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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Writing to analyse, review and comment

As well as analysing texts, you need to be able to write about them successfully. Think about your audience, the genre of your text and the main point of your analysis. By staying focused you will write more effectively.

Essential tips for writing effective articles

Capture your reader’s eye and attention

  • Start with a catchy headline.
  • Consider adding an attractive, unusual or interesting image to your coursework. For exam writing use boxes containing a written description of the image – there is no need to be an artist!
  • Divide a longer article using sub-headings to guide your reader and add interest and clarity.

Start as you mean to go on

  • Use a short or intriguing, lively and involving opening sentence.
  • Directly address and involve the reader by using pronouns such as 'you', 'we' and 'our'.
  • Consider the use of an initial question.

Prioritise important information but keep it interesting

  • Work out what is important and interesting for your reader to know first and write about this in a concise, snappy way. Leave less important aspects and finer detail until later.
  • Give relevant facts immediately by briefly answering questions such as what, who, where and when?
  • Use a mix of shorter and longer sentences but always keep sentences clear and concise.
  • Use mainly formal standard English but consider using a little well-placed conversational language to develop a friendly and inviting tone.
  • Open each paragraph with a topic sentence that tells, in a nutshell, what the rest of the paragraph will explore in more depth.
  • Use both direct and rhetorical questions to involve the reader.
  • Use discourse markers to help create flow and fluency, for example, 'clearly', 'even so', 'therefore', 'following on from this'.

Gain your reader’s trust - be authoritative and convincing

  • Be sincere and write in a natural, lively style. Avoid pretending you’re someone other than an interesting lively teenager.
  • Remember that if your writing doesn't capture the trust of your reader, it won't be effective.
  • Create a confident tone but avoid the kind of bold unsupported assertions that suggest arrogance. Words like 'could', 'might' and 'perhaps' help to keep your suggestions open.
  • Consider making up an interview with an expert to add authority. (Although this is made up it needs to be believable and entirely realistic).
  • Would the use of evidence from authoritative sources help the sense of trust? Your sources will also be made up but sound believable and realistic.
  • Keeping the needs of your audience in mind at all times, vary your vocabulary and include appropriate technical terms. (This is a mark scheme requirement for this piece of coursework.)
  • Avoid the trap of being overly personal or emotional. In the real world an article would have a wide, unknown audience so you wouldn't know your readers and they wouldn't know you. This means you must write in a way that you yourself would appreciate as a reader. Be calm, polite, mainly formal but friendly and, above all, be yourself!
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