Below is a list of the various patterns of development most frequently found in expository writing. Included are explanations and possible topics for each method of development.
Narration: A narrative paragraph/essay tells a story of an event or an experience. The story told, however, must have some point that is meaningful to the reader or target audience. That is, it must have purpose.
Ø A childhood memory
Ø A day you’ll never forget
Ø An event that helped you learn a lesson
Ø A funny school or work story
Ø An embarrassing experience
Ø A frightening experience
Description: A descriptive paragraph/essay uses sensory images (sight, smell, touch, taste, and hearing) to help a reader or target audience experience what the writer has experienced. As with all other patterns, a descriptive essay must have a point or purpose. Description is often paired with the narrative because a good narrative contains description of sights, sounds, tastes, smells, and even emotions.
Ø A kitchen
Ø An elderly relative
Ø A hard-working student
Ø An outstanding athlete
Ø A loyal friend
Ø A gossipy neighbor
Ø A rude salesperson
Ø The dinner hour at my house
Ø Lunchtime in a cafeteria
Ø A midnight raid on the refrigerator
Ø Getting ready to go out on a Friday night
Ø My Sunday morning routine
Ø A large department store
Ø A sports stadium
Ø A shoe store
Ø A night spot
Ø A winter storm
Ø A winter walk
Ø Jogging in the rain
Ø Sunbathing on a beach
Ø The woods in autumn
Ø Halloween night
Ø Christmas morning
Process Analysis: A process analysis explains to a reader how to do something or how something works.
Ø How to make a favorite dish
Ø How to throw the perfect free-throw
Ø How to meet the man (woman) of your dreams
Ø How to change a tire
Ø How a camera works
Ø How a computer works
: A comparison/contrast paragraph/essay generally focuses on similarities or differences but not usually both.
Compare or contrast:
Ø High school teachers and college teachers
Ø Working for someone else and being your own boss
Ø Being married and dating
Ø Raising boys and raising girls
Ø Cooking dinner at home versus dining out
Ø A sports figure’s public image, versus his or her private personality
Ø A politician’s promises before an election with those after an election
Ø Attitudes toward smoking twenty years ago and those of today
Ø An actor or musician on stage with the same actor offstage
Ø Traditional portrayal of American Indians (in old films, for example) with portrayals today
Ø Two attitudes toward religion
Causal Analysis: A causal analysis paragraph/essay explains a cause and effect relationship. A cause explains what made an event happen. An effect is what happens as a result of the event.
Ø The causes of prostitution
Ø The causes of child abuse
Ø The causes of teen suicide
Ø The causes of teen violence
Ø The causes of high school dropouts
Ø The effects of divorce on children
Ø The effects of regular exercise
Ø The effects of overeating
Ø The effects of substance abuse on the body
Ø The effects of absenteeism in school
Illustration: An illustration paragraph/essay is developed through the use of examples. That is, it provides instances of the controlling idea a writer is attempting to clarify.
Ø People I Have Admired
Ø The World’s Worst Habits
Ø What Makes a Class Exciting
Ø What Makes a Good Husband/Wife
Ø Features to Look for When Buying a _________
Definition: A definition paragraph/essay uses any number of patterns of development to explain the meaning of a word. It usually develops the connotative idea rather than the denotative definition.
Ø A good marriage
Ø Snack foods
Ø Soft drinks
Ø Summer jobs
Ø Television commercials
Argumentation/Persuasion: An argumentative paragraph/essay attempts to educate a reader on a controversial issue usually with the intent of persuading that reader to view the issue from the writer’s point of view and often ending with a call to action, requesting the reader to make or initiate a change.
Ø Cigarette ads should not target young people.
Ø People should not go overboard when dieting.
Ø Wealthy people receive special privileges in our society.
Ø Advertisements should not use skinny models.
Ø Public school children should/should not wear uniforms.
Ø Pornography is too accessible on the Internet.
Ø Americans are a fix-it-with-a-pill society.
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