The Kerrigan method of ‘Writing to the Point’ series is back on track

by Grace

20111113.COCWritingToPointI took a long break from posting about The Kerrigan method of ‘Writing to the Point’, but now I plan to get back on track to complete the series.  WTTP is a “highly structured” approach to writing instruction.  Here’s what I wrote in my first post on this topic back in November of 2011.

I’ve long admired the writing technique espoused by William Kerrigan in Writing to the Point (WTTP).  His simple, multi-step process is so appealing as an instructional method, especially for struggling students….


Allan Metcalf, co-author if the fourth edition of WTTP, described it this way:

… the Kerrigan method is unusual only in its approach and style, not in its content.  What it teaches is what anyone would want in expository writing:  unity, coherence, detail.

A recap of the WTTP Steps 1 through 4.

STEP 1. Write a short, simple declarative sentence that makes one statement. (Chapter 1, page 6)

STEP 2. Write three sentences about the sentence in Step 1—clearly and directly about the whole of that sentence, not just something in it. (Chapter 2, page 18.)

STEP 3. Write four or five sentences about each of the three sentences in Step 2—clearly and directly about the whole of the Step 2 sentence, not just something in it. (Chapter 3, page 31.)

STEP 4. Make the material in the four or five sentences of Step 3 as specific and concrete as possible. Go into detail. Use examples. Don’t ask, “What will I say next?” Instead, say some more about what you have just said. Your goal is to say a lot about a little, not a little about a lot.  (Chapter 4, page 43)

Efficient and clear writing instruction

After finally completing lessons on all six steps of Kerrigan’s WTTP method, I remain impressed with the “clarity and efficiency” of his system.  While it imposes a rigid structure on learning to write a basic essay, it also establishes the foundation for moving on to more sophisticated compositions.  I believe most students would benefit from mastering the WTTP method, or something similar, as a primary step in developing college-level writing skills.  And after observing so many approaches used and so much time wasted in our public schools’ writing curriculum, I especially value the efficiency gained by the WTTP approach of “systematically moving through a hierarchy of skills”.

My next post on the Kerrigan method will be about reviewing and correcting the first draft of an essay.

Previous posts in this series:

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