Article Index


The question of "how" directs us toward method and procedure, toward process. Readers might not understand the exact nature of the action or the various parts, steps, and stages that constitute a process. An essay on a family vacation might tell how the destination and modes of transporta­tion were chosen, how the reservations were made, how the trip was financed, how the car was packed, how seating arrangements were made, or how the tie­downs holding the roof rack worked loose. Or you might tell how you built a campfire, cleaned a fish, roasted corn, or packed home your trash. The point is that "how" probes large and small actions to reveal their inner dynamics.


Subtopics of How

What is the goal of this process?
How is success measured?
What is the importance of this process?
Is it primarily a natural or a mechanical process?
Is it primarily a mental or a physical process?
What experience or training is needed?
What preparations must be made?
What equipment is needed?
How does this equipment work?
What is the order of the steps or stages?
How important is this order?
How is each step performed?
What is the level of difficulty?
What is the importance of each step in relation to the whole?
What terminology must be understood
What are the characteristic pitfalls?
What does this process resemble?


As with the other questions, your thoroughness with this one will depend on your readers' needs and interests as well as your purposes in writing. How much do your readers want or need to know about the process of filling out an arrest report? How much do you want them to know? How will their hav­ing or not having this information affect the success of your writing? These are the kinds of questions you need to keep in mind when you work with the question of "how."