Expository writing is writing that explains, sets forth, or defines a given topic. Expository is the adjective form of the noun exposition. Both words are derived from the verb expose, which means to make visible or known, to lay open, to put forth. Basically, all the writing you do in school is – in one sense or another – expository writing. You are always in the process of trying to explain something, whether it is your view of a particular work of literature, the causes of a particular historical event, the moral reasons to act in one way rather than another, the reasons a chemical reaction did (or did not) take place, etc. In some ways, even a letter you write to a friend is expository. Descriptive, narrative, persuasive, and literary writing (all of which we have done or will do this year) are each examples of expository writing.
Your next writing assignment is to write an expository essay about a family or cultural tradition that is important to you. Your focus can be an ethnic, cultural, or religious tradition; it can also be something that is important to your family, something that your family does ritualistically and thus has become a tradition. It can be a tradition that relates to an important holiday, like Christmas or another holiday. For example, you can write a great essay about the way you celebrate a particular holiday each year at your Grandmother’s home or how you always set up the Christmas tree the same way. There might be some food or meal that is an important tradition for your family. Of course, I would love this essay to be an opportunity for you to talk with your family about your traditions and to feel some pride in them. But that is not required. My sample essay is about the tradition in my family to go to Maine for a week every Summer: not a religious or cultural tradition, but something that has become very much a part of our family now – a tradition.
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