Introduction to Purpose
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Any time you are about to write something, the first question you should ask yourself is the following: “What do I want to accomplish with my writing?” Your answer to this basic question should determine everything you do. From the message you choose to share, to how you choose to share it and to whom.

The principle of purpose is so important to successful writing that it can actually be seen time and time again in our scriptures. Take, for example, the writings of the apostle John. Amongst his personal accounts of the Savior’s life in the Book of John, he sets aside time in his story to clearly state what his own purpose is in writing these experiences. In John 20:31 he states,

"But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that ye might have life through his name.”

Likewise, in the Book of Jacob, Jacob and his brother Joseph take the time to clearly state their purpose in Jacob 1:8 when they state:

“Wherefore, we would...that we could persuade all men [to] believe in Christ, and view his death, and suffer his cross and bear the shame of the world.”

Moroni also took the time to clearly state his purpose for writing in his final testimony to the world in Moroni 10:3–5 when he states the following:

“I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things...that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men from the time of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts. And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it to you, by the power of the Holy Ghost. And by the power of the Holy Ghost, ye shall know the truth of all things.”

Ponder and Record

As you review the above material, please consider the following questions and record your answers:

  • Why would these prophets of old take the time to clearly state their purpose in their writings?
  • What was each writer’s purpose for writing?
  • Generally would you say that each writer’s purpose was to simply inform his reader of something or to persuade the reader to do or think differently?

Writing can serve many purposes. In the personal area, writing tends to be reflective—its main purpose being individual learning and growth through pondering and exploration. In the professional and academic areas, however, writing tends to serve two basic purposes—the purpose of informing and the purpose of persuading. In this lesson, we will look at purpose within the context of informative writing.

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