Monday, June 18, 2007

1. Model of an Expository Composition

Question: How do I apply the writing process to exposition?

Answer: 1. If necessary, study a model. 2. Brainstorm the topic. 3. Define the main idea. 4. Write a draft, including introductory material and summary concluding paragraph. 5. Revise and edit.

Let’s take it one step at a time. 1. The model for expository writing is “Tell them what you are gong to tell them. Tell them. Tell them what you told them.”

The structure of an expository composition is as follows:

1. Introductory material.
2. The main idea or thesis sentence. (Tell them what you are going to tell them.)
3. Topic sentences and paragraphs. (Tell them.)
4. Final, summary paragraph. (Tell them what you told them.)

What follows is an example of an expository composition:
Bold face: main idea and topic sentences. Italics: introductory material and final paragraph.

Tailgaters, Speeders and Slow Pokes

I was driving on a two-lane road winding through the Chester County, Pennsylvania, countryside with houses on either side and an unbroken yellow line in the middle of the road. That yellow line meant to me, “Do not pass.” I was behind a red Dodge pickup truck that was moving at exactly the speed limit of 25 miles an hour. I thought the driver could have driven a little faster. After all, the police do not pick you up unless you are going more than 10 miles over the speed limit, and the road, as far as I could see, was straight and clear. However, the driver ahead of me steadfastly maintained his speed at 25 miles an hour. I relaxed and decided to follow at a safe distance.

“Oh, oh,” I said to myself as I looked in the rear view mirror. Another pickup truck was barreling up the road behind me and slowed only when he was inches from my bumper. Impatiently, the driver of the truck behind me kept moving his vehicle out into the middle of the road, looking beyond my car. What could I do? The truck in front of me continued to drive at exactly the speed limit of 25 miles per hour. I could feel the frustration and anger of the driver behind me.

Suddenly, ignoring the yellow line, the driver of the truck behind me pulled out and began to pass. At exactly that moment, the driver of the truck in front of me put on his left-turn signal and started to turn into a driveway of a house on the left. You guessed it! The truck from behind me plowed broadside into the truck ahead of me as he pulled into the driveway. Luckily, nobody was hurt, but this incident illustrates the types of driving habits that cause accidents.

The driving habits of tailgaters, speeders and slow pokes can kill.

Tailgaters can kill. Each morning, I prepare to turn right on to Hall Road, the downslope of a hill. I look to the left. No cars as far as I can see. Quickly, I make my right turn and push my speed up to 40 miles per hour, about 5 miles above the speed limit. I look into my rear view mirror and, just as quickly, a car is only inches from my rear bumper. Where did he come from? A moment ago, not a car was in sight behind me. I am already over the speed limit, but this grouch seems to be pushing me to go even faster. My emotions explode. I want to make an obscene gesture, but I have learned to restrain myself. People have been shot for doing just that. I maintain my speed at 40 miles per hour and think about what could happen, even at this speed, if a deer suddenly crossed the road. Or worse! School bus stops dot Hall Road. What if a child wandered across the road? Would the tailgater be able to stop without smashing my car, him and me and causing the death or maiming of the child? Tailgating can kill.

Speeders can kill. Just last night, Action News featured the grim story of a 16-year-old boy on a back road who was driving extremely fast. He hit a bump in the road, the car went airborne, he lost control, the car rolled onto its top and slammed into a tree. One of his four passengers was killed instantly. A second faces a life of paralysis from the waist down. Another had been upgraded to “serious” condition. The driver, with barely a scratch, was treated and released from the hospital. This story is repeated all across the country, almost every day. Why can’t people who speed understand that their actions can kill?

Slowpokes can kill. I am on an Interstate. The speed limit is 65 miles an hour. I try to stay in the right lane because everyone else is passing at 70, 80, 85 miles an hour. Suddenly in front of me is a driver doing 45 miles an hour. 20 miles under the speed limit. I hit my brakes and breathe a sigh of relief when I avoid ramming into him. I look to the left, pull out and pass him, but as I do so, I look at the driver: he is gripping the wheel with both hands and doggedly maintaining his speed at 45 miles per hour. He is doing exactly the minimum speed, so he can’t be ticketed. I wonder. Suppose I hadn’t been paying attention. Suppose I had seen too late that he was going so slowly? I shudder. Slowpokes can kill.

Tailgaters, speeders and slow pokes have annoying habits that go far beyond making other drivers angry. They kill.

The main idea or thesis sentence and the topic sentences were in bold face. The introductory material and the final, summary paragraph were in italics. A model of an expository composition.

Next: 2. brainstorming and 3. defining a main idea or thesis sentence.

No comments: