Explanatory Writing - Verona School District

Explanatory Writing
Outline -When writing an explanatory
writing assignment, you are expected to
write about a page and a half to two
pages in 30 minutes.
PARAGRAPH ONE: Introduction
• ATTENTION GRABBER: Begin with a BRIEF anecdote
(story) that you will expand in paragraph 3.
-State the quote and the speaker in a complete sentence.
For Example: Thomas Edison said, “Genius is 1%
inspiration, 99% perspiration.”
-Explain the quote in your own (different) words
• THESIS: explain how the quote relates to the world and
to you. This is your last sentence in paragraph one.
Ex. This quote by Martin Luther King Jr. reminds me of the
Holocaust and the time I was in the school play.
• Topic Sentence: Relate the quote to the
WORLD (a movie, book, song, poem, sport’s
figure, event in history etc.)
• EXPLAIN the event and how it relates to the
• Closing Sentence (sum up your paragraph).
• Topic Sentence: Relate the quote to
YOURSELF/someone close to you (make up a
story if need be).
***This should be the same story you used in
Paragraph One (Full-circle Ending)***
• EXPLAIN how your experience relates to the
Paragraph 4 : Conclusion
• Reflect on lesson learned from the quote.
• RESTATE THESIS (summarize main points)
• Draw four columns.
• Brainstorm for each paragraph.
Par. 1
Par. 2
Jot down what
your quote
MEANS in your
own words:
Brainstorm how
the quote relates
to the world
(movie, book,
athlete etc.):
Jot down how the
Restate your
quote relates to
thesis and state
the lesson you
learned from the
REMINDERS about what you need to think about and include when
writing an explanatory essay:
• Eye-catching opening. Ideas: dialogue, action happening, an
onomatopoeia like “bang!”, or an anecdote (story)
Example: Running through the hall, with my palms sweating, I
knew I was going to be late to class.
• Describe the setting. An easy way to get yourself started is to
describe the setting of your anecdote (where it takes place). Think
of your five senses to help you – things you see, hear, smell, tough
and taste in that setting.
Example: As usual, the hall smelled of sweat because the 8th
graders had just completed gym class. I saw Billy up
ahead of me, running too, and I could hear the bell ring even as I
ran. I was going to be late again.
• Thesis. Tell all your sub-topics in the last sentence in your
Example: This quote by Mother Goose relates to the movie
Avatar, and to one time when I was late to class.
• Sensory Detail. Think of your five senses: sight, sound,
touch, smell, taste. Use these to your advantage while
writing – list the sounds, sights, smells in the air etc.
This makes it easier for your reader to picture your
• Enriched vocabulary. Try to impress me with words
that I would never expect to hear in your writing. Do
NOT use tired words like nice, happy, sad etc.
• Descriptive Language. Use many adjectives, and
describe EVERYTHING in specific details. Paint “word
pictures” for your readers.
• Figurative Language. Use metaphors, similes,
personification and idioms.
• Compositional Risk. Beginning with an anecdote, using
flashback, figurative language used throughout.
• Grammar and Mechanics.
• Well-developed. Explain EVERYTHING. How does what
you are talking about relate to the quote?
• Show, not tell. Do NOT say things like, “I am going to
tell you…” or “These are the reasons why…”
• Example: This quote reminds me of a time when I was
continually late to class.
• Use Transitions.
• Examples: first of all, one way, throughout, finally,
more importantly etc.
• Sentence Variation. Begin some sentences with
prepositional phrases and transitional phrases)
Ask yourself:
What did I do on
purpose to make my
essay excellent?
Practice Doing Things On Purpose
• Similes and Metaphors – compare two unlike
things for effect.
Simile e.g. “He looked like a bear.”
Metaphor e.g. “He was a bear surrounded by
little people.”
Rewrite these sentences using
figurative language
• The football fans cheered loudly.
• The tree in autumn lost all its leaves.
• The full moon shone brightly.
• The dance moved gracefully.
Practice Using Sensory Details (looks,
feels, sounds, smells, tastes)
• A sweet scent of lilacs perfumed the air.
