The essay is a commonly assigned form of writing that every student will encounter while in academia. Essays can be a rewarding and challenging type of writing, but they are often dreaded by every student, because they demand a certain amount of preparation. Many poorly crafted essays have been produced on account of a lack of preparation and confidence. The essay is used to encourage students to test or examine their own ideas concerning a particular topic. Essays are by nature concise and they require clarity in purpose and direction. This means that there is no room for the student’s thoughts to wander or stray from his or her purpose, because the writing must be deliberate and interesting.
Expository writing makes things clear and my previous job as a technical writer was to explain things in a way that people could understand. Expository writing is writing that explains or shares information. The word expository is derived from ‘expose’ which means ‘to reveal’. This can also sometimes be called informative writing. The writer of an expository essay assumes that the reader has no prior knowledge of the topic that is being discussed. The world is full of expository writing including: Newspaper/magazine articles, Summaries, Informational reports, How-to manuals, Book reports, Operating instructions, Chapters in history textbooks and Entries in encyclopedias.
While working as an engineer, I wrote many technical descriptions of machine operations from customer specifications and I also wrote several sequence of operation procedures, process specifications, technical specifications, operator manuals and Standard Operating Procedures (SOP). My technical reports included Master Validation Plans, Installation Qualifications (IQ), Operational Qualifications (OQ), Factory Acceptance Tests (FAT) and I also made procedural checklists. I authored documents for internal audit response and FDA consent decree. I wrote specifications for systems and processes along with procedures for calibrating instruments and training others.
An expository essay must be creative and it is held together by a clear, concise, and defined thesis statement that occurs in the first paragraph of the essay, clear and logical transitions between the introduction, body, and conclusion, body paragraphs that include evidential support, which can be factual, logical, statistical, or anecdotal, and a conclusion that does not simply restate the thesis, but readdresses it in light of the evidence provided. A common method for writing an expository essay is to use the five-paragraph approach where the first paragraph is an introductory paragraph. The next three body paragraphs will provide evidence and the first one of these is where the writer begins to flesh out the information that the introduction said was coming. Paragraph three should be devoted to a new fact or different example that supports the main idea of the essay. Paragraph 4 is the last of three evidentiary body paragraphs and it should end with signal words that tell the reader that the final point is being made. The conclusion should restate the ideas from the thesis statement in the introduction. It should neatly summarize everything including all of the key points that were made in each of the paragraphs in the body of the work.
Comparisons are used to explain differences between subjects or to persuade readers that one subject is superior others. The compare and contrast essay measures similarities and differences between two subjects. Sportswriters compare the teams playing in the Super Bowl. Stockbrokers contrast investment strategies. Medical journals compare therapy methods. Textbooks use comparison to explain related theories and methods. Consumer Reports examine competing products. Essay exams often ask students to compare authors, historical events, political figures, or scientific techniques.
Comparison in writing discusses elements that are similar, while contrast in writing discusses elements that are different. A comparison and contrast essay may discuss only similarities, only differences, but more often than not, both comparison and contrast are used. A compare and contrast essay uses factual details to analyze the similarities and differences between two or more two or more people, places, things, or events. In comparison and contrast, transitions between paragraphs are necessary to keep your essay flowing smoothly, to make it clear to the reader when you switch from one topic to the other, and to indicate the logical relationships between ideas within the paragraph.
The five basic categories in expository writing are: Compare & Contrast Essay where a writer considers similarities and differences, How-to Instructions where the steps involved in doing a task are explained and many reader questions are anticipated, Cause-and-Effect Essay where a writer explores the reasons a particular event or situation occurred and provides an explanation of the causes of the event or situation and this must include solid supporting facts/details, Informational Report where a writer gathers relevant information, facts and statistics and then presents it in a clear and interesting way and Product Evaluation where a writer presents a reasoned opinion of strengths and weaknesses of a particular item or service to helps the reader make an informed decision about whether to use or purchase this product.
A Compare and Contrast essay is usually a short piece of expository writing that describes similarities and differences between two or more subjects. An effective compare/contrast essay identifies a purpose for comparison & contrast, gives factual details about the subjects that are being compared and uses an organizational plan suited for topic/purpose. The easiest way to organize a comparison paper is to simply divide it into two parts. After an introductory paragraph, fully discuss the first subject without mentioning the second. Then in the latter half of the paper, explain the second subject, comparing its likenesses and differences to the first. For longer and more technical papers, it may be better to compare the two subjects on a range of issues. Instead of dividing the paper into two sections, you might organize your topic by making a series of comparisons on a point by point list of subtopics. Persuasive comparisons recommend one subject as being superior to another, while avoiding comments about any obvious differences and always make sure that your comparisons are valid. Don’t compare apples with oranges!
How To Instructions are step-by-step explanations of how to do something, like how to build, operate, repair, or maintain things. For something that seems so easy and intuitive, instructions are often some of the worst-written documents. Good instructions require the writer to use clear, simple writing, to possess a thorough understanding and awareness of the procedure in all its technical detail, to have the ability to put them self in the place of the reader. The writer must know the person who is trying to use these instructions and to be able to visualize the procedure in great detail and to capture that on paper. Finally, the writer must be willing to go that extra distance and test their instructions on the kind of person that they wrote them for.
Cause-and-Effect essays examine the relationship between events, explaining how one events or situation causes another. A successful cause-and-effect essay includes a discussion of the cause (event or condition), an explanation of an effect (outcome or result), evidence and Examples for support along with logical organization. Problem-solution essays go further than just identifying an issue, as they offer an idea or a way of changing it. An effective problem-solution includes, a clear statement of problem, a proposal of at least one realistic solution, all relevant facts, statistics, data, maybe an expert opinion, and a clear organizational pattern and an appropriate language for a specific audience background knowledge.
An Informational Report does not have an argumentative slant. Their goal is to give people the facts so that the reader can make a decision, not the writer. The writer should maintain a neutral attitude when presenting the facts, but spare no energy when it comes to researching in depth and writing clearly. An informative paper does not need to present an argument, but it does need a clear focus stated in one sentence.
Product Evaluation essays are just like reviews. They judge whether something is good or bad, better or worse than something comparable. Evaluation papers can be serious or funny, earnest or sarcastic. Many people enjoy reading a review about a really bad movie or a horrible restaurant experience. The writer will need to use criteria to judge their subject. Criteria are the parts of the thing you are evaluating. Writing a product review of an item you have purchased and used can be a great way to share useful information with other shoppers, promote products you love, or just build your writing portfolio. Your review may offer glowing praise or bitter criticism. To do a thorough review, a writer must do research and know what their readers are looking for. It would also be helpful for the writer to buy and use the product.
Written for 12/16/17 Linda G. Hill’s ‘Life in progress’ Stream of Consciousness Saturday where the prompt is contrast.