What exactly is expository/informational writing?
Expository writing comes in a variety of forms, but, in general it is factual writing for the purpose of informing others:
- The straight information report
- A how-to piece
- Compare/contrast writing
- Even biography is considered expository writing
Because the purpose of expository writing is to inform an audience of others, organization is key so that the reader can glean information presented in a straight-forward, logical, sequential way. Building exposition so that the information it contains is readily accessible to the reader often depends on having a strong organizational strategy and user-friendly graphic organizer to plan the writing.
Contrary to what many of us experience, this kind of strong organization does not mean that the writing will be formulaic, stilted or boring!
What specific skills are involved in expository writing?
Authors of successful expository writing are well-versed in the following skills:
- Organization – they understand the shape that an expository piece takes as well as the salient characteristics of this kind of writing crafting broad yet distinct main ideas – the body of an expository piece is made up of paragraphs, each defined by a main idea. Each main idea is explored through a variety of supporting facts and details. However, main ideas need to be carefully selected so that they are broad enough to cover a range of related details, while being clearly distinct from other main ideas in the piece.
- Supporting details – this involves so much more than assigning adjectives to nouns! The author needs to not simply create a “grocery list” of facts, but needs to expand on facts and link them to bigger questions about their relative importance.
- Introductions and Conclusions – besides introducing and concluding the piece, introductions and conclusions serve to set a purpose for reading and to engage and interest the reader.
- Powerful details/”golden bricks” – authors learn powerful techniques for showing rather than telling which include the use of quotes, anecdotes, statistics.
Empowering Writers’ Expository and Opinion Writing Guides have the tools and strategies to successfully teach these skills.
What can we expect in expository writing from student authors?
Click here to see samples of student expository writing, annotated to indicate skills in application and suggested prescriptive lessons.