1. We write a “definition paper” to explain a concept that is more abstract and vague. In other words, our purpose is to make that abstraction more concrete, more “down to earth,” so we can relate to it in everyday language. We do that by combining the other patterns we have studied so far: cause and/or effect, comparison/contrast, exemplification, division and classification, process analysis, and narration.
For example, the documentary on stress that we watched uses all of those patterns to thoroughly define the concept of “stress,” to explain it in every way possible so we can understand why we should care about it.
As another example, a writer who wishes to define his or her ideas about “success” might first divide that broad concept into separate categories like “relationship success,” “professional success” and “academic success.” Then, the essay could establish the criteria for each category and provide specific examples.
Taking the documentary as your model, choose one of the following abstract concepts and define it so your reader can relate to it in a meaningful and personal way:
Water Pollution, Air Pollution, Early Childhood Education, Discrimination, Prison Reform, Addiction (any kind), Poverty, Anger, Loneliness, Happiness, Friendship, Exercise, Meditation, Depression (or another mental illness).