Saturday, November 15, 2014

Writing Lessons for Students: Part One -- Pre-Writing Episode 4: Your Writing Purpose Techniques Continued

INFORM - EXPLAIN - DESCRIBE

Remember, to achieve these purposes you need to give more details.

You might INFORM someone (perhaps your teacher, or your avid blog fans) about some new information or research results you have recently learned.

To INFORM, you must
  • Write clearly and distinctly.
  • Address the reader directly.
  • Plan a logical order for your ideas.
  • Write well-structured paragraphs (i.e. PEE) and link paragraphs together (Okay, okay, make that PEEL)

You  might EXPLAIN some new concept or idea or plan to your readers.  You'd find some writing like this on websites like "howstuffworks.com"

To EXPLAIN, you must:
  • Write clearly and distinctly.
  • Show or demonstrate.
  • Develop detail to support your points.
  • Use examples to illustrate your points.
  • Pay attention to order -- step-by-step is usually logical.
  • Arrange paragraphs sensibly.


You might DESCRIBE something really interesting to someone who is not familiar with it.  DESCRIBE is one of the typical purposes on the IGCSE exams.  Read Nerdvark's descriptive writing here.

To DESCRIBE, remember you are not writing a story, but you could imagine you are writing a descriptive passage from a longer story if it makes it easier. 
Imagine you are sitting in one location and observing everything that goes on around you for a limited period of time, or walking slowly through and observing everything that you pass.

Use imagery, which can include vivid verbs and adjectives, and original figurative language

Pay attention to all five senses.  What can you see? Hear? Smell? Feel? Taste?


Click here to read some really descriptive passages on litter boxes and other topics of interest to cats


ANALYZE -- COMMENT -- REVIEW

These are harder because they require higher-level thinking skills, such as analytic thinking (obviously!), and evaluation.

You are often asked to ANALYZE on a long-answer test.  Analyze the character of Huck Finn.  Analyze the relationship between Othello and Desdemona.  Analyze the writer's use of diction to create atmosphere.  Analyze the structure of DNA.

To ANALYZE, think in terms of how? why? what is the effect?

  • Usually use the present tense, unless analyzing an author's technique
  • Usually third person, as this is more academic and less personal
  • Use evaluative vocabulary: This character is 'involving'; this story is 'engaging'


You may get more personal when you COMMENT.  This is your reaction or response to something. Many blogs are the writer's reaction or commentary on their life and experiences.  Check out the most popular blog in the world today, The Huffington Post.  

To COMMENT, you should give some background information followed by your own opinion.
  • Use some of the same techniques as for "REVIEW" (next)
  • Include your judgment -- effective or not and why?
  • May use phrases like "I expected" or "I was disappointed" or "It impressed me that..."


Finally, you REVIEW to share your opinion about something someone else has produced, such as a movie, book, song, album, video game, app, etc.

To REVIEW, you should show the strengths and weaknesses of something.   Your opinion, if well backed up, could help others make a decision.  This might be a good career for you if you enjoy, for example, playing video games and writing.  Just look at all the review websites out there, such as PC Gamer, which just happens to be Nardvark's favourite.


If you're more of a movie buff, read Kitty Meowvie Reviews on the Spot the Kitty blog!

Again, you're using higher-level thinking skills: analyze, give evidence, judge.

  • Pros use third person.  It is less personal.  Nobody cares what Nardvark thinks, but if he writes something that appears to apply to everyone, they might listen.
  • Use valid connectives to show how your ideas connect together: "as a result; however; consequently; therefore; although"
  • We review things that can be read/played/watched/done again and again, so usually use present tense.