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How to Write an Explanatory Essay

By definition, an essay is a short literary composition that presents a limited, and often personal, point of view about a specific subject. Topic organization is sometimes classified as rambling and shapeless. The mood of the piece is frequently controlled by the emotions of the writer. The voice is occasionally friendly, sometimes subjective, often intimate, and purposefully conversational. In contrast, the explanatory essayist strives to present an ordered and structured clarification of an event, a situation, or another person's view. The voice of the explanatory essayist, though conversational, is impersonal, neither argumentative nor critical. The explanatory essay is marked by an objective tone, yet there remains a goal of bringing an implied reader to a concrete understanding of a difficult subject.

Create an Outline and a Checklist

Whether written or mental, a checklist will help the author establish structure, focus, and topic order. It will lessen chances of technical error. And it will keep the text clear and effective. The writer of a functional explanatory essay should balance the following points:

  • ? Idea: clearly identify your subject.
  • ? The audience: know whom you plan to reach.
  • ? The method: establish a style and structure for the presentation.
  • ? Key words: determine points of primary reference.
  • ? Vocabulary: chose precise words that will convey an exact message.
  • ? Voice: chose a tone that fits the idea.
  • ? The thesis statement: introduce the audience to the subject to be explained or analyzed.
  • ? Supporting topics: organize your material. Break it down into workable segments.
  • ? Consistency: topics and paragraphs must have a direct relationship to the primary idea.
  • ? Smooth transition: maintain an easy read. Properly sequence paragraphs and topics.
  • ? Concluding paragraph: clearly and effectively reinforce your analysis and conclusions.

The Successful Explanatory Essay Begins with an Idea and a Slant

To convey and clarify information is the primary function of an explanatory essay. Yet determining what to include, how to support your affirmations, and how to present the idea to a particular audience will establish research goals, word choice, sentence structure, and topic order. Subject material can range from movie reviews to political clashes. Writing methods can focus on cause and effect, comparison and contrast, and analogy. Writing will reflect your mood. So pick a subject you can enjoy. Extract a specific idea out of the material. Then come up with a unique angle of presentation.

Knowing the Audience

This is a straightforward decision. Think age, race, sex, statistics, political standings, health issues, religious views, and any other specific point that will identify and classify your audience. And try to remember: not all women think alike, not all religions worship the same. Get specific.

Determine Style and Thought Pattern

Though essay writing comes in many flavors, remember the purpose of the explanatory essay. You are writing to answer questions. You want to address content, consider the strengths and weaknesses of the subject, and then expound upon those points that are not easily understood. Beware that you do not fall into a narrative, personal, or persuasive viewpoint. Help the reader to think, but avoid hostile or critical statements. Consider also your own voice. Casual comes in different ranges. Conversation with a group of pastors may be more open than conversation with a class of school children. Keywords are subject related. Word choice is audience related.

Now start writing. Keep your outline in mind. Know your reader. Focus on clarification. Write effectively. Present your analysis, and make sure your readers understand your conclusion.

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