Expository Essay 3rd Person Shooter

1. Ditch the five-paragraph essay and embrace "authentic" essay structure. Times news and feature articles are excellent models for structure, including transitions and organization. Look at the guide to forms of Times news coverage to get started, and then deconstruct some articles to get a feel for how they are organized.

Classic news stories like this one about conflicts over rebuilding ground zero are written in the "inverted pyramid" format, starting with the most important information - the first paragraph or two answers the questions "Who?" "What?" "Where?" "When?" Why?" and "How?" - and proceeding with the most important details, filling in the less important information as the article proceeds. This can be a useful structure for, say, newspaper articles based on the events in a play or novel, or relatively short research reports.

Feature stories pull the reader in with an engaging introduction and develop from there to explain a topic, issue or trend. Examples of this structure: this article on gauging the national mood by tracking popular songs, blog posts and the like, and this column on the blankets-with-sleeves trend.

A sub-genre of the feature, the personality profile, is also a useful expository writing model, as in this lesson on Dickens, which suggests using a profile of Bernie Madoff as a model for writing a character profile, and this lesson on the literature Nobelist Naguib Mahfouz.

To take the idea of using newspaper story structures further, try this lesson on comparing classic storylines with news reports.

2. Two traditional essay writing bugaboos are introductions and conclusions. The Times is full of creative ways to open and end a narrative, and these can help developing writers learn to avoid clich�d openings and repetitive endings. Here are some of the approaches Times writers take to begin and end their stories, together with examples of each one:

  • Narrative opening: Telling a story that illustrates or encapsulates the issue at hand, like this story about the dangers associated with riding in a taxi when the cabby is using a phone and this one about fans paying homage to Michael Jackson
  • Descriptive opening: Describing an element that is key to the story, like this description of a high-end coffee machine in a feature on the topic of fancy coffee makers
  • Question opening: posing a rhetorical question that leads directly into the rest of the essay, like this article about popular baby names
  • Frame: Bringing the essay full circle by starting and ending with elements of the same story, like this article on Cuban doctors unable to practice in the U.S.
  • Quote kicker: Ending with a quote that sums up the essence of the essay, like this one on raising chickens
  • Future action kicker: Ending with a look toward what may or will happen in the future, as in this article on fake art in Vietnam

    Looking for more inspiration? Read John Noble Wilford's retrospective article about covering the 1969 moon landing, focusing on the section "Moonfall Eve," in which he recounts trying to figure out how to start his article. The upshot: Simple is often best.

    3.Informing and explaining - how things work or how to do something - is part of journalism's bread and butter. Good Times models for information/explanation essays include articles on how dark energy works, why and how Twitter can be useful, how to make a souffl� and how to avoid heatstroke. To find more examples, good starting places are the recipes in the Dining section and the Science and Health sections.

    One specific type of explanation essay is analysis - an examination of why and how an issue is significant. If you're looking for good models, The Times runs many pieces under the rubric "news analysis," such as this article on the significance of steroid use in baseball and this one on President Obama's remarks on the arrest of Henry Louis Gates. Read these, or other articles marked "news analysis," and then try writing your own analysis of an event - perhaps something that happened at school, or perhaps something that happened in a piece of literature or in history.

    4. In addition to information and explanation, there are a few other key expository patterns. Here are the most common ones, together with a Times models of each one, each paired with a related handout:

  • Comparison - Technology article on Bing vs. Google; Venn diagram
  • Cause and effect - Health article on "chemo brain"; Cause and Effect Organizer
  • Problem and solution - Op-Ed on how schools should handle flu outbreaks; Problem-Solution Organizer
  • Extended definition - The On Language column, such as this column on the use of "associate", "model" and even "the" and the Times Health Guide, a library of information on numerous health conditions; Vocabulary Log

    For more fun with definitions, see the Schott's Vocab blog.

    5. Whether you're writing a descriptive piece or incorporating description into a larger expository essay, specific details are vital, as in this piece on a city mural and this one about Michael Jackson's signature dance moves.

    Of course, one of the best places to find colorful descriptions is the Times' Sports pages, as in this article about a tennis match played by Rafael Nadal. Use our Play-by-Play Sports Descriptions sheet to get a closer look at descriptive phrases in this or other sports articles.

    6. "I've said all I have to say." "How can I possibly write three pages on this topic?" "What do you mean, develop my ideas?" Essay writers often struggle with adequate development. Times features are perfect examples of how to fully develop ideas. For example, you might read "Drivers and Legislators Dismiss Cellphone Risks" or Michael Pollan's polemic on cooking shows and the decline of home cooking in the Sunday Magazine. Then create a "reverse outline" to reveal how the writer developed the piece.

