A painting of mountains and the sky using primary colors

Source: Alexej von Jawlensky – Einsamkeit, Alexej von Jawlensky, Wikimedia

Now that you know to vary your sentence structures, we can move on to adding rhetorical devices. Adding these is like adding secondary colors to your palette. Secondary colors such as orange, green, and purple are the ones you get by mixing primary colors. 

Rhetorical devices are techniques an author or speaker uses to influence or persuade an audience. These devices make your expository and procedural essays memorable and powerful. Let’s begin with three that you can use right away in your expository writing: analogy, anecdote, and imagery. Read the explanation for each of these rhetorical devices, and then click to see an example.

icon for an interactive exercise
A photograph of an open tool kit featuring basic tools

Source: 20060513 toolbox, cclasa2.5, Wikimedia

These devices are like tools in your writer’s toolbox, ready to be pulled out and used whenever you want to build a more effective expository or procedural essay.

Let’s begin by identifying examples of these three types of rhetorical devices from an expository essay about building a birdhouse.

icon for an interactive exercise

take notes icon Now, practice writing an example of your own. Open your notes and, using the procedural essay topic of how to bake a cake, write a paragraph that includes an analogy, an anecdote, and an example of imagery. When you are finished, check your understanding to see a possible response.

Check Your Understanding
Sample Response:
When my mother’s birthday was coming up, I decided to make her favorite kind of birthday cake from scratch as my gift to her (anecdote). The whole process for me was a bit like building a tall house out of blocks because every step had to be done in the correct order, starting with the base of the cake and finishing with the frosting on top (analogy). I began to feel successful when I smelled the sweet, luscious scent of chocolate as the cake baked (imagery). My mom was so happy that I plan to bake her birthday cake every year.

A photograph a birthday cake designed for a person's mother. It has elaborates scrolling and flowers on it that are made of icing.

Source: Mother’s Birthday Cake, camknows, Flickr

As you can see, using rhetorical devices in your writing makes your expository and procedural essays lively, interesting, and easy to relate to for your reader. Just think about adding the secondary colors—orange, green, and purple—when you create these kinds of essays.