“They Say/I Say” Intro & Chp 1.


In the Introduction to “They Say/I Say”: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing, Gerald Graff and Cathy Birkenstein provide templates designed to show their audience how to create and organize a well written essay.  Specifically, Graff and Birkenstein argue that the types of writing templates they offer provide guidelines on how to correctly utilize their advice to create a masterpiece.  As the authors themselves put it, “One of our key premises is that these basic moves are so common that they can be represented in templates that you can use right away to structure and even generate your own writing.”  Although some people believe that they are not able to express their own ideas freely by following a structured format, Graff and Birkenstein insist that with structured formats, one’s writing will improve; nevertheless, anyone can write their own unique work, even if they simply get help from a template.  In sum, then, their view is that people are able to always enhance their writings.  I agree with their writings in that being provided a set of directions, just helps someone get on the right path.

Chapter 1

The main point of Chapter 1 is to show readers that is just as important to express your own ideas as taking others’ into consideration too.  Writers should remind their audience what they are reading about so they never become confused.  Always be clear in your writing and be responsive to other ideas, beliefs or conversation.

1) “Remember that you are entering a conversation and therefore need to start with ‘what others are saying,’ as the title of this chapter recommends, and then introduce your own ideas as a response.” (20-21)

2) “Starting with a summary of others’ views may seem to contradict the common advice that writers should lead with their own thesis or claim.” (21)]

3) “In other words, even when presenting your own claims, you should keep returning to the motivating ‘they say.’  The longer and more complicated your text, the greater the chance that readers will forget what ideas originally motivated it- no matter how clearly you lay them out at the beginning.” (27)


How can you be sure that you are providing the reader with clarification?  Sometimes I question if my writing is going to be clear to the readers.  I feel that it does not always make sense to others, even if it does to me.