A Division of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Heinemann

What a Writer Needs, Second Edition

Ralph Fletcher
Foreword by Donald Murray

ISBN 978-0-325-04666-2 / 0-325-04666-2 / 2013 / 224pp / Paperback
Imprint: Heinemann
Availability: In Stock
Grade Level: K - 12th
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“This is no recipe book: I have tried not to be formulaic. Rather, I want to suggest the richness of options, the myriad possibilities open to the writer at any given moment. Young writers need to know what can be done with language.”
—Ralph Fletcher

For more than 20 years, Ralph Fletcher’s What a Writer Needs has been a beloved bestseller, trusted in classrooms, district inservices, and teacher-preparation programs across the U.S. Now Ralph’s second edition makes What a Writer Needs an even more powerful tool for turning students into writers—and for teachers to improve their own writing.

In What A Writer Needs, Ralph presents a crash course on the elements of writing, with chapters on how to create vivid details, compelling voice, a sense of place, believable characters, tension, engaging leads and endings, just to name a few. Readers will develop a deeper, more profound knowledge of writing and will find the book eminently practical as well. In fact, Ralph has added two entirely new chapters on revision and nonfiction writing that are immediately useful for meeting Common Core writing standards. It also includes a completely updated list of suggested mentor texts, handpicked by Ralph, and sorted by the craft element each demonstrates.

What A Writer Needs, Second Edition, is a desert-island book for any writing teacher. Personal and anecdotal, it includes a wealth of lively writing samples drawn both from student writers and professionals. Experience Ralph’s keen instructional insight, his careful attention to students and their work, and his experienced-honed wisdom about the essentials of great writing. Discover the pleasure of reading and teaching from What a Writer Needs. You’ll soon find out why Ralph Fletcher’s timeless classic is more timely than ever.

PART ONE: Essentials

  • Mentors
  • Freezing to the Face
  • A Love of Words

PART TWO: The Craft

  • The Art of Specificity
  • Creating a Character
  • Voice
  • Beginnings
  • Endings
  • Tension
  • A Sense of Place
  • A Playfulness with Time
  • Unforgettable Language
  • Writing Nonfiction
  • Revision

Un-Final Thoughts
Appendix: Book lists and more

In Depth

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What a Writer Needs is beautifully written and will move readers to become better writers and better writing teachers!”
—Gail Boushey and Joan Moser, authors of The Daily 5

“I truly feel my work is grounded in the fundamental ideas I learned from What a Writer Needs. Reading the second edition, I realize it’s as relevant today as it was then.”
—Katie Wood Ray, author of About the Authors

“Ralph has accomplished the unthinkable—he somehow managed to improve a perfect book! With the addition of a chapter on nonfiction and another on revision, he’s given us exactly what every writer needs—all over again.”
—Ruth Culham, author of 6+1 Traits of Writing

"Since we cannot bring Ralph home with us to help us write our own stories or help us teach our students to write theirs, we are fortunate enough to have the next best thing—this book. For that, and for Ralph Fletcher, for his books, his stories about his family, the joy that shines through on every page of this book. I am very grateful and a better teacher to boot."
—Jim Burke, author of The English Teacher’s Companion

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