Note:  you can use any and all of these types of development within one essay.  It mostly depends on what information you have available.

F Facts: 

Of course, all your information MUST be factual.  After all, an essay isn't fiction.  But the F here means getting facts from other sources and using them to back up your thesis.  For example, your thesis is that people should conserve water.  You find facts in a newspaper article that describe the drought here.  According to the Albuquerque Journal, the total rain and snow New Mexico has received in the last five years doesn't add up to an average year's precipitation.

If you use information from somewhere that is not your own mind, make sure you identify where you got that information (whether you quote the information or not!)  See Dialogue in Essays for quotation information.  And go to this site if you're not sure about plagiarism.

What if you find a good fact that relates, but doesn’t exactly support your thesis?  You still can use it, making sure you show how it relates.  Refute it, or downplay its importance.  Information about 2006 being the wettest summer for so many years doesn't mean that people should use their water freely.  They still must realize that in a desert, water needs to be conserved.

For Essay #1, however, I don't want you to do research on what other sources say.  You still can use facts that you already know.  You may find your product works better than another because of the material it's made of, for example.  The material, or its structure, or the company that made it, is a fact.   The particular year that the rules changed in a certain sport is a fact you can use -- if it's one you already know.    


Reasoning.  Reasoning shows connections, what causes you to have your opinion.  You've decided something for some reason.  Explain your thought process.  When we got home and found our heavy punching bag smoldering, we thought perhaps some kids had set fire to it.  After all, the bag was hanging from a tree branch not far from our house and we have no real fence to keep people off our property.    

Here's another example of simple reasoning:   My brother has advised me on the purchase of my last three cars, which all turned out to be lemons.  So I'm not going to ask his advice this time when I buy a car.  I've decided I can do a better job on my own.

For an informative essay, like a product review, if an advertisement suggests your product is good for a certain effect, you can explain why it does or does not work for that.  Think logically.  Explain the logic.  The Whazit gadget claims to be self-cleaning.  The part that cleans it is a detachable arm that scrapes along the surface of the gadget each time you use it.  The problem is you then need to clean off the goop that accumulates on the arm.  Technically, it is self-cleaning, but detaching the arm, cleaning it, then reattaching it is more trouble than simply cleaning the gadget yourself.



Examples.  Try using examples to "show" the reader what you mean.  This is one of the best ways to help readers "see" the point you are trying to make.  Other odd events finally convinced us the kids hadn't set the fire.  Our TV had strange colors on it.  Then we noticed that a small transformer box for our invisible fence, a wire that is buried a few inches underground, was blown to pieces.  Even with a new transformer box, the fence still didn't work.  I traced the problem to where the fence passed nearby the tree the heavy bag used to hang on.  The wire underground was completely severed.  We figured lightening must have struck the bag, traveling down the chain the bag hung on, starting a fire in the bag itself, then passing to the fence, which it ripped apart.  Then the lightening must have zipped along the wire around the circumference of the fence, to the transformer box at the house, where it exploded, blowing out the transformer box and tripping the circuit breaker.  I'm just glad we weren't home when it happened.

Here's another example of an example:  My cat has irritating habits.  For example, she doesn't always like to use the litter box.  She sometimes prefer to use my Oriental rug instead.  She also likes to sharpen her claws on my couch, and she insists on taking cat naps in the large, decorative bowl on my dining room table.  The examples here "show" you some of my cat's "irritating habits."

Try to avoid simply listing examples within one sentence.  I like Mexican food such as burritos, chile rellenos, and green chile stew.  The purpose of the examples is to develop the ideas.  Just listing them doesn't show development.  Here's how you could do this in a better way.  I like Mexican food.  I like it when my mouth glows with the energy of spicy green chile.  The cheese inside the chiles of chile rellenos goes well with the egg batter wrapped around the chiles and cooked, and, on top, even more cheese -- all melted in a gooey coating -- contrasts with the spiciness of the chiles.   

