Notes on WRITING TO EXPLAIN and INFORM USING SOURCE MATERIAL:

This kind of writing--expository writing--is part of almost all other kinds of writing. It explains (exposes...) the Why or How about something, a situation or a process, or what something is. This is not to be an instruction manual, list or recipe, but an explanation...Although it takes a position about some part of the topic, this is not just a bland report or review of materials and it is not a formal argument, supporting and defending a claim. Please define any technical terms and direct the writing to a general reader, not an expert in the subject. To empower the ideas and thinking, authoritative sources must be included. [For Definition essays: a Definition Essay HOW-TO  | Loaded Words ]

Possible STEPS in producing E2:

  1. Explore possible topics Tutorial for Exploring and Developing a Topic | Brainstorming |  Topic Exp. Loop.
  2. Write 200-300 wds expanding Loop parts 5 and 6 on the topic you want to use, then make an initial thesis sentence (see Thesis/outline Gd. | Ashford thesis Gd).
  3. Find at least 3-5 outside sources that can support your thesis and reasoning. Wikipedia is fine for getting familiar with a topic, but look for information you want to cite other more authoritative sources.
  4. Make an outline to structure your paper (Paper Planning Ex- optional)
  5. Write a rough draft, using the thesis sentence and at least 3-5 sources (Basic level 5 paragraph essay can use  2-4 sources). Organization of paper | Sample full MLA paperw/notes 
  6. Using peer and instructor feed back continue to work on the final form of essay.
For the full version of the paper, outside sources of information (author and or web site title, etc.) will need to be credited and introduced in a sentence (Signal Phrases1 | Signal Phrases 2 ) and as MLA parenthetical citation at the end of the material (author last name +page or paragraph number where the data came from) Example: (Smith 24). MORE:  Within the sentence, next to the material/idea used, writers simply place in parenthesis, the author's plain last name only (no initials, titles, etc.) and the page or paragraph number of the information being cited, e.g. for an independent source, (Brown 34), or in a collection, e.g. (Brown in Faigley 57)--don't use "page" or "p." in MLA. As in the example here, the period which ends the sentence goes outside the close parenthesis mark.  Also see: OWL Citing Guide

Consider things like these (unless class page has possible topics listed):

  • the brief history of something, i.e. development of electric vehicles
  • what the "big bang" is said to be, how it was conceived
  • how dogs may have become "domesticated."
  • theories of climate change
  • Tutorial for Exploring and Developing a Topic

See some of these examples of expository/explanation/informational writing.

OWL guide for Expository essays | Elements of Expository Writing |
Some examples (excerpts) of ways to explain (but w/o MLA citing):
  1. Process Analysis in Barry Lopez's "Migration"
  2. Process Analysis in Richard Selzer's "The Knife"
  3. Examples in Frank Trippett's "Loaded Words"
  4. Barbara Tuchman's Historical Narrative: The Black Death

 

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