    7. Like development, smoothly incorporating supporting material and evidence - including introducing and integrating quotations - can be a challenge for young writers. Add the requirement to follow MLA or APA style for citations, and for many students the challenge is insurmountable. Part of the problem may be that most students see few articles or other texts with academic citations in their daily lives. Using The Times for models can help.

    You might suspend traditional academic style requirements, and instead try newspaper-style attribution or even the Web protocol of linking to the source of information - such as this article on digital curriculum materials, which, among many, many others, shows both approaches. Other articles, like this one about government recommendations to schools regarding swine flu, are good examples of how to integrate both partial and full quotations, as well as how to include paraphrases.

    8. Subject-verb and noun-pronoun agreement can trouble even established writers at the newspaper of record itself, as the After Deadline blog has discussed, more than once. Once you've reviewed agreement rules, test yourself by looking for errors in the daily paper. And given that Times style is to avoid using "he" as a universal pronoun, virtually any news article or feature provides examples of ways to write around the singular pronoun. Of course, it would help us all if English had an all-purpose, generic pronoun, wouldn't it?

    More on agreement and other grammar and language quirks can be found on the Grammar and Usage and Reading and Writing Skills Times Topics pages, as well as on our Teaching with The Times page on Language and Usage.

    9. News briefs and summaries are models of conciseness and clarity. Read a few briefs, like the ones about the music video directed by Heath Ledger, the death of a show-biz dog, and a spate of squid attacks. And for the ultimate in brevity, look at TimesWire for one-sentence (or sentence fragment) summaries of the latest articles.

    10. Can't use the first person in expository writing? No one uses second person? Third person is required, and must remain entirely neutral and objective? Pshaw! The Times regularly uses all three perspectives, in creative and effective ways. Here are examples:

  • First person - "Watching Whales, Watching Us", a Sunday Magazine article in which the reporter included personal experience alongside research, and "Finally, the Spleen Gets Some Respect", Natalie Angier's scientific report on the spleen, in which she characterizes herself as splenetic
  • Second person - "Party On, but No Tweets", and the Gadgetwise blog post on a smartphone app for stargazers, which explains how the tool works, both of which repeatedly refer to "you," avoiding the clunky and unnecessarily distancing "one"
  • Third person with a clear voice/personality - Rob Walker's "Consumed" column in the Sunday Magazine, such as the one on the yoga "lifestyle" shop Lululemon and the Style feature "Hair, Hair, Hair, Hair, Hair, Hair"

    Use these and other Times models to learn how to write an expository essay that is compelling, convincing and authoritative as well as engaging to read.


    The banner image above was based on a College Board image of sample SAT essays, from the article Perfect's New Profile, Warts and All by Tamar Lewin.
  • The authors of these pieces are using their own personal experience as evidence. To tell what they know, they use first-person pronouns: I, me, my, mine and myself or we, us, our, ours, ourselves.

    All writers in this collection speak for themselves—and themselves alone.


    Bad Dog

    Writer Rachel Maizes recounts life with Chance, her often aggressive, mixed breed dog.

    Definition • Humans and Their Animals • First Person • Discussion Questions & Writing Prompts • Connect with Author

    Beware the Beagle

    Emily Yoffe, Slate's "Dear Prudie" and a reformed beagle owner, explains why these headstrong little monsters might not be the best choice for a first-time dog owner.

    Narration • Humans and Their Animals • First Person • Discussion Questions & Writing Prompts • Connect with Author

    A Box of Puppies

    Lena Dunham, creator and star of the HBO series Girls, chronicles the dogs that she has pursued as pets.

    Example and Illustration • Humans and Their Animals • First Person • Discussion Questions & Writing Prompts • Connect with Author

    Cheating in CollegeVideo

    YouTube vlogger sWooZie describes what happened after he spotted two friends cheating on a humanities exam.
    Narration • School Life • First Person • Discussion Questions & Writing Prompts • Connect with Author

    Crabs

    Novelist Edwidge Danticat describes a meal that she will never forget.

    Description • Times and Places • First Person • Discussion Questions & Writing Prompts • Connect with Author

    Deep Intellect

    Naturalist Sy Montgomery gets in the mind of an octopus and is amazed not only at what she finds but also at the existing research on these intelligent creatures.

