Understanding Texts

Remember it!

Remember it!

  • The four key writing aspects are themes, characters, setting, and structure.
  • Themes are underlying ideas which appear throughout a piece of writing, such as love, power and racism.
  • Characters are the people about whom the author writes
  • Important characters will relate to the key themes of a story.
  • Remember to consider characters in depth, examining relationships between characters, how often they appear in the text, whether they are a protagonist or antagonist, why they are in the text and their character features which make up their identity.

For GCSE English Language, think about how the author describes characters.

  • Conflict is essential in creative writing. It is when two opposing forces struggle against each other. By overcoming conflict, or by failing to do so, characters develop.
  • There are two types of character conflict: internal (within the mind of the character) and external (between two characters).
  • From these conflicts, you can identify character contrasts. There are two main types of contrasts as with conflicts: internal and external.
  • Internal contrasts occur when a character changes an aspect of their identity, becoming the opposite of what they were initially. This could occur due to inner conflict as the character reacts to their setting and realises that they will have to adapt to survive or be happy.
  • External contrasts show two characters with the opposite personality trait. This allows for a comparison of them. This may create conflict between the two or it could create internal conflict for one character, causing them to want to change to be more like the other character.
  • The two key elements of a story’s setting are time and place.
  • Time and place can be identified through careful writing and description of culture, society, technology, values etc.
  • Pathetic Fallacy, or a Mental Landscape, is the use of the setting to reflect a character’s mood.
  • Skilful writers will use techniques to show the reader information rather than simply stating it outright.
  • Characters can be established through description of their appearance, their actions, what they say, how they react other what others say and through imagery and metaphor.
  • When analysing creative writing, use quotes to back up your arguments. Remember that writers do not always state something outright, you may need to infer it from actions, speech etc.
  • The AFOREST techniques are used in creative writing as well and can be commented on. However, resist the temptation to focus on the language rather than what it is telling us.
  • The general structure of a story is Exposition, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action then Denouement.
  • Structural techniques include the use of diary form and epistolary form.