• Lush green leaves surrounded the lavendar
• The bees hummed and buzzed like a noisy
power saw.
***Use sensory words to make your writing
more specific and concrete***
Practice- Write at least two words that
describe each subject below
A tree in winter
Stew simmering on the stove
A crowd at a football game
A book on a library shelf
Starting a car engine on a cold day
Personfication – adding human
character traits to something nonhuman
Change the underlined word to words that
would describe a human’s action.
• My bedroom door opened.
• My old shoes squeaked when I walked.
• The book fell off the table.
• All the cars’ headlights went on.
Sample Explanatory Essay
As I sat there waiting for my friend, Anna, to call me, I realized that I
needed to stop depending on her for a ride to work anymore. This was the
third time she had been over a half hour late in the past month! The quote, “A
man of words and not of deeds is like a garden full of weeds,” by Mother
Goose came to mind while I was waiting. This quote helped me to understand
that although people may have good intentions when they say something, it
doesn’t mean that they are going to follow through and be able to keep their
word. It reminded me to make sure that I am a person of my word, that when
I say that I will do something or be somewhere, I have to be there, or else my
word will become cheap and others will have no reason to believe me, even
when it really matters . This quote relates to a well-known story of the boy
who called “Wolf” too many times, and also to a friendship in my life.
Being a person of your word is important, as can be seen in the story
“The Boy Who Called Wolf”. In the story, there was a young boy who was
responsible for keeping the sheep outside of the village safe. He was a
shepherd. It was his job to call out loud for help if a wolf or other predator
came nearby to harm the sheep. This boy wondered whether the men from
the village would actually come if there was a problem, so one day he called,
“Wolf!” and the men all dropped their work and ran to him to help. When
they saw they had been tricked, they angrily went back into town. Another
time, the boy just thought it would be funny to see all the grown-ups run, so
he called, “wolf!” again. He kept this up, and soon people stopped coming
when he yelled. However, one day, a wolf really did come up to the sheep, but
when the boy called, “Wolf!” no one really believed him, and so no one came
to help him. He had been a boy of “many words, and not of deeds” and was
“like a garden full of weeds”, totally useless and annoying to everyone. His
words did not match his actions, and he proved that if you are not a person of
your word, people will stop trusting you.
In order to avoid becoming a burden and
annoyance to my friends, I took note of my friend Anna.
As I mentioned before, my friend Anna often gave me a
ride to work. However, although I really enjoyed our time
together, I was beginning to become annoyed with her.
Since she had been late so many times, even though I
couldn’t help it, I got in trouble at work for being late. I
knew it was really her fault. My friend frequently told me
one thing, and used her words, but her actions did not
match her words. Anna’s words were not helpful; it
turned out that they were untrue and did not serve the
purpose that they should have. This reminds me of a
garden full of weeds, because a garden should serve a
practical or beautiful purpose, and it can’t do that if it is
full of weeds.
These situations helped me to realize that I
need to keep my word and avoid becoming like
“a garden full of weeds”; something that could
be beautiful, but is really unpleasant to
experience. The quote , “A man of words and
not of deeds is like a garden full of weeds,” by
Mother Goose related to the story of the little
boy who cried “wolf!” and to my friendship with
Anna. If you want to be trusted, make sure you
keep your word!
Explanatory Writing Checklist – answer each question.
• Do you have an eye-catching opening (begin with an action or
• Did you explain what the quote means in the first paragraph?
• Do you have a thesis statement at the end of the first paragraph
(tells how the quote relates to the world and to yourself)?
• Do you have a clear topic sentence introducing the topic of the
second paragraph (how it relates to the world?)
• Do you explain how the quote links to the world?
• Do you have a clear topic sentence introducing how the quote
relates to you personally?
• Did you elaborate on your anecdote from paragraph one, and
explain how the quote relates to your life?
• Did you restate the thesis at the end of the essay?
• What did you do on purpose to make your essay good (simile,
metaphor, magic three, sensory details etc.)?
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