Expository writing is a staple of academic writing. Throughout your academic and professional career, you will be called on to write hundreds of expository articles, reports and essays. A thorough knowledge of this writing form will hold you in good stead all through your career.
The best way to improve writing skills is through regular practice. Depending on your current education level, you can use these 30 writing prompts to guide your writing practice. Another option is to take up this course on quality paragraph and essay writing.
What is an Expository Writing?
‘Expository’ is a synonym of ‘explanatory’. An expository essay or article, thus, is a piece of writing that explains or informs. It is meant to be based on fact and free of the writer’s prejudices. Opinion is often expressed, but only if it is backed by fact. For example, if someone asked you to write an essay on the causes of World War II, you would write about Germany’s losses in World War I, the Treaty of Versailles, the fall of the Weimar Republic and the rise of Hitler led Nazism. In other words, everything would be based on verifiable fact – an expository essay.
The expository writing process is centered on four activities:
Generate a rough idea or hypothesis.
Find evidence to back up this idea.
Expound on the idea.
Present an argument to back up the idea.
Thus, if you were to say that the Treaty of Versailles was the chief cause of World War II, you would first talk about the conditions of the Treaty of Versailles, the financial condition of Germany after WWI, the ineffectiveness of the Weimar Republic, and how they all led to the rise of Nazism.
Structurally, a piece of expository writing has the following components:
An introduction that introduces the central idea you’ll talk about in the essay or article.
The main body that presents evidence to back up the idea. This is the meat of the essay and should be at least 3-4 paragraphs long.
A conclusion that presents your idea again in the light of the evidence.
Thus, the central thrust of expository writing should be to build towards proving an argument, fact by fact, evidence by evidence. You’ll use expository writing a lot throughout your academic life. Every essay you write in college will be expository in nature, as will the writing segment of the SAT/GMAT/GRE exams. Most writing you’ll have to do in your professional life will involve a lot of expository content as well. In other words, sharpening up this skill will serve you well throughout your life. This course on developing technical writing skills should help you get started on your writer’s journey.
Expository Writing Prompts
To help you get started with expository writing, let’s take a look at some popular, fun and useful expository writing prompts:
Secondary School Level Expository Prompts
1. Who do you admire the most in the world? Why?
2. If you could be any animal for a day, what would you be and why?
3. If you could live as any one person for a day, who would you choose and why?
4. If time travel was possible, which year would you go back in time to? Give a reasons for your answer.
5. What is your favorite book? What did you enjoy the most about it?
6. Who is your favorite teacher? How has he/she affected your education?
7. Describe your favorite vacation spot. Give reasons as to why you enjoy going there.
8. If you could change any one thing in the world, what would it be and why?
9. Write a paper describing a favorite day you spent with your family. Give at least three reasons why you enjoyed this day so much. Be as specific as possible.
10. What kind of music do you like listening to? What are your favorite singers or bands? Give reasons for your choice.
High School Level Writing Prompts
These topics require a bit more research and test the writer’s expository writing skills. They are best used for high school students, although secondary students in advanced writing classes can also benefit from them.
1. There is a strong parent-led campaign in your city to curb down on homework assignments given to students. As a student, however, you feel homework is essential to promoting learning. Write a paper arguing your stand by giving specific examples and statistics to show the benefits of homework.
2. Mobile phones are both a boon and a bane for high school students. On the one hand, it puts you in touch with the world, on the other, it discourages real face-to-face interaction. Write a paper that explores both the pros and cons of mobile phone usage among teenagers.
3. A lot of medical research today focuses on developing medicinal cures to ageing. Presumably, with the right breakthrough, humankind would live forever. How do you feel about this? Write a paper describing the advantages and disadvantages of extremely long life.
4. There has been a concentrated campaign in your school to curb bullying. While the campaign has been largely successful within schools, bullying has now reared its ugly head in online communities. Describe how online bullying is different from real-life bullying, and what steps can be taken to curb it.
5. In a globalized world, learning a foreign language has become increasingly important. Do you agree or disagree? Explain your answer in a detailed essay. Use facts, statistics and studies to supplement your views.
6. What are the qualities of a good leader? What can you learn from the examples of great leaders of the past?
7. You use the internet on an everyday basis. While the internet has a huge list of benefits, it has some downsides too. Write an essay exploring the disadvantages of using the internet, specifically referring to internet addiction, and information overload.
8. What is your favorite hobby? Describe how someone could go about learning this hobby, and what benefits he can gain from it.
9. If you were to volunteer to work in your community, where would you work and why?
10. A few members of your community have lost their home due to a nearby forest fire. Explain how you would help these community members and help them recover from their loss.
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College Level Writing Prompts
As we move further on the academic ladder, writing prompts require detailed research and a college-level grasp of subject matter.
1. Explore how obesity affects a nation’s productivity and economy.
2. What were the direct and indirect causes of World War II?
3. What are the long-term effects of global warming, especially its estimated impact on coastal cities.
4. What is your favorite retail business (Starbucks, McDonalds, etc.)? Describe to a layman how this business was started, what products it sells, how it makes money, and what are its best qualities.
5. Describe the evolution of communication in the last 20 years since the advent of the internet.
6. What is your favorite poem or short story? Explore and analyze its salient features in an essay.
7. What is a serious public health concern that you believe does not get enough attention? Describe this problem in detail. Back up your arguments with appropriate research.
8. Why is diversity in a workplace important?
9. What are the causes and effects of not voting in the elections?
10. What steps would you take to buy a new computer? Describe the process in-detail.
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What are your favorite writing prompts? We’d love to hear about them in the comments below!