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2 Tutorials that teach Modes
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Modes

Modes

Author: Sophia Tutorial
Description:

In this lesson, students will learn about the different modes of writing.

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Tutorial
This tutorial covers four different modes of writing: narrative, descriptive, informative, and argumentative:
  1. Narrative Mode
  2. Descriptive Mode
  3. Informative Mode
  4. Argumentative Mode
  5. Purpose


1. Narrative Mode

A mode is a way of describing the different approaches to writing that have different purposes. There are four main modes in writing—narrative, descriptive, informative, and argumentative. Each has its own particular purpose and features.

Narrative is writing that is driven by a story, so it tells what has happened, such as a story that's fictional or one that’s true. This might be a chance to reflect upon an event, which is when a writer is relating what the he or she gets out of an experience, or just maybe a way to tell an entertaining story about something funny that happened.

When would you use this mode? You will definitely use narration when you tell the story of a recent vacation, but you might also use it academically or professionally.

You’re writing a paper for a political science class and want to imagine how a potential policy change might influence the country. You might use the narrative mode. Description provides details concerning a specific person, place, or thing, so it’s used to add in details and really draw a clear and vivid picture. For that reason, it is likely that you would use the descriptive mode while telling a story in the narrative mode.

Narrative Mode
Writing that is driven by story


2. Descriptive Mode

Description provides details that zero in on a specific person, place, or thing. It’s used to draw a clear and vivid picture. As seen in the example above, it can be used along with narration for an academic paper or in your professional career.

How else might you use the descriptive mode?

In a business setting, you want to pitch a new product. Using the descriptive mode, you clearly describe its features and its use.

Descriptive Mode
Provides details concerning a specific person, place, or thing


3. Informative Mode

The informative mode is writing designed to inform, describe, or explain, so this is similar in some ways to narration and description and may use those modes. It’s also specifically intended to inform, which is when you’re giving the reader facts without offering an opinion about them. This mode is written with as little bias as possible. Your feelings about the facts cannot change whether or not they’re true.

You are writing a history paper, so you use the informative mode to inform your readers about past events. You cannot pick and choose which elements of the truth you’ll include.

Informative Mode
Writing designed to inform, describe, or explain
Informing
Gives the reader the facts without offering an opinion about them


4. Argumentative Mode

The argumentative mode takes a clear position on a debatable question and backs up claims with evidence and reasoning. This is where you present a thesis statement, or a clearly-stated main point, which takes a side on a debate and presents supporting evidence, logical arguments, and reasoning to back up that position.

Obviously, you’ll use this mode if you’re assigned an opinion or argumentative paper, but you likely already use this mode all the time.

Your friends want to go out for Chinese food but you’d rather have a burger, so you try to convince them to head out for burgers. When you do this, you’re in the argumentative mode.

Argumentative Mode
Takes a clear position on a debatable question and backs up claims with evidence and reasoning

5. Purpose

You should always have a purpose for each text, and that purpose will guide which mode you choose. The purpose of a text is its intended goal or value.

To better select the appropriate mode when writing, it’s important to practice identifying those modes. As you look at the following pieces of writing, think about what the purpose of each seems to be by examining the content. In addition, evaluate the tone of each piece, which is the writer’s attitude toward the subject as conveyed through a piece of writing.

Tone
A writer’s attitude toward the subject as conveyed through a piece of writing
Purpose
The intended goal or value of a text
IN CONTEXT

EVALUATING NARRATIVE MODE
Take a look at this piece of writing. Does this tell a story? Is there a logical sequence of events? If you can answer yes, then this is a narrative.


What do you think? You’ve got a chronological series of events, which is the usual order that events are presented in, so this is a narrative.
Do you think this writing is meant to reflect or entertain? Look for the author’s opinion on what the moral or lesson of these events are. Do you see that? “I am much happier” is an opinion and indicates that this isn’t just meant to be an entertaining story.

Reflecting
Generally relates what the writer “gets out of” an experience.

EVALUATING DESCRIPTIVE MODE
To see if this is descriptive, we need to ask if it provides vivid details about something in particular. If so, then you’ve got description.

So what do you think? You see sensory details such as “feels like she’s made of velvet,” and “click-click-click of her nails,” and “holding her in my lap, I always feel warm and loved.” These are some of the main features of a descriptive paragraph, so this is written in the descriptive mode.

EVALUATING INFORMATIVE MODE
To determine whether or not the writing below is informative, ask yourself if it offers information without appearing to be biased. If so, then it’s informative. However, if you see clear bias, you might be looking at argumentative mode.

File:1754-engfix5.PNG
Note that you see data presented here, but you don’t see the author offering a personal opinion on what this means. Therefore, this is written in the informative mode.

EVALUATING ARGUMENTATIVE MODE.
To figure out if the writing below is argumentative, ask yourself if it shows a debatable issue and if it takes a side. If so, then it’s definitely argumentative. Remember that when a text shows its bias (author’s personal opinion), it’s likely making an argument, whereas if it’s neutral, then it’s just informative. This is because the whole purpose of the argument is to convince readers of a particular perspective, so it can’t remain impartial.

File:306-arg.png
Do you see that bias happening here? The author moves from the facts presented in the last paragraph into a much more opinionated presentation of that data. You can clearly see that this author loves baseball, and the author focuses more on personal opinions than on facts. So this is definitely an argument.


Here is one more piece of writing. What mode do you think it’s in? Carefully look for tone, purpose, and authorial intent.

File:307-practice.png
What’s your verdict? All of these sentences are designed to serve this final argument—that everyone should have the chance to go to college. That is just one possible opinion on an issue about which many people debate. The purpose of the text is argument, so this is overall in the argumentative mode.
This tutorial examined four modes of writing—narrative, descriptive, informative, and argumentative—and discussed how each helps serve a particular purpose that the author needs to assess.

Remember, informative mode offers no opinion, and argumentative mode uses opinion and reasoning to convince readers of something. Narrative mode is more of a storytelling approach, and the descriptive mode zeros in on details about a person, place, or thing.
Terms to Know
Argumentative Mode

Takes a clear position on a debatable question and backs up claims with evidence and reasoning.

Descriptive Mode

Provides details concerning a specific person, place, or thing.

Informative Mode

Writing designed to inform, describe, or explain.

Informing

Gives the reader the facts without offering an opinion about them.

Narrative Mode

Writing that is driven by story.

Purpose

The intended goal or value of a text.

Reflecting

Generally relates what the writer "gets out of" an experience.

Tone

A writer's attitude toward the subject as conveyed through a piece of writing.