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Determining the purpose of your writing

Determining the purpose of your writing

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Summary

Determining the purpose of your writing

​In a nutshell

When you write, the first question you should ask yourself is, "Why are you writing?" Often, the four core purposes of writing are entertainment, information, persuasion, and the expression of feelings. The purpose changes how you write, with language devices and tone being used accordingly to best match the purpose.



Determining the purpose

It is useful to think about the following things before you start writing:

  • What do you want your writing to do?
  • How do you want your reader to feel?
  • Why do you want to write?


These are the most common classifications of texts although some may have multiple purposes. In fact, in a lot of persuasive work, they also have the aim of entertaining in order to push their agenda more effectively. The purpose of the text changes the way the author approaches a text.


To entertain

A text whose purpose is to entertain should do just that - grab the reader's attention and keep them hooked. When entertainment is the goal, writers often choose to form their work as stories, poems or play scripts. 


To inform

Rather than entertaining or persuading its readers, informative writing explains and educates; this is also known as 'expository writing.' This purpose is usually found in essays, encyclopaedia entries, instruction manuals, news reports and research papers.

 

To persuade

When a text's purpose is to persuade, it means the writer is trying to make the reader take a particular stance or opinion and will often implement rhetorical devices. Some examples are editorials, literary essays, music and film reviews and advertisements.

 

To express feelings

Sometimes the purpose of a text is to express the feelings and emotions of the author. This is seen a lot in diary entries, journals, poetry and even songwriting.




Purpose

What the writing may include

Example

To entertain
  • Humour
  • Description 
  • Action
  • Strong narrative
"Titanic" screenplay written by James Cameron. 
To inform
  • Informative and well-detailed for better understanding
  • Second-person instruction
  • Presents an unbiased version of the facts
  • Imperative language
The "Oxford Dictionary" will include definitions that aim to inform.
To persuade
  • Strong subject knowledge
  • logical thinking 
  • Rhetorical devices
A fashion editorial for "Vogue" will aim to persuade.
To express feelings
  • Personal and emotional events
  • First-person writing
  • Emotional release
"The Diary of Anne Frank" is a diary that Anne used to express her own feelings.


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FAQs - Frequently Asked Questions

What is informative writing?

What is the purpose of writing?

What should I do when writing?