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Focus on Descriptive Writing Paper 2 Writing to INFORM, EXPLAIN, DESCRIBE.

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Presentation on theme: "Focus on Descriptive Writing Paper 2 Writing to INFORM, EXPLAIN, DESCRIBE."— Presentation transcript:

1 Focus on Descriptive Writing Paper 2 Writing to INFORM, EXPLAIN, DESCRIBE

2 Descriptive choices 2002: Describe the room you are sitting in 2003: Describe a place you hate 2004: Describe a shopping centre when it is closed and when it is open 2005: Describe a nightmare world 2006: Describe yourself 2007: Describe your home

3 What’s wrong with the following? The lighthouse goes up into the sky. I can see its spotlight and I can hear it moving around. I can also hear the waves. They are moving back and forth on the shore. Sometimes the waves splash over me. I look again at the lighthouse in the distance.

4 Why is this better? The lighthouse soars up into the cold night air. The low grown of its rotating spotlight struggles like the moan of a wounded animal. Reluctantly, the waves retreat, sucked back into the darkness, then angrily return, pounding the foot of the mighty stone structure. The spray showers over me and my mouth fills with the cold taste of the sea. The lighthouse stands stern, a forbidding guardian of the shore.

5 Why is this writing so boring? It was a bitterly cold day. Everyone was in black. The cars were black too. There were people standing around in a group waiting for the coffin. Crows were flying in the sky. It was really eerie.

6 What makes this better? The Undertaker’s men were like crows, stiff and black, and the cars were black, lined up beside the path that led to the church. We too were black as we stood in our pathetic awkward group waiting for them to lift the coffin and shoulder it, and for the clergyman to arrange himself; he was another black crow in his long cloak. Suddenly the real crows rose cawing from the trees and fields, whirled up like scraps of blackened paper from a bonfire. How could the description above be improved?

7 2002: Describe the room you are sitting in The room I am in is a big hall in my school. It is full of people doing their English exam. Everyone is very quiet and trying to do their best. There are teachers walking up and down invigilating. I can see my friends concentrating. The room is quite warm. Because there are lots of people in it. Most people are wearing shirts because it is warm. There is some fresh air coming in from the window. The room I am in is the school hall. It has a stage at one end which is used for plays and things like that. We had a band here when we had the year 11 Christmas party.

8 How is this better? The room I am sitting in is full of silent people working on their English exam. Everyone’s face looks serious as they try to write as much as they can and not make any spelling mistakes. All the people I’ve known since year 7 are in this room as well as some I remember from primary school. We never thought in those days long ago that all these years at school would end up in a hall like this. We used to think real life was far away and never thought about how we would be judged on what we had learned over all that time. In the future we may remember this room as the place where the rest of our lives was decided. No wonder everyone around me looks serious.

9 What do you think of this one? The clock ticks, the teacher’s shoes shuffle and the desk in front of me squeaks as its occupant desperately tries to cram as many adjectives as possible into two and a half sides of lined paper. Outside, there is birdsong and the swaying of green leaves in the breeze. Cars pass by and people go about their business, oblivious to the fate of those imprisoned here. They pause to chat, they enjoy the day. Inside is something else. Imprisoned in silence, held by invisible chains to our desks, we slaves obey the orders of our master. Chief Geeseyessy rules here, and no one dares to rebel. Heads down, we do as his instructions order us. Today’s order is To Describe. So, dutifully, submissively, we, his underlings turn our attention away from Life outside to concentrate on our determined task.

10 What do you think of this one? You learn a lot about sex in an English GCSE exam. Well, perhaps I mean gender, not sex. I’m sitting in my GCSE English exam and, looking around, I can’t help noticing that most of the girls in the hall have some sort of lucky mascot on their desks. Some have purple haired trolls and others have little animal key ring attachments. The boys don’t have any good luck mascots. Why is this? Why do girls, even the bright ones who have been getting A* all year, feel they need good luck on their side? Is it because girls don’t believe in themselves? And why don’t boys need good luck charms? Is it because they think “I’m a bloke. I don’t need luck. I’ve got testosterone?” It seems to me that boys need good luck more than girls. Who is it who turns up to a writing exam and has to borrow a pen? Why is it that in an English exam where you need an Anthology, the only people who turn up without one are males?

11 What can learn from this? There is more to description than recording the visible. Organisation of ideas is as important in description as written expression. Contrast helps structure and language detail. Objects are more interesting when they are emblematic (e.g. good luck trolls represent…)

12 Strategies for describing places 1: Establish your writer’s mood e.g. I first saw x on a dull/bright morning/evening in… What struck me on that first sight was… 2: The zoom lens From a distance the place looks like… As you get nearer, you begin to notice… Close up, you realise that… 3: Misleading impressions Don’t be deceived when you first see… First impressions can be… What doesn’t hit you at first sight is…

13 Describe the room you are in: Don’t be deceived when you first see clothes on the floor, mouldy cups on the window and sheets of paper piled up on the work table. First impressions can be misleading and lead to ill- informed, inaccurate and sometimes hurtful conclusions. What doesn’t hit you at first sight is that there is a logic to the apparently random scattering of objects in this room, a purposeful arrangement based on my own life priorities. Similarly… However…

14 Small details make a big impression! It’s when the electrician comes that’s when the humiliation begins. For half an hour our family life is exposed to analytical gaze as the area underneath the washer is revealed. As the washing machine is pulled from the wall, there is a gasp, a horrified little scream and the beginning of a flurry of apology. As the top few inches of dust are swept away with embarrassed haste, a host of scaly, spiky insects scuttles from its exposed dwellings. At the front lie the colourful plastic magnetic letters from my pre-school days, that my brother used to form obscene statements to shock our visitors. Knocked off the fridge by careless shoulders, they have been kicked across the kitchen floor to find a refuge under the washer. Behind them lies the not–quite-so-yellow Post-It note whose sticky stripe has attached itself to a ball of unidentifiable muck, still telling of a long-forgotten meeting. Next, a small pile of paper streamers, slightly singed, from Christmas poppers three years ago, flaunts itself before embarrassed eyes before they are drawn to the next discovery.


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