    Argument and Persuasion • Humans and Their Animals • First Person • Discussion Questions & Writing Prompts • Connect with Author

    Dive Nights

    This brief memoir examines the conflict within a family when an economic reality crashes into a cultural value. Writer Jiayang Fan tries to understand why her parents accused her of a family "crime" that she did not commit and did not understand.

    Narration • Identity • First Person • Discussion Questions & Writing Prompts • Connect with Author

    End the Charade: Let Athletes Major in Sports

    David Pargman, professor emeritus at Florida State University, gives his reasons why athletes should study sports, their real focus in college.

    Argument and Persuasion • Sport • First Person • Discussion Questions & Writing Prompts

    Epcot Taught Me to Love International Food

    Writer Alexandra Owens describes how she discovered international cuisine by visiting EPCOT's World Showcase in Walt Disney World.

    Cause and Effect • Identity • First Person • Discussion Questions & Writing Prompts • Connect with Author

    Facebook: The New Meaning of "Friend"

    Writer Val Brown shares her own take on how Facebook has redefined the word "friend."

    Definition • Identity • First Person • Discussion Questions & Writing Prompts • Connect with Author

    Fifth Avenue, Uptown

    Writer James Baldwin argues for human rights, using history to compare blacks/whites, southerners/northerners, and the haves/have-nots.

    Argument and Persuasion • Modern Challenges • First Person • Discussion Questions & Writing Prompts

    Four-Legged Reason to Keep It Together

    Timothy Braun, a writer and teacher, describes how his life changed after rescuing Dusty, a shelter dog on death row.

    Narration • Humans and Their Animals • First Person • Discussion Questions & Writing Prompts • Connect with Author

    The Fourth State of Matter

    Essayist Jo Ann Beard recounts a workplace shooting.

    Narration • Modern Challenges • First Person • Discussion Questions & Writing Prompts

    Fruitful Questions: Sometimes, Things Aren't as Different as They Seem

    Freelance author James Sollisch explains the nature of critical thinking by giving examples of people who shifted old paradigms.

    Example and Illustration • School Life • First Person • Discussion Questions & Writing Prompts

    How I Fell for Cats

    Candy Crowley, a CNN reporter and devoted dog person, explains how two cats changed her opinion of felines.

    Narration • Humans and Their Animals • First Person • Discussion Questions & Writing Prompts • Connect with Author

    How I Found Love and Companionship Online

    Match.com and PetFinder.org want to help people find their perfect companion. Susan Hogan, a writer and teacher, describes her experiences using these two websites.

    Comparison and Contrast • Humans and Their Animals • First Person • Discussion Questions & Writing Prompts

    How to Get a Real Education

    Scott Adams, the creator of the Dilbert comic strip, explains how he got the most out of his college education and offers advice to students now enrolled.

    (This essay is now behind the Wall Street Journal paywall. You must access it through Newsstand. Sign in to Atlas to access this database.)

    Process Analysis • School Life • First Person • Discussion Questions & Writing Prompts • Connect with Author

    I Won’t Hire People Who Use Poor Grammar. Here’s Why.

    CEO Kyle Wiens explains the correlation between someone's grammar competence and that person's readiness for professional life.

    Cause and Effect • Language and Writing • First Person • Discussion Questions & Writing Prompts • Connect with Author

    I'm a Cat Lady? Thank You

    Stephanie Butnik, writing for the New York Times, tries to dispel the myth that cat people are crazy by defining the "new" cat owner.

    Definition • Humans and Their Animals • First Person • Discussion Questions & Writing Prompts • Connect with Author

    I’m Not “That Creepy Guy from the Internet”: How Gamergate Gave the Geek Community a Bad Name

    Actor Arthur Chu describes his history as a gamer to show his understanding of and anger at the Gamergate community.

    Narration • Modern Challenges • First Person • Discussion Questions & Writing Prompts • Connect with Author

    Is It Immoral to Watch the Super Bowl?

    Steve Almond, writing for the New York Times, believes that fans must admit that they are complicit in the brain-damaged players that football produces.

    Argument and Persuasion • Sport • First Person • Discussion Questions & Writing Prompts • Connect with Author

    A Journey into My Colon — and Yours

    Former Miami Herald Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Dave Barry finally gets a colonoscopy (and we all get to read about it).

    Narration • Times and Places • First Person • Discussion Questions & Writing Prompts • Connect with Author

    Journey Into Night

    Essayist David Sedaris describes a flight to Paris in which he takes advantage of first-class seating, meets a grieving man, and wonders about the genuineness of people, including himself.

    Narration • Identity • First Person • Discussion Questions & Writing Prompts • Connect with Author

    The Market as God

    Harvard professor of divinity Harvey Cox takes a theological approach to understanding the business world.

