ANALYSING NON-FICTION

Remember it!

Remember it!

Non-fiction texts deal with facts and true accounts of events and situations.

  • Types of non-fiction include newspaper and magazine articles, internet opinion pieces, letters, biographies, travel writing, advertisements, charity appeals, leaflets, encyclopaedia entries etc.
  • Non-fiction always has a purpose and cannot be accepted at face value.
  • GAPS stands for genre, audience, purpose and style.
  • Purposes include: explain, inform, teach, persuade, opinion, entertain. You could remember these using this acronym: Everyone intends to pass our exam.
  • Presentational devices mean how the text is structured visually.
  • Types of presentational devices include: headings, sub-headings, font size and style, layout, colour, structure, quotations, logos and slogan, illustrations and photos, captions and charts and diagrams.
  • Presentational devices are used to make the text memorable, create a mood and for clarity.
  • The two main types of writing are simple language and descriptive language.
  • Writing techniques include adjectives, alliteration, facts, opinions, rhetorical questions, repetition, emotive language, statistics, threes, imagery, similes, metaphors, personal pronouns, discourse markers and hyperbole.
  • Texts are built up from ideas to exact words to sentences to paragraphs.
  • Content and structure are the two main things to consider when writing your English GCSE essay. Remember, a good structure will make your arguments clear and easy to navigate.
  • The four types of questions you may be asked in this exam are about finding information, analysing presentation devices, identifying inferred meaning and analysing writing techniques.

Analysing non-fiction (Structure)

Text Structure

This is the organisation of a text and cannot be underestimated. A good text structure will help the reader identify the key pieces of information more quickly. It is what readers rely on when they are unfamiliar with the topics. Text structure links with presentational devices because it is part of how the words are presented on the page.

Texts could be structured in chronological order, presenting a problem and a solution, cause and effect, compare and contrast or main idea and detail.

Here is how a text structure builds up:

Words

The author chooses the correct words to fit the genre, audience, purpose and style. Remember to identify whether they are formal or informal, simple or difficult and whether or not they are technical. Do not confuse formal and technical: a text could use technical vocabulary (Chemistry – diffusion, osmosis) and still be written in an informal style.

Sentences

Look at sentence length variation. Are the sentences all the same length? Are some short and some long? The author may vary the length for effect, using long sentences then adding a quick, attention-grabbing sentence which hits the reader full force.

Paragraphs

The sentences are ordered in paragraphs. Each will have a sub-message which forms part of the author’s overall argument. In the case of advertisements, paragraphs could be scattered and consist of only a small sentence or phrase. It will be up to you to analyse the message each paragraph aims to tell the reader. When you examine a text, look at paragraph length. Are they all the same? Is there one paragraph which is longer or shorter than the others? Is there a reason behind this?