LESSON 5.12
Write What/Why Statement

Let’s begin with a quiz. It will serve as a review before we work on an essential skill: writing the What/Why Statement.

Task 5.12.1 – Tandem

Answer the following without using notes or the Net:

  1. How many sentences are in a What Statement?
  2. How many variables are in a What Statement?
  3. At least one variable, or their relationship, must be ________.
  4. What image does the What Statement look like?
  5. The Why Statement tells us the What Statement is _________ or ______________.
  6. Which answer in #6 are we working with in this chapter?
  7. What is the maximum number of Ys in a Why Statement?
  8. What is the minimum?
  9. How many sentences are usually in a What/Why Statement?
  10. What is a tautology?

Writing the What Statement

The What Statement is usually one sentence long. In most cases it is a short sentence.

What/Why Statement

What Statement

Why Statement

LH variable

Verb phrase

RH variable

because

Y

Childhood polio

could not keep

Wilma Rudolph from becoming America’s first great female sprinter.

 

 

Wilma Rudolph

Sometimes the variables and verb phrase will be in a different order.  The following What Statement, for example, is variable-variable-verb phrase instead of variable-verb phrase-variable.

What/Why Statement

What Statement

LH variable

Verb phrase

RH variable

No one had broken the fabled two-hour limit in the modern marathon,

until Eliud Kipchoge

came along.

Splitting a Variable

A variable often is split into two parts.

Florence Baker

Task 5.12.3 – Tandem or Small Group

Write down the What Statement you constructed in Lesson 5.8.

Writing the Why Statement

By now, you should have determined what your Why Section will be about. The Why Statement summarizes that idea.  Keep the Ys short and precise. 

Do not start with because.  Usually start it with—

  • That is important because …
    or
  • (The new variable or its pronoun) is important because …

Repeat the Word because If—

  • The Ys are complicated
    or
  • A shorter Y goes after a longer one

What/Why
Statement

What Statement

Why Statement

LH variable

Verb phrase

RH variable

Because

Y1

And because

Y2

Racism against Native American runners

could not stop

 

Billy Mills from being the first American to win the gold
medal in the 10,000 meters.

That is especially important because

he was able to help under-privileged Native American communities

 

and because

he inspired generations of Native American runners.

Billy Mills

Review: Tautology

Do not let the Y or Ys define, describe, or otherwise repeat anything in the What Statement.

Avoid Platitudes

Platitudes are statements everyone knows is true:

  • Take time to smell the roses
  • A penny saved is a penny earned
  • Don’t cry over spilled milk
  • Treat others as we would like others to treat us

Platitudes are boring, and they treat readers as children. 

What/Why Statement

What Statement

Why Statement

LH variable

Verb phrase

RH variable

because

Y1

Racism against Native American runners

could not stop

 

Billy Mills from being the first American to win the gold medal in the 10,000 meters.

That is especially important because

we should all fight racism.

Task 5.12.3 – Tandem or Small Group

Create a Why Statement.

What/Why Statements and Introductions

The introduction to your Nonfiction without Narrator (NWON) is complete!

We do not need to “get the reader interested.” 

Subject, not style, creates reader interest. You can have an incredible style, but if readers are not interested in the subject, then there is rarely nothing you can do to make them interested.

If, however, your subject is likely interesting to your intended audience, then just introduce it and tell why it is true or important. That takes only two sentences!

Long introductions blur your focus as a writer. The result almost always will be an unorganized essay.