The ABCs of Expository Writing

 The ABCs of Expository Writing

Expository writing assignment is something you eventually will be getting as a student of a college or university. There are those who do not understand all aspects of expository writing and therefore require assistance. We would like to shed some light on the issue explaining what it is and even provide some guidance on how to write an expository essay. Even if you don’t really understand how this kind of writing is different from any other writing type you will have a decent understanding of what it really is after reading this article. We have to say that this kind of writing isn’t applied within an academic setting only; there are multiple ways how this genre can be utilized. But as of now we would like to concentrate exclusively on expository essays since it is one of the most common applications of this particular style. So this article should be of great interest to you if you are or soon to be a student.

What is Expository Writing?

In order to understand what this kind of writing is all about you just have to know what the word “expository” means. Well, an exposition is a term denoting a comprehensive description and/or explanation of something. Consequently, every expository text, including an essay is meant to explain, inform or describe something. Expository writing along with narration, argumentation, and description make up most common rhetorical modes.

The purpose of expository writing is to analyze information through the means of presenting evidence, ideas or appropriate discussion. Exposition always assumes providing background information on a specific subject prior to giving the analysis or description of the matter. In other words, those who are to write an expository essay or other expository texts have to assume that readers have no background knowledge or understanding of the issue that will be discussed. Expository texts are usually organized around a single topic and written according to one of the set patterns for this type of writings. These patterns are sometimes called the variations of expository essays.

  • Definition essays. They are meant to explain the meaning of words, terms and concepts. Expository writing topics can be very different starting from specific subjects and ending with abstract terms. But no matter what the topic is your task is to provide and discuss a clear definition along with all relevant associations.
  • Classification essays. When dealing with classification essays, a writer has to organize the text in a way that would break down a broader subject into categories. It is a must to list some examples for every category listed.
  • Compare and contrast essays. These simply describe the differences and similarities between things, events, people, etc. Comparison lies in the core of this kind of expository essay writing. It is all about what things have in common and how they differ one from another.
  • Cause and effect essays. The focus in this kind of essays is on the relationships between two or more events/experiences. It is about discussing the reasons why something happened as well as the result of this specific event. Every cause and effect essay answers two questions: Why does it happen (Why did it happen) ? What happens as a result (What happened as a result)?
  • Process essays. These explain a process or procedure for something. They are sometimes called “How to” essays because in effect they explain how to do something with the purpose of passing this knowledge to readers.

How to Write Expository Essays?

There are a lot of examples of expository writing available online. If you take time and review some of them you will have a good idea of what expository essays look like. We are not going to provide any expository writing samples in this article as it would make this article too long for you to read. Instead we will just list some of the practical tips on how to develop an expository essay. It will be good if you read them first and only then move on to reviewing what others have written. You will be just fine looking for a good example of expository writing online; most likely it will not take over 5 mins.

  1. It is important that prior to writing you brainstorm and do a comprehensive research on the subject. We recommend taking some notes during these processes – this will help you not miss anything important. When you have some ideas and background knowledge you can create an outline. At this point you just plan the structure of your essay describing the content of each paragraph. When you have the outline (either in your mind or on a piece of paper) you are now ready to move on to writing.
  2. It is better if you write a draft of your paper first. It will save your time and efforts as well as improve the quality of the final paper. When drafting your essay keep in mind that introduction has to contain the thesis (main idea). It should be clearly stated in a brief fashion. Each of the following paragraphs should cover a single point that supports the thesis. It is important that you develop strong evidence to back up the main idea of your expository essay.  Focus on facts and verifiable examples that could be investigated any time. The last paragraph is to reinforce the thesis statement made in the beginning of the essay. Never give any new information at this concluding stage of writing. Throughout the entire paper you have to write in the third person eliminating personal subjective impact on the essay.
  3. After you have the draft written you can review it and modify things that you don’t like. This is how you improve the entire document. It may take a while since there may be things that would require reorganization of your text. Make sure your essay doesn’t contain any biased opinions or analysis. If after multiple editing efforts you don’t think it looks good you may want to try and change your thesis statement. Things may go better from there. You can also read some examples of expository writing to understand what you can improve.
  4. Now when you have a written essay all you have to do is to proofread in order to eliminate any grammar and spelling errors. You can also edit the style to improve the clarity of your thought. 
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