Reading non fiction text 4

English Language > Reading > Reading non-fiction text

The question on comparing writing techniques

There are three steps to answering this question.

  • You need to identify writing techniques used in a text.
  • You need to say what effects these techniques have - why are they used?
  • You then need to do the same for another text, saying which techniques and effects are similar and which ones are different.

This means in your answer you will have to write at least four paragraphs describing:

  1. which writing techniques are used
  2. why these techniques are used
  3. how these are similar or different from writing techniques from another text
  4. why these similar or different writing techniques are used in the other text

Your marks will be spread evenly across these four sections.

Identifying writing techniques

The 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:

  • 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?

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