Organizing Expository
A Brief Overview
Lead credit: Renee Burress
What a writer should create when
writing an expository essay:
• Interesting, controlled lead with an
obvious topic sentence.
• Supportive, organized body
paragraphs with fluent transitions
• Supportive conclusion which
includes and leaves the reader with
a final thought or insight
To Begin: Leads
A well-written lead
catches the reader’s
attention, making them
want to read more. It
also makes the writer
want to write more.
What is a “lead?”
A lead is the
of any piece of writing.
What is an expository
• An expository lead is the
beginning of an informational
piece of writing.
What types of
expository writing usually
occur in school?
Compare and contrast
Cause and effect
Different Types of
Expository Leads
Snapshot Lead
Observation Lead
Question Lead
Personal Connection Lead
Set-up/Interesting Fact Lead
Snapshot Lead
Create a picture of the
setting or event
in the reader’s mind.
Start with a Snapshot. When you paint a picture,
you draw the reader in . Notice the difference between
these two leads to a report about ice-skating.
Ice-skating is my favorite sport.
It's ten degrees below zero and the river is frozen a foot thick. It
makes snapping sounds like the limbs of trees cracking. A long
figure glides along the
black ice, moving toward the city. The only sound is the scraping of
each blade as it bites into the river. That's me doing my favorite
sport, ice-skating.
Observation Lead
Draw your reader in with an
important observation.
Start with an important observation. Don't
start in the general. Put your most surprising
or important observation into you opening.
The human brain is a complex and amazing organ.
Seeing stars, it dreams of eternity. Hearing birds, it makes music.
Smelling flowers, it is enraptured. Touching tools, it transforms
the earth. But deprived of these sensory experiences, the human
brain withers and dies. (Inside the Brain --- Ronald Kotulak)
Question Lead
Draw your reader in
with a question.
Start with a strongly stated question your
readers might have. In some ways all writing
is about trying to answer our best questions. A
strong question is one we all want to know the
answer to.
In this paper I will attempt to answer the question why history is
What's the point of studying history? Who cares what happened
long ago? After all, aren't the people in history books dead?
Start with a personal
reason why you would
investigate this topic
Put your connection with the subject in the lead.
Why are you attracted to the subject? Do you have a
personal reason for writing about this subject? What
specific memories of the subject come to mind?
The problem of longitude was one of the greatest scientific
challenges of its day.
Once on a Wednesday excursion when I was a little girl, my father
bought me a beaded wire ball that I loved. At a touch, I could
collapse the toy into a flat coil between my palms, or pop it open to
make a hollow sphere. Rounded out it resembled a tiny Earth,
because its hinged wires traced the same pattern intersecting
circles that I had seen on the globe in my school room -- the thin
black lines of latitude and longitude. (Longitude --- Dava Sobel)
Set-Up/ Interesting
Fact Lead
Set up the writing with a
super-interesting hook.
Flaunt your favorite bit of research in the
lead. Start with the facts that made you smile,
laugh, go "ahaaa" or just plain grossed you out.
Did you ever wonder why God created flies?
Though we've been killing them for years now, I have never tested
the folklore that with a little cream and sugar, flies taste very
much like black
There are also many
more types of leads:
Challenging Statement
Famous or Not-so-famous quote
How can you use some of these
ideas in your writing?
You are being asked to write a compare and contrast
paper. Regardless of what lead you choose to begin
your writing, you will want to write your lead well, so
let’s look at some sample student leads to see what
works and what doesn’t.
Ponyboy Curtis, a poor boy from the east side of
town, faces all kinds of problems and hard choices in
S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders. Growing up in the 60s
with a mixed-up family and hoods for friends, seems
like a hard character to relate to, especially in a
completely different time period. But Ponyboy’s
interests, feelings, and good heart immediately
pulled me in. On every page was a new comparison.
Amazing how a 14-year-old boy from the 60s could
related so much to someone from the 21st century.
R. Hunt
When you picture a ‘greaser” the first thing that
will pop in your head is either your mom telling you
to take a shower, or the slick-backed Elvis look. The
last thing you will think of would be a teenage high
school girl that is frustrated with her school’s
cliques. That agitated girl is S.E. Hinton; her story
is The Outsiders, where I found understanding
heroism, and a multiple sided story where people are
people before anything else. However, most of all
the different characters Ponyboy was who was most
debatable being more alike, or different.
W. Ayarza
The rich and poor have always been separated from
each other. Although today isn’t as bad as it was in
The Outsiders. In The Outsiders the separation of
the rich and poor is one of the main ideas of the
K. Pulley
As I read The Outsiders, I had a lot to think about.
S.E. Hinton pushes you to think about the issues
that appear in her book. As I thought about these
things, I couldn’t help but realize how much alike
Ponyboy, the main character, and I are. The further
I got into the book, the more I saw ideas and
thoughts from Ponyboy that I had thought of
M. Reynolds
My understanding from the rich to the poor has
changed from reading S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders…..
I understand S.E. Hinton’s message: don’t judge
people by what they look like or how much money
they have but [by] how much drive, kindness, and
S. Adams
Regardless of which lead you choose
for your compare and contrast paper,
you will want your writing to be clear,
interesting and informative while
making your compare and contrast
purpose obvious.
Compare and Contrast Lead
What’s the Buzz
Last summer, my grandma’s backyard overflowed
with flowers and with stinging insects. At first,
whenever I heard a buzz, I grabbed my flyswatter.
Then Grandma showed me that not all buzzes are
created equal. For example, honeybees and yellow
jackets (wasps) may look similar, but they’re
really very different creatures.
Other important ideas to
consider when writing an
• Organization: beg, middle, end
• Transition Words:
• For simple organizational purposes,
assume you need a beginning, middle,
and end in the form of:
– lead/intro paragraph
– body paragraphs (min. of three)
– and a concluding paragraph.
• Transitions are needed between
paragraphs and are used to directly
indicate to a reader a shift or change
in ideas.
• The keep the reading fluent and ideas
Transition Word/Phrases Sources:
So, overall…
When organizing an expository
essay, include:
• An interesting, controlled lead with an obvious
topic sentence.
• Supportive, organized body paragraphs with
fluent transitions
• A supportive conclusion which includes and leaves
the reader with a final thought or insight