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thought, and the close weave of fact. Expository writing is commonly divided into Definition and Analysis. Definition attempts to set bounds to the subject, to say "thus far and no farther,” to tell what the subject is. Analysis regards the subject as composed of parts, mutually related, which together form the whole, and attempts to divide the subject into as many parts as it contains. Analysis is divided into classification and partition. Classification groups individual members according to likeness, as one might classify Americans according to color or birthplace or education or health, in every case placing those who are alike together. Partition divides an organic whole into its parts, as one might divide the United States Government into its three branches of legislative, judicial, and executive, or the character of George Washington into its components. Now definition and analysis often intermingle and help each other, and are often informally treated, but somehow, in every piece of exposition, the underlying thought must have a sound basis of one or the other or both. This will be the nucleus of the thinking; it may then be treated as a bald report or as an interpretation, aiming merely to give information or to rouse the further interest of the reader. The method of treatment will be determined by the nature of the facts and the purpose of the author in writing.
It cannot be too strongly stated that the underlying thought and the interest are really one, after all. approach a subject, and learn its character and meaning, you will be at the same time learning whether it is a subject capable of great appeal or only of slight attraction. Interest is not something laid on, but is a development from the nature of the facts themselves. The first question should be, “Is this interesting?" and then the second question may follow, “How shall I bring out the interest?” Remember that interest depends on relation to human beings; the closer the relation, the greater the interest.
Mr. Henry Labouchere, English statesman and for many years editor of Truth, had an ideal reaction to life, so far as interest is concerned. If, scanning the horizon for interest, he had bethought himself of the rather impolite advice of the Muse to Sir Philip Sidney, “Fool,' said my Muse to me, 'look in thine heart and write,'” he would have found, upon following the advice, a heart full of eager curiosity and readiness to be attracted to anything. The following account of one of his qualities, as related in his biography, is worth remembering when you feel like saying, “Oh, I don't see anything interesting in that!": "If he had encountered a burglar in his house already loaded with valuables, his first impulse would have been, not to call the police, but to engage the intruder in conversation, and to learn from him something of the habits of burglars, the latest and most scientific methods of burgling, the average profits of the business, and so forth. He would have been delighted to assist his new acquaintance with suggestions for his future guidance in his profession, and to point out to him how he might have avoided the mistake which had on this occasion led to his being caught in the act. In all this he would not by any means have lost sight of his property; on the contrary, the whole force of his intellect would have been surreptitiously occupied with the problem of recovering it with the least amount of inconvenience to his friend and himself. He would have maneuvered to bring off a deal. If by sweet reasonableness he could have persuaded the burglar to give up the 'swag,' he would have been delighted to hand him a sovereign or two, cheer him with refreshment, shake hands, and wish him better luck next time, and he would have related the whole story in the next week's Truth with infinite humor and profound satisfaction.”
To make clear, to explain, - that is the task of exposition. Such writing does not have the excitement of the fightingring, which we find in argument, nor does it attain the lyric
quality of impassioned description, or the keen wild flight of narrative. It keeps its feet on the earth, tells the truth
but tells it in such a way, with so much of reaction on the writer's part, and with so strong an appeal to the reader's curiosity or imagination or sympathy, that it is interesting, that it is always adequate, and may be powerful.
HOW TO WRITE EXPOSITION
ALL writing - except mere exercise and what the author intends for himself alone — is a problem in strategy. The successful author will always regard his writing as a problem of manipulation of material wisely chosen to accomplish an objective against the enemy. The enemy is the reader. He is armed with two terrible weapons, lack of interest and lack of comprehension. Sometimes one weapon is stronger than the other, but a wise author always has an eye for both. The strategic problem is, then, so to choose material, and so to order and express it, that the reader will be forced to become interested, to comprehend, to arrive, in other words, at the point in his feeling and thinking to which the author wishes to lead him. The author's objective is always an effect in the reader's mind. In so far as the author creates this effect he is successful. And the time to consider the effect, to make sure of its accomplishment, is before the pen touches the paper.
Sometimes the author makes a mistake in his planning, as did the composer Handel when he wrote the oratorio of “The Messiah.” He placed the "Hallelujah Chorus" at the end of the oratorio. But when, toward the end of the second section, he saw from his place on the stage that the audience was not so enthusiastic as he had expected it to be at that point, he changed his plan, with practical shrewdness rushed to the front and shifted the famous chorus from the end of the third section to the end of the second, and had the satisfaction of seeing the audience so moved that first the King rose, and then, of course, the audience with him. The chorus
has stood at the end of the second part to this day; that is the place for it - it brings about the effect that Handel desired much better there than if it were saved for the end of the oratorio. The oratorio is, in other words, a greater work than it would have been had not the author kept a keen eye for the audience, for the effect, and a willingness to change his plans whenever the gaining of the effect required a change. Just so the writer should constantly scan the horizon of the reader's mind for signs of interest and for shafts of intelligence.
The effect that the writer desires in the reader's mind may be of different natures. In Baedeker's Guide-Book the aim is largely to satisfy the understanding, to meet the reader's desire for compact information. In some of Poe's tales the effect is of horror. Patrick Henry aimed primarily to rouse to vigorous action. Shakespeare wished to shed light upon the great truths of existence, to satisfy the reader's groping curiosity, and also to thrill the reader with pity and terror or with high good humor or the unrestrained laughter of roaring delight.
In so far as the author accomplishes his purpose, in just so far he is successful. When friends complimented Cicero, telling him that he was the greatest orator, he replied somewhat as follows: “Not so, for when I give an oration in the Forum people say, 'How well he speaks!' but when Demosthenes addressed the people they rose and shouted, 'Come, let us up and fight the Macedonians!” If Cicero was correct in his estimate, Demosthenes was the greater orator of that there can be no doubt for he gained his effect. President Wilson's great war messages had as one of their objects, certainly, the rousing in American hearts of a high thrill to the lofty object for which they fought, the overcoming of might with right. The remarkable success of the messages attests the author's power.
Now the author will accomplish this effect in the reader's