Essay on The Apparent Tyranny of Expository Writing

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Expository writing is the genre of writing that is intended to blah blah blah, blah, blah blah. Unfortunately this is where the average reader of expository writing tunes out and ceases to listen, allowing his eyes to find a meandering course across the pages until finally he glances over the last paragraph, and with a sigh a relief he is finished—having gained no more knowledge than he would have wasting away on his video game console. The idea that ‘reading’ is synonymous with ‘work’ has engrained such a fear of the exposition of mere facts into students that as soon as they sense that that is what they are being given, their eyes cease to read, their mind begins to wander and their senses become keenly aware of their surroundings, the time, and how many more pages they are required to blankly stare at. Even more terrifying to students is the infamous assignment of writing an expository work: nothing is more tedious than mindlessly spewing information. This mentality is particularly unfortunate as it has numbed readers to the value of gaining knowledge—allowing excuses like the notion that the topic doesn’t particularly interest them or that the author’s style is too bland to intimidate them into avoiding all reading above an elementary difficulty. Not to say that the entirety of the blame ought to fall on the readers, for a good writer not only writes to portray a message, but to do so eloquently.
One of the biggest repellents that expository writing has to offer is its lack of personality. Readers avoid impersonal authors, and it seems that the majority of expository authors feel that demonstrate that a human wrote their work is one of the seven deadly sins. Work that’s interesting to the reader is interesting to the writer,...

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...gnant. Not to say that the only people who ought to write are established wordsmiths but that a writer ought to find the wordsmith in him: to learn how to portray his idea—and therefore himself—as accurately and eloquently as possible in his writing. As Zinsser said, ‘my commodity as a writer, whatever it is I am writing about, is me’ (231). For no one can learn through merely reading; he can only learn through people: thus good writing embeds the author into an otherwise lifeless jumble of words and facts.

Works Cited

Adler, Mortimer and Charles Van Doren. How to Read a Book: the Classic Guide to Intellegent Reading. New York: Touchstone, 1972
Gibaldi, Joseph. MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. New York: The Modern Language Association, 2003
Zinsser, William K. On Writing Well: the Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction. New York: HarperCollins, 2006

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