Analysing Non-Fiction

Purpose

Purpose

gcse english languageEvery piece of writing is created with a purpose, be it to inform the audience about a new product, persuade them to go to a gig or to entertain them. The purpose of the text is what it wants the audience to do. This could be spending money or understanding something has happened.

By understanding that there is a purpose behind every text, you can immediately identify it by examining the information given, language used and layout.

Purposes include:

Explain

gcse english languageThis involves stating information and going into detail about what it means and how it will affect people. For example, London will host the 2012 Olympics. An article explaining this would write that this means London is providing the venues for the Olympics, as well as putting on an opening ceremony and providing other welcoming and entertaining actions. The article might continue to explain how the Olympics will affect tourism or traffic.

Inform

This means providing people with information. For example, during the summer, some doctor surgeries have leaflets about Sun care and how to deal with sunburn. The purpose is to let people know about the dangers of being in the sun and to give them information about how to deal with the aftereffects. Rather than persuading people outright not to go into the sun, it tells them how to protect themselves against it.

Teaching

Some texts aim to teach their audience how to do things. Cookery books are an example of this. Others include the instruction manuals which come with certain products.

Persuade

This purpose links with expressing opinions. Often, texts will inform you about events, products, debates etc. However, many of them will aim to convince you to do something or think in a certain way, using persuasive techniques. They can also use more information to support one side of an argument. Examples of persuasive texts include advertisements, which use language and layout to grab your attention and present their product in an attractive way to make you buy it.

Careful: Newspapers often use persuasive writing. Some of them give you information about a news story but have an underlying (hidden) bias, meaning that they want you to support a certain side of the argument.

Opinion

gcse english languageThe purpose of some texts is to express an opinion. This means the author gives their view on an event or product. Film reviews are an example of this type of purpose. The author decides whether a film is good or bad and expresses their opinion. There is a crossover of purposes: a film review will give information about the film and sometimes try and persuade the audience to see that film. It will be up to you to decide on the primary purpose of a text. Opinion pieces use facts and give examples so the author can back themselves up.

Entertain

gcse english languageThis is generally the primary purpose of fiction: to engage the audience and give them enjoyment. This comes in the form of stress relief through comedy and escapism. However, some non-fiction can also be written with this purpose. A magazine could print a travel review in which the author writes about a holiday from hell, using engaging and humorous language. The author may exaggerate to make the audience more engaged and amused. Another travel article could be describing trip to a perfect holiday destination. The language could create the scene in the audience’s mind and help them imagine themselves there. This is a form of entertainment.