Explanatory Writing

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A typical prompt you might see for an explanatory writing assignment might be to explain an old saying, such as “No news is good news.” Explaining an old saying can be a good exercise in clarifying something, which can help you write better on all of your writing assignments.

The challenge to explaining some old adages and sayings is that they refer to ways of life with which many of us are now unfamiliar. If you do not know anything about sewing, you may not understand that when a person says “A stitch in time saves nine,” they are telling you to be careful and pay attention to what you are doing. Doing something right the first time will save you the time and trouble of correcting mistakes or having to do a project over again. You may need to explain a little about sewing in order to explain this concept clearly.

Also Read: Informative Writing

You could conduct experiments and report your results if you want to disprove the adage, “A watched pot never boils,” but doing so would not help anyone understand the adage. A watched pot will boil, sooner or later, but the assignment is to explain what the adage means. It serves as a reminder that becoming preoccupied with something usually makes it seem to take longer to happen. The adage is not literally true but reminds us to be patient.

If you want to write better explanatory writing assignments, think about how you came to understand what a saying means. You can disagree with the saying, “No news is good news,” but explain the reasoning behind it. That is, people are quick to report bad news, but not so quick to report good news. If we do not hear any bad news, it must mean that nothing bad has happened. You may want to explain this before giving example or reasons for why you agree or disagree.

Remember that the purpose of an explanatory writing assignment is to help someone understand something. Think about your audience. You may have to consider their age and reading level in order to write better pieces. You will write better if you stick to the facts instead of giving your opinion.

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John C. Stevens