At some point in your high school or college career, you will likely need to write an expository essay that explores an idea by making an argument. The most important part of your essay is your thesis statement -- a debatable claim that the rest of your paper supports through reasons and evidence. As you consider techniques to make your writing more interesting, remain focused on the goal of supporting your thesis.
Anecdotes are small stories or accounts of actual people or incidents. Not only do readers find stories engaging, but anecdotes can be used to help drive home particular points by showing real examples of reasons or evidence you discuss in your paper. Anecdotes can bring alive dry statistics or make reasons feel more personal. Note that anecdotes don't typically make good reasons or evidence in and of themselves because a single example or a personal story is only a statistic of one. Anecdotes should exemplify a point you have already made. Anecdotes work particularly well in the introduction or conclusion, though they can be used in body paragraphs as well.
Quotes can be used in many different ways in a paper. Don't just leave the quote hanging around in the paper without grounding, though. It should be followed by an explanation of why you chose it or analysis in support of your point. You can quote an expert to use as evidence in your paper. In the introduction, you might use a famous quote to engage the reader right away. You can also use a startling or absurd quote to prove a point about how the opposition is wrong or doesn't fully understand the issue. Quotes are engaging, but choose them carefully. Remember that most of the paper should be in your own words.
Another way to engage the reader is to offer a surprising fact or statistic. If you're writing about binge drinking, for example, you might use a statistic about the number of college students who engage in that activity. If you're writing about the need for better education about drug use, you might use a statistic that shows how many students believe a particular piece of wrong information. Facts and statistics make great evidence, and a particularly interesting or surprising fact can grab your readers' attention right away.
A Compelling Arguement
Finally, you can add all the bells and whistles you want, but the best way to make your essay interesting is to carefully develop your paper. Make sure the writing is clear and concise and that the paper itself flows in a logical manner. Don't get lost in creating an interesting facade and forget the point of your essay. Make sure you have evidence to support all of your reasons, and that each of these reasons speaks back to your thesis. A unique, nuanced and compelling argument is your best bet if you want to writing an interesting paper -- and get a good grade.
- Purdue Online Writing Lab: Expository Essay
- The Craft of Argument; Joseph Williams and Gregory Colomb; 2006
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