Why Authors Write–According to Certain 10th Graders

Understanding an author’s purpose—why writers write—is one of the many things students are taught in middle school and high school. The CAPT, taken in 10thgrade, has lots of questions related to author’s purpose. So, instead of asking students to identify the metaphor in paragraph 2, the test may ask, “Why did the author include this metaphor in paragraph 2?”

When teaching author’s purpose, I start with these trusty reasons: to describe, to explain, to persuade, to entertain. These cover many types of writing: poetry, anything expository, advertisements, editorials, and narrative fiction.

On a test, of course, you have to give students some leeway and partial credit (at least I do) if they don’t remember them exactly, but they get the gist. For example, if the student lists “to get his point across” or “to convince others to agree with her,” I’ll take it.

Then, there are answers that make you think, scratch your head, or laugh out loud.

Question: Why does an author write? Think about the reasons we covered when talking about author’s purpose.

Answer #1: Free speech.

So, yes, we have freedom of speech and freedom of the press in the U.S. So, is this student saying an author writes because she can? Maybe. In some countries, journalists and other writers are killed because of their work. Had the student tried to convince me this is what he meant, I might have given him partial credit.

Answer #2: Their own amusement.

Love this one! When I first read this, I envisioned an author chucking aside a bad review, declaring, “I write to amuse myself. Reader be damned.” Then, I thought, this is true. I’m sure most, if not all, writers enjoy it. We write because we like to, so I guess that is for our own amusement.

Answer #3: To make money.

Yes, of course. Alas, according to all of the blogs I’ve been reading most authors will not get rich. Most will be like the musician who plays out for extra money but keeps his day job. Still, even this type of writer makes some money, so I would agree many of us write with the hope of earning some cash.

Answer #4: Bad to good or vis versu

????? I have no idea what’s going on here. No credit.

Answer #5: To help people fall asleep.

HA!! Love it!! Reading, especially at night after a long day, may lead to closed eyelids and well-deserved rest, but I doubt that was the author’s purpose. “I write so that I can put you to sleep.” Wait a minute…unless, of course, it’s a self-hypnosis type of book or a guided meditation audiobook. Hmmm….maybe this student has a point.


If you’re a writer, tell me, why do you write?

One comment

  • Hi Cindy, I write because I get tried of saying the same thing over and over to different people and its gets boring telling the same story more than a couple of times. Its much easier to write it once then direct everyone to that spot for the answer. Plus, I usually forget what I say moments after LOL!

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