Expository writing organization What's logical arrangement depends on
There is no such thing as a logical
order for expository writing. Instead, there are several patterns of organization that
may be logical in a given situation.
This page will show you what you must teach students
to consider when deciding which option to select
to organize a piece of nonfiction writing.
What makes nonfiction organization logical
Four factors determine whether a particular arrangement
of information makes sense in a specific piece of exposition:
The writer or speaker who is sending the
The audience the communicator wants to
reach with the message.
The content of the message.
The medium or communication channel.
As you are teaching students how to write, you need to help
them understand that their writing mustconsider all
four communications factors.
Even a brief look at these four factors shows that they
interact. Their interactiondetermines what
would be a logical arrangement for a particular communication.
You'll see it's no more reasonable to arrange a memo alphabetically,
for example, than to try to send a picture by radio.
The communicator's goal
The person who prepares the message has some purpose in mind.
English texts tell you the "Big 3" purposes are to inform,
persuade, or entertain.
True expository goals, however, are far more specific.
They are implied, if not stated, in the writer's thesis
statement. The writer's goal has a big impact on how that
writer organizes material.
The audience's wishes
Writers who organize their information
in ways their readers prefer are more
successful than those who do their own thing, ignoring what readers
want to see.
Some audiences want material arranged in ways they can easily
remember without referring to written documents. Others want a
closely reasoned discussion with plenty of detail.
The writer's content
Some material can be organized only one way. For example, if
you have to identify the top three candidates for the secretary's
job, the only sensible arrangement is numerical
On the other hand, numerical order wouldn't be a good way to
structure a discussion of the parts of a flower, would it?
The communication medium
Writers need to take into account how people read content
in a particular medium. For example, people read only the
headlines and first lines the paragraphs of blog posts unless
they are extremely interested in the message. That means the
topic sentence must be the first sentence of the paragraph.
The most important ways of organizing nonfiction information
are inverted pyramid and emphatic order.
You canand you mustexpose students to various methods
of organizing their writing so they can choose the logical
order most appropriate to the piece they are writing.
Be explicit; be a model
Hints and helps that are useful for good students are not enough for struggling
students or those with learning difficulties. Students who struggle with writing
need explicit directions and live models of how to write.