Becoming great at expository writing

Expository writing is one of the most important techniques to express ourselves in words. What is expository writing? How do we become good (great!) at writing expository essays? Are there any secrets that we need to know?

What is Expository Writing?

Expository writing is a type of writing that requires you to "investigate an idea, evaluate evidence, expound on the idea, and set forth an argument concerning that idea in a clear and concise manner. This can be accomplished through comparison and contrast, definition, example, the analysis of cause and effect, etc. (OWL Purdue 2021). 

Becoming an Effective Expository Writer

Even from early elementary, we are already being taught on what expository writing is and how we can express ourselves better when it comes to our argument using this type of writing. By following the structure of an exposition, we can arrange our thoughts and make them flow. The structure involves:

  1. Thesis or Argument
  2. Background
  3. Evidence or Supporting Ideas
  4. Counterclaim or Concession
  5. Call to Action or  Conclusion

In between these, we use transitional words or phrases such as however, additionally, furthermore, etc. that make our writing flow. 

How can we become effective in expository writing? Or better yet, how can we become truly effective writers? I believe once you master the skill of expressing yourself through words, the world is literally at your fingertips! 

According to Peter Elbow in his book Writing with Power, Techniques for Mastering the Writing Process, it is helpful to "outline" your ideas. He claims that when you outline, you make your ideas clear as you go along. Writing expository, while usually adhering to structure, should not be constrained to these limits. We can be creative in our expository writing even as we use the five point-structure as our guide. 

Outlining, thinking about your audience, and putting yourself under pressure are good methods when you already have a lot of ingredients in mind. If you are still pretty blank, a nap, mulling it over, or a discussion is probably more effective. (Elbow 75). 

Many of my expository writing ideas are posted on my Pinterest page (@learnlanguagecoach). Feel free to check them out as I constantly update them!

The authors of tell us that "Expository writing is usually not the place for flowery flourishes of figurative imagery! Students should be encouraged to select straightforward language that is easy for the reader to understand. After all, the aim here is to inform and explain and this is best achieved with direct language."

Note the word "usually." I certainly agree that we should be straightforward when we craft expository writing. You see, this is a genre of nonfiction where our goal is to inform and even persuade. It is not like we're writing a narrative. However, it doesn't mean we cannot use creative words. We still can, but to really be effective in expository writing, we must make sure that our audience (readers) understand fully what we are trying to say. 

Author: Marie Puddu

Works Cited: 

Elbow, Peter. Writing With Power: Techniques for Mastering the Writing Process. 2nd ed., Oxford University Press, 1998.

OWL Purdue. “Expository Essays //.” Purdue Writing Lab, 2021,,a%20clear%20and%20concise%20manner.

“How to Write an Expository Essay.” Literacy Ideas, 2021,

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