Expository writing, by its very nature, is the most difficult of all writing. Words are innacurate symbols to capture the truth that exposition requires. Exposition should capture something and place it before your eyes, and make you see it the same way the writer saw it. This would be asking for perfection, an exercise in futility. As humans, we cannot clearly write an exposition on something as clearly as we saw it because our words and our own perception distort it. That is why expository writing needs multiple modes to paint the picture a little more clearer.
Ideally, expository writing is a clean window. Unfortunately, the best we can hope for as humans is a smudged window. We write the way we think people should see something, not the way that it actually is. Ralph Waldo Emerson said that words are insufficient to truly capture anything. This is at the heart of the challenge of expository writing. We know that our words are only second best to the true experience, but we write anyway, hoping someone will understand. We take special care not to write something the way we want others to see it, but the way it truly is.
This is the difference between persuasion and exposition. Persuasive writing wants the reader to adopt its viewpoint, and an exposition wants the reader to see it simply as it is. Material culture takes objects and uses them as symbols. In exposition, the writer tries to determine what that object represents to different people and why that object is used as a symbol in the first place. Exposition achieves its goal through many different techniques, such as narration, comparison, contrast, explanation, and summarization. Through these techniques, writers can use exposition to understand material culture.
Exposition is valuable far beyond material culture, however. Exposition is valuable to all the sciences especially because it reveals the world for what it really is. Francis Bacon is considered the father of scientific writing, and he understood how difficult expository writing can be. He argued that by our very nature, true expository writing is nearly impossible because our human nature and the words themselves distort what we are trying to express. Ultimately, the goal of science is to understand the world. It is also valuable in business as a communication tool in order to ensure proper teamwork and successful partnerships.
Most important of all, expository writing is a clean window to see the world. Expository writing, when done well, helps us understand our world and ourselves. I have learned so much about expository writing this semester, and I cannot wait to apply it to my own writing for the rest of my life.