    Analogy • Times and Places • First Person • Discussion Questions & Writing Prompts • Connect with Author

    The Most Delicious Love of All

    Although foodie Claire Berger entertains the idea of dating men, in this essay she explains that her current relationship is with food.

    Analogy • Love and Relationships • First Person • Discussion Questions & Writing Prompts • Connect with Author

    My High-School Hoax

    Novelist Teddy Wayne recounts a plagiarism episode and the lesson that he eventually learned from it.
    Narration • School Life • First Person • Discussion Questions & Writing Prompts • Connect with Author

    No, I Do Not Want to Pet Your Dog

    Farhad Manjoo, a technology columnist, argues that people deserve some dog-free zones.

    Argument and Persuasion • Humans and Their Animals • First Person • Discussion Questions & Writing Prompts • Connect with Author

    Of Greatness

    Abraham Cowley, a seventeenth-century poet, explores the vanity of human wishes and makes some proposals about how we should live.

    Argument and Persuasion • Identity • First Person • Discussion Questions & Writing Prompts

    On the Pleasure of Hating

    In this nineteeth century essay, writer William Hazlitt argues that hatred of others is at bottom hatred of self.

    Argument and Persuasion • Love and Relationships • First Person • Discussion Questions & Writing Prompts

    The Other Side of the Living Sea

    Author Tiphanie Yanique describes Vega Baja, Puerto Rico, the place where her grandmother was raised.

    Description • Times and Places • First Person • Discussion Questions & Writing Prompts • Connect with Author

    Parenting and Heart Attacks

    Writer Abby Sher, a 40-year-old mother, writes about her young daughter learning to deal with death.

    Narration • Love and Relationships • First Person • Discussion Questions & Writing Prompts • Connect with Author

    The Perfect Essay

    John Kaag, a professor of philosophy and expository writing, explains how his mother's constant and consistent criticisms of his essays affected his writing.

    Cause and Effect • Language and Writing • First Person • Discussion Questions & Writing Prompts • Connect with Author

    Same LoveVideo

    In the video for the song "Same Love," hip hop duo Macklemore and Ryan Lewis argue for marriage equality.

    Argument and Persuasion • Love and Relationships • First Person • Discussion Questions & Writing Prompts • Connect with Authors

    Shut up and Eat

    Author John Lanchester explains how our idea of food and what "food" means has changed.

    Definition • Identity • First Person • Discussion Questions & Writing Prompts • Connect with Author

    Such, Such Were the Joys

    George Orwell, best known for the novels 1984 and Animal Farm, recounts his experiences at St. Cyprian's, an English preparatory school for boys.

    Narration • School Life • First Person • Discussion Questions & Writing Prompts

    To Siri, with Love: How One Boy with Autism Became BFF with Apple’s Siri

    Judith Newman, Gus's mother, movingly demonstrates that modern interactions via technology aren't all bad.

    Narration • Love and Relationships • First Person • Discussion Questions & Writing Prompts • Connect with Author

    Upon Some Verses of Virgil

    Michel de Montaigne, writing in the seventeenth century, expands upon eros and marriage and other human problems.

    Cause and Effect • Love and Relationships • First Person • Discussion Questions & Writing Prompts

    The Vietnam in Me

    Novelist Tim O'Brien, a Vietnam veteran, explores war, love, history, depression, and loss.

    Narration • Times and Places • First Person • Discussion Questions & Writing Prompts

    Why I Quit the Company

    Tomoyuki Iwashita, once employed in a "dream" job, examines the effects of his working for a traditional, demanding Japanese company.

    Cause and Effect • Identity • First Person • Discussion Questions & Writing Prompts

    Winter Animals

    Transcendentalist Henry David Thoreau describes the animals that he encounters during his two-year-long experiment of living a simple life in nature.

    Description • Humans and Their Animals • First Person • Discussion Questions & Writing Prompts

    Yes, It Does Matter If Jonathan Bennett Is Gay and Out of the Closet or Not, and Here's Why

    Noah Michelson, Executive Editor of the Huffington Post's Gay Voices, argues that homosexuals, especially homosexual celebrities, have a responsibility to come out publicly.

    Argument and Persuasion • Identity • First Person • Discussion Questions & Writing Prompts • Connect with Author

    You Are Ready to Find Her

    In the process of giving up her child for adoption, Leigh Anne Tani reflects on her own adoption into a family.

    Example and Illustration • Love and Relationships • First Person • Discussion Questions & Writing Prompts

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