WRITING YOUR BEST EXPOSITORY ESSAY - SOME GENERAL POINTERS
ENC 1101 - Dr. Blanchard – Spring Semester, 2013
Three personal essays are due during the course of the semester. Though each of these essays will have a
different focus as explained in the "Overview" of major assignments attached to your "Weekly Agenda," these
essays will generally be concerned with the qualities which enable an individual to be a thinker and doer or,
in other words, a force for creating a happier or a more just society. Each of these personal essays should
be from 500 - 800 words in length. Remember: 1) a student must turn in all three of the required
essays to pass this course and 2) an essay must be turned in no later than the deadline date to
be accepted.
Some general guidelines to writing effective expository essays of a personal nature are provided
in this help sheet. Reading and carefully considering the points made here should help you to
plan, develop and write the best personal essays you can.
 First, you will be provided with specific guidelines to each assigned essay.
the "Guidelines" to each essay before you begin planning your essay.
You should read carefully
 An expository essay in general is simply any non-fiction work of prose a writer writes about a subject. An
essay, in other words, is not a speech. While a speech is written to an audience, an essay is written about
a subject. For this reason, you should never use the pronoun "you” when writing your personal
essays. In general, avoid using direct address altogether when writing expository essays.
 Because you will be writing personal essays about your own views or opinions on selected subjects, you
may feel it necessary to use the first person pronoun "I" when writing. You may use the first person
pronoun "I," but avoid using the pronoun extensively since your reader will generally assume that
unless otherwise stated the thoughts expressed in your essay are yours.
 When writing your essay, don't slip into the "questioning mode." In casual conversation, we sometimes
make our points indirectly or implicitly by asking questions. These are "rhetorical questions"; their
answers are implied in the question. When developing our thoughts in an essay, however, we want to be
explicit, not implicit. Furthermore, asking a question implies we are speaking to someone; remember
our definition: an essay is written about a subject, not to an audience.
ask rhetorical questions when writing your essays.
For these reasons, then,
do not
 The most important component in any successful essay is the introductory (or first) paragraph.
When beginning your essay, don't be unnecessarily concerned about "hooking" your reader. Rather,
focus on making the points you want to make and making them as clearly as possible. To be clear, you
will want to explicitly state your topic and any main points of this topic you intend to develop in the body
of your essay. Don't be vague, and don't intentionally create "suspense" for your reader. These are
kinds of "word games" and often they are evasive, ways of avoiding engagement with the subject. In
other words, a good introduction will always include an explicit
of your topic and your views or opinions concerning that topic.
thesis statement, a statement
 To write the kind of introductory paragraph that will work well as the foundation of your essay, you will
need to plan your essay ahead of time. While some students are able to write a decent essay without
some sort of outline, all students will write a better essay with an outline than they would have without
one. A good working outline will include a clear focus on the topic of the essay and clearly stated
main points regarding the topic. These main points will become the topics of the paragraphs in
the body of the essay. In other words, before you begin writing you should have a general idea of how
many paragraphs your essay will contain and of what the subject of these paragraphs will be.
ENC 1101: Writing Your Best Expository Essay (2)
 Finally, you should have in mind before you begin writing just what information or points you are going to
make to develop or support each of your paragraph topics. In some cases, you may decide that
you need to write more than one paragraph to develop the same main point, with each paragraph
focused on a particular sub-point of that main point. In general, you are the "architect" or " engineer" of
your essay. You should develop a clear focus on your purpose in writing the essay and then develop a
plan to achieve that purpose which conforms to the essay guidelines, including the 500 - 800 words
length. Of course, you may change or alter your plan as you write. The point is to begin with a plan.
Doing this will help you determine ahead of time whether you have a thesis statement which will
support an effective essay.
In other words, you want to know before you begin writing your essay whether a main point
may be so broadly stated or so narrowly stated that you really can't develop it properly in a
paragraph. You might also want to know whether one of your main points overlaps with
another. Some examples of weak and strong thesis statements follow below. A
student who tried to develop an outline from either of the two weak statements below would
almost certainly realize that his or her thesis is much too broad in scope to be effectively
developed.
The following are examples of weak thesis statements:
 My father is a trailblazer because he worries about the future and then works hard to make sure
it’s a good one for his family.
 My mother is a trailblazer because she has always been there for me, helping me into the future:
when I was a child, when I was a young adult, and now that I am a mother myself.
The following are examples of strong thesis statements:
 My father is a trailblazer because he is the kind of person who plans ahead, who is always reading and
learning, and who is courageous enough to question authority when he feels justice and compassion
are at stake.
 My mother is a trailblazer because has provided an example I can follow by raising four children to
know right from wrong, to know that hard work is fundamental to success in this world, and to know
that education expands one's future opportunities.
In conclusion:
 Conclude your essay with a closing paragraph in which you summarize the main points you have
developed in the body of your essay.
 Give your essay a title that says something about your specific essay, and be sure to capitalize this title
as a title should be capitalized.
 Finally, proofread and edit the draft of your essay as necessary.
A word about editing help . . .
I will be happy to schedule time with you to discuss the thesis and the outline of your essay, ideally in
personal consultation, but if this is not possible, then through e-mail. Editing help is available through the
Writing Lab in the ARC (Building #5) once you have given your essay some serious thought and have
developed an initial draft.
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always include an explicit thesis statement