Conveying Experiences, Events & Procedures in Writing

Instructor: Ginna Wilkerson

Virginia has a Master's degree in Curriculum and Development and a Ph.D. in English

Writing for various purposes requires various writing styles to be effective. This lesson will cover writing about experiences, events, and procedures.

What Is Your Goal?

As you can probably guess, the writing you do for different situations will vary according to what you need to accomplish. Are you trying to share an experience you had? Maybe you saw a spectacular sunset, or witnessed a touching moment between a mother and baby. Or maybe something crazy happened to you that people will find hard to believe!

But perhaps your goal is to report on an event, something important or relevant that you want to chronicle. Perhaps you were present at a political rally, and now you have an inside view of what really took place. Or maybe you were part of a rescue crew working at the aftermath of a natural disaster. This kind of reporting can be valuable and exciting to read.

A third kind of writing pertains to teaching someone how to do something via written communication. We sometimes call this process writing. As you can imagine, the writing style for telling someone how to bake a cake or ride a bike is quite different from other formats. And, of course, you have to know the procedure in detail before you can explain to your reader.

Sharing an Experience

When you write to share an experience, part of your goal is to allow the reader to see the scene as you saw it and to feel what you felt. Whether the scene was funny, scary, or sad, the emotions need to come through in your writing.

Let's say you went on a camping trip and were scared the entire time that a bear would come into your camp. In the middle of the night, you heard rustling and movement outside your tent. When you looked out in fear, there was the cutest bear cub ever!

Campground Visitor
baby bear

He was eating some of the cookies you brought, but no problem. He was so precious, you just had to watch as he ate. Unfortunately, Mama Bear showed up, and you quickly zipped up your tent flap and pretended to be asleep.

This story needs descriptive language, imagery, and sensory detail to be effective. Think of words that pertain to the five senses, and how the scene looked, felt, smelled, etc. Do everything you can in written form to bring your reader into the experience with you.

Reporting on an Event

When you report on an event you witnessed, there are some similarities in writing style with sharing an experience. Descriptive, sensory language is useful in making the event ''come alive'' for the reader. Let's say you are describing a shuttle launch you attended for the local newspaper. You want to use specific words that bring the detail of what you saw and heard to the reader--someone who missed the launch and wants to imagine what took place using your chronicle.

Shuttle Launch
space shuttle

So what is needed to report an event accurately besides descriptive language? Think about this for a moment. It is important for the reader to know in what order the parts of the event took place. Time order, or chronological order, is crucial to good reporting. Preparation, countdown, liftoff, the aftermath of the liftoff--all of these things happened in a certain order. And you need to communicate the order (and perhaps duration) of each part in your chronicle.

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