Writing prompts are keywords or phrases that professors commonly use to ask or require their students to write. Teachers usually use various sets of writing prompts for the major types of writing they want their students to accomplish. The four major types of written work are persuasive, expository, narrative and literary response. Therefore for each of these four types of writing, there are suggested writing prompts in order to prod the students to write.
The first type of writing is the persuasive type of writing. In this case, the students are asked to argue a point. The teacher can make use of controversial ideas and other trendy ideas, and put them into their prompts. An example would be: “Research shows that the average person watches as much as six hours of television every day. Do you think this is too much? Write an essay convincing your readers to spend less time watching TV every day.” In this case, a point is presented, and the view that is to be argued on and supported is also presented. Therefore the student can take off from this juncture.
The second type of writing is the expository kind. In this type of writing, a student is asked to explain a point or a situation. An example of a writing prompt to elicit this kind of writing is: “Describe a family celebration that has deep meaning for you”. Thus the student in this case is asked to look and reflect in the family celebrations that he or she has had over the years, and select one that is special, and talk about it to the readers or the audience.
The third type of writing is the narrative type. In this type, students are asked to enumerate a series of events or their own personal story, or even the stories of other individuals. A writing prompt for this type of writing could be: “Sometimes lies have serious consequences. Describe a time when a lie had a major or serious consequence for you”. In this case, the student therefore required to seriously think about the times that he told a lie, and to analyze the situation and talk about what the consequences of this act had been.
Finally, there is the literary response type of writing. The student is asked to make comments on a literary piece that he has read based on certain requirements. An example of a writing prompt for this case would be: “The setting in a novel is where the action takes place. Explain how the setting complements the story in a novel you just read”. The student is therefore prompted to think about a piece that he just read and associate the piece’s setting with the overall effects of the novel itself.
There are millions of possible writing prompts depending on the type of output required by a teacher. What is definitely needed is that the prompt should be specific, with the exact instructions clearly stated therein.
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