Another of my favorites is burritos, which you can get with almost anything in them -- beans, of course, and cheese.  But you can also add shredded beef with potatoes, or bacon and eggs. . . .

If you say a product breaks after fifteen minutes of use, you can use an anecdote as an example, describing how you tried it out and it broke.  Or if in your description of the product, you say there's a wide variety of colors you can choose from, give some examples of those colors:  chartreuse, teal, apricot.  (Here's where you wouldn't need to develop the colors.)

(Of course, these examples also tend to explain our reasoning and they are facts, as well!  There's also an anecdote in my first example.)


Statistics.  Often people find statistics make their thesis work.  Using numbers is a nice way to prove your point.  Personally, however, I don't trust statistics.  You never know how these numbers have been arrived at, if the study is reliable or not.   So you can use statistics but add other types of development, as well.

Usually statistics take the form of percentages.  Ninety percent of statistics is made up on the spot.  If not, they may show a ratio.  Nine out of ten dentists prefer this toothpaste. 

If you have precise statistics, you must cite a source (that means say who you got them from).  The two statistics I mentioned above were made up, and thus, ones I don't have a source for.  That is very suspect.  Even if you have a head for numbers and you do remember the particular statistics, you still need to have some sort of idea of where you got those numbers.  The sources influence the reliability of the statistics.  According to the NM Motor Vehicle Department, over 30 percent of traffic accidents involve "driver distraction," is much stronger than According to Citizens Against Cell Phones, over 30 percent of traffic accidents involve "driver distraction."   

For essay #1, statistics will be hard for you to use since I don't want you to do any research.  But you can use apparent or general statistics.  It seems that half the people I know are on the Atkins Diet.  Or the ad says that most doctors prescribe this medicine.


 Compare/contrast.   Have you made a comparison -- showing how one thing is like another -- in your essay?  Have you ever tried talking on the phone while watching a TV show?  Do you find that you lose track of what's happening on the tube?  That's what happens when you talk on a cell phone while driving.  Here I've tried to compare talking while watching TV with talking while driving.  I've tried to show how these two activities are similar to each other.  Comparison is especially useful if your readers may not have had an experience that would make them "insiders" on a particular issue.  If you can explain how one experience is similar to another, then readers may gain some insight into the experience they haven't had.

Here's another example:  Waiting until you're thirsty to drink some water is like waiting until the oil light comes on in your car before you put any oil in.  There's already damage being caused to your car at that point.  Because at a certain level of dehydration, your body loses its ability to tell when you need water, you have to drink water before you're thirsty.

For Essay #1, you will use this method.  What do you compare?  Well, that depends on the product and what aspects of the product you care about.  You may compare how much you get in a package, or how long it will last, or how healthy it is with another product.  If you are writing about a sport, you can compare it with other, similar, sports. 


Anecdotes: An anecdote is a brief story.  Have you used any very short stories taken from your personal experience to back up your thesis?  Here's an example of how to use an anecdote:  The reason I oppose the use of cell phones while driving is because I was in an accident that was the result of using my cell phone.  I was driving home from school, and I decided to make a quick call to my girlfriend.  We got into an argument over nothing. . . etc.

What's nice about anecdotes is while people can argue that your facts aren't accurate and your statistics are skewed, they can't deny that what happened to you happened.  In addition, we humans love stories.  They are easier to read than other kinds of writing (expository -- think textbook writing), more fun, and more interesting.  Finally, stories are the kind of support you have at hand, without needing to research.  You have your opinion probably because of something that happened to you or a friend.  Tell that story.  Don't forget to liven it up even more with dialogue

Tell stories about your experiences with this product and maybe its competitors.  Tell about your friends or relatives that used it and what they said.

  This information comes from a University of Massachusetts website:  Some examples come from Nancy King's site:  
  This page last updated by Connie Gulick, Tuesday, May 18, 2010.