Writing Texts

Identifying Writing Techniques

Identifying Writing Techniques

english languageThe question is similar to question 2, but instead of identifying presentational devices, you will be identifying and comparing writing techniques. You therefore need to know what writing techniques to look for and why each of them is used. Different techniques will be used to appeal to different audiences or meet different purposes.

These are the techniques you should be able to identify for your English GCSE:

  • Words: are they simple or difficult, formal or informal?
  • Sentences: are they short or long?
  • Paragraphs: are they short or long? Are they all the same length, or do some stand out for emphasis or dramatic effect?
  • Personal pronouns: does the text use the personal pronoun ‘you’ or ‘we’ to address the reader? Using ‘we’ is a technique the text could use to create a close personal relationship.
  • Persuasive techniques: does the writer use rhetorical questions (eg “Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be a billionaire?”), groups of three (eg “The good, the bad and the ugly…”) or alliteration (eg “sizzling sunshine”)? These can all be used to persuade the reader to feel a certain way about something.
  • Discourse markers: does the writer use casual, chatty discourse markers (eg “anyway, you know what I mean, so”) or more formal ones (eg “nevertheless, therefore, however”)?
  • Emotive vocabulary: are the words colourful (eg “extraordinary, teeming, resplendent”) or plain (eg “good, full of, organised”).
  • Exclamations: does the writing sound angry and argumentative (eg “This must stop…” or “We must think again…”) or is the writing more thoughtful (eg “probably, it might be, on the other hand”).
  • Facts and opinions: does the text use lots of facts and statistics or are there more opinions? Is the text intended to inform or to persuade, review and entertain?

What methods are used:

english language

  • They use language that sounds convincing – this is called rhetorical language.
  • They use language that affects your emotions – this is called emotive language.
  • The use of the personal pronoun ‘you’ is called the direct address pronoun: it can be used to add a personal touch and engages the reader; it sounds friendly, inviting and even confiding (e.g. ‘Have faith in us; you just know it makes sense’).
  • When used as an inclusive pronoun, ‘we’ can make the reader seem to be a part of a special group of people (e.g. ‘We’re all in this together, aren’t we?’) ; as an exclusive pronoun it can separate groups of people (e.g. ‘We’re working for a better world. Will you help?’).
  • The use of interesting, short anecdotes adds interest and engages the reader’s attention (e.g. ‘Let me tell you about John, a poor beggar in Ethiopia…’)..
  • The use of hyperbole can create a persuasive impact (e.g. ‘This earth-shattering event will blow your mind away!’).
  • Description creates imagery that can be very engaging and involving, even persuasive. It can be made very vivid and used to create mood and emotion (e.g. ‘Like a sliver of shiny steel, the white crescent moon cut a gash in the heavens’). Look for the use of effective metaphors, similes and emotive language.
  • Facts and opinions are used to support a writer’s point of view or argument but you must be able to separate worthwhile from biased facts and facts from factually stated opinions, always recognising how reasonable and effective the evidence really is.
  • Rhetorical questions imply their own answer engage and help to persuade the reader. They help make a point in a more powerful and emotional way.
  • Repetition and lists of three can be effective persuasive devices.
  • Personal viewpoint or ‘direct address’ (when I… / We… speaks to you… ) can create a friendly tone and involve the reader.
  • Structure allows an effective build up of a persuasive series of points.
  • Tone – a formal tone can add authority and sound authentic or sincere; an informal, or even conversational tone can add warmth and fun – it can be very persuasive, too.
  • Quotations and evidence from expert sources are used to provide support and create added authority.
  • Sentence style can be varied to add interest – and a very short sentence can add real impact. Can’t it?
  • Captions add meaning and guide the reader to respond in a certain way to an illustration or a photograph.

How to prepare

  1. know how to define non-fiction texts
  2. know how to identify the purpose and audience of the exam texts
  3. show you understand what the writers of each text are trying to say
  4. show you understand how the writers use presentational features
  5. be able to compare the way the writers use language to meet their intended purposes and audiences