An essential concept in mastering reading is understanding the why behind the words. What is the author trying to say? What is the motivation, the message, the intent of the literary work?
The reason why the author writes a particular piece of fiction or non-fiction is called the author’s purpose. Authors choose the genre, writing format, and language based on the author’s purpose. Therefore, a student cannot assume the purpose because the text falls in a specific genre category or because it’s a story and not a textbook.
What is authors purpose and how does the reader identify the author’s purpose?
The 5 Types of Author’s Purpose
What Does Persuasion Mean?
This is an extremely common form of writing where the author attempts to convince the reader to agree with them or for the reader to act in a specific way. Persuasive writing is easily recognized by a call to action in the text or the author sharing their opinion backed with facts, proof, and examples to help convince the reader.
Some Examples of Persuasion in Writing:
While it’s commonly found in non-fiction, many well-written fiction books are also attempting to persuade the reader.
- Propaganda pieces that influence people to think or act in a certain way
- Speeches that attempts to convince the reader to agree with the speaker’s opinion
- Advertisements that persuade a person to buy the product or service
- Commercial and news editorials that inform and persuade the reader
- The author’s purpose is in the motivation behind an essay.
- Fiction writing where the author has an agenda intentionally or unintentionally.
Clues To Look For Persuasive Purpose:
- Is the author attempting to convince the reader to take a specific action or believe something specific?
- Does the author make use of hyperbole?
- Does the author use forceful phrases?
- Does the author attack viewpoints that oppose theirs?
- Is the writing filled with imagery and graphics to extract specific types of emotions from the reader?
What Does Inform Mean?
When the author’s purpose is to inform, they write objectively and use facts. Although both informative writing and persuasive writing use facts, the goals are different. Persuasive writing uses facts to support an opinion; it’s part of the process to convince the reader and present itself as “informative.” Informative writing, however, uses facts to educate the reader about a certain topic. There is no hidden goal; the author presents informative facts to teach the reader and is not interested in convincing the reader to believe or act in a certain way.
Some Examples of Information in Writing:
Informative writing is generally found in non-fiction writing. Fiction may also present information throughout the text.
- School textbooks are written for the primary purpose of teaching students about a subject.
- Recipe books provide the ingredients and methods of how to cook a specific dish.
- Newspapers inform the public about current events and news happening locally, nationally, or internationally.
- Encyclopedias and dictionaries define, explain, and inform about a word or subject.
Clues To Look For Informative Purpose:
- Does the author use facts to inform and educate without wanting to persuade the reader?
- Is the content objective where the author does not give their opinion to convince the student in a specific way?
- Does the text contain hidden opinions that are not informative but persuasive?
- Did the reader learn something when reading the text?
What Does Entertain Mean?
The author’s purpose in fiction books is generally to entertain the reader. Non-fiction texts, however, may also be entertaining while informing the reader too. Fiction writers use fascinating characters, sharp dialogue, an exciting storyline, or an action-packed plot to keep readers interested and engaged. Readers may prefer reading genres that they find more enjoyable than others.
Some Examples of Entertainment in Writing:
Although entertainment in writing is generally found in fiction, non-fiction writers also may use storytelling to engage the reader and accentuate a point.
- Genre fiction authors write for readers who enjoy reading the type of stories typical to that genre. Readers could be picky with the genres they prefer. For example, science fiction readers may not find romance novels as entertaining, and romance lovers may not enjoy suspense that much.
- The author tells an entertaining story that the reader wants to read.
Clues To Look For Entertaining Purpose:
- Does the writer use techniques to keep the reader engaged?
- Do chapters end with cliffhangers or in such a way that all the questions aren’t answered entice the reader to read the next chapter to find out what happened next?
- Does the story or text contain humor, funny incidents, or characters telling jokes?
- Do action-packed scenes build on each other to increase suspense?
- Does the reader identify with a character or circumstances that invite them to read further?
What Does Explain Mean?
Authors write explanatory text when they want to bring across a particular method or process. The text contains explanations to help the reader understand how the process works or what the procedure requires to do, create, or complete something.
Some Examples of Explanation in Writing:
Authors who write to explain a topic generally write non-fiction books. An author may also explain a topic in a novel, for example, how a drone works, to better understand the situation or character better.
- How-to books explain to the reader how to do something or how something works.
- A book with recipes is a classic example of explaining a method to the reader. The reader follows the instructions to cook that specific dish.
- Step-by-step guides like DIY methods instruct the reader through each step by explaining what to do to complete that step.
- Companies may use procedural outlines in orientation or training outlining the steps and the order the actions should take place.
Clues To Look For Explaining Purpose:
- Does the writing contain a list of points in numbered or bullet format?
- Are there infographics, diagrams, or illustrations that reinforce the written explanation?
- Is the writing action orientated with lots of verbs that portray commands, orders, or instructions?
- Does the text focus on telling the reader how to do something?
What Does Describe Mean?
If describing is the author’s purpose, then the text may contain adjectives and images to illustrate something in detail. The writer may write with such detail that the reader experiences the imagery through their sense as if it were real.
Some Examples of Description in Writing:
Fiction authors use descriptions in their writing to engage and entertain the reader. Non-fiction may also use detailed reports expanding on a point.
- Novels and short stories contain descriptions to paint a picture drawing the reader into the story.
- Businesses use product descriptions to show potential customer what they will buy.
- Descriptive essays and other non-fiction writing use descriptions to help the reader understand the point, product, or service.
Clues To Look For Descriptive Purpose:
- Does the writer use adjectives to describe something?
- Does the author use language that appeals to the reader’s senses?