Figures of Speech in Expository Writing

When you write to explain something, your goal is to be clear, not necessarily beautiful or picturesque. Some figures of speech are so common we don’t think of them as such; see the use of “window” in the sentence below. But how about the word “born”?

Because the cesium-rich particles were born early in the meltdown, they offer scientists an important window into the exact sequence of events in the disaster.

Being born is normally a biological term. Might be a little better to have said “…particles were created,” eh? Or how about getting rid of the passive while we’re at it, and say that the particles formed early in the meltdown?

Not as distracting now, is it?

Rule of thumb: The more technical you are, the less poetic you should be.

Here’s a photo of the event:

The Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power plant after a massive earthquake and subsequent tsunami on March 14, 2011 in Futaba, Japan. Credit: Getty Images