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How to Write an Expository Essay – It’s Really Essay Writing 101!

September 22, 2015 - Posted to How to: Essay writing tips

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How to Write an Expository Essay

The expository essay – you wrote a bunch of them in high school, although they may not have been called by that name. Every time you wrote an essay that explained, informed, or described something, you produced an expository piece of writing. So that you have a real understanding, expository writing is not the following:

  • It is not persuasive writing, in which you are trying to convince someone to accept your position
  • It is not cause-effect writing
  • It is not an argumentative piece in which you are taking a position and defending it against opposing positions
  • It is not a narrative in which you tell a story

Expository writing is objective and fact-based. And it often involves research. For example, if I were going to write an expository essay on building tiny houses for the homeless in America’s cities, I would need to learn where that is being done, who is doing it, how they are doing it, and why they are doing it. These are the questions that a reporter asks, and these are the questions that are largely answered by expository writing. If you are not sure how to write an expository essay, the following should help.

Structure of Expository Writing

This essay follows the standard template of most essays – an introduction, body and conclusion. Let’s take the example of an expository essay on tiny homes for the homeless. You have completed your research and have discovered that these little dwellings are being built in Nashville, Seattle, Los Angeles, and Madison, along with several other cities. You have also learned that they are being funded by a variety of sources – city tax dollars, private organizations, and even crowdfunding.

Your essay is to be no longer than two pages, so you obviously may have to narrow your topic a bit. You may want to select just one city and focus on the efforts there. You may want to focus on only the funding of tiny home construction. Or, you may want to cover the entire topic more superficially in order to include both places and funding.

The Introduction: You want to begin your introduction with some method of sparking interest on the part of the reader. Here is one possibility. “Over 600,000 people in the U.S. are homeless. They sleep in alleys, under bridges, in parks and cemeteries all over our nation. Sometimes they form small communities and face “eviction” by law enforcement officials. Rather than force the homeless to “move on,” not much has been done to solve the problem, other than some shelters that offer them a place to sleep at night. Now, cities and privately-funded organizations are coming together with a new and innovative solution to the problem – communities of tiny homes.” The remainder of your introduction will refine your topic and contain a thesis statement, perhaps your comment that this may be an efficient and economically reasonable solution that gets the homeless off the streets and preserves their dignity.

The rest of your essay should write itself. Your body paragraphs will each address a city or a type of funding, which you have decided is the focus of your essay. Our conclusion will perhaps tie back to your thesis statement – the homeless have a need for shelter and for a means to preserve their dignity. This innovation does both.

Don’t forget – your rough draft is just that – a rough draft. Be certain to review, edit, and re-write so that you have a polished final piece.

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