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Non-fiction texts are those that deal with facts, opinions and the real world. Many non-fiction texts follow specific conventions of language and structure.
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Writing an article
An example of how to structure and write an effective article
Here are a few places where you might expect to find an article:
- certain sections of a newspaper ( NB an article is different to a news report )
An article is a piece of writing (usually around 800-2000 words) about a particular topic. Sometimes an article will offer a balanced view of a subject. At other times an article might be biased towards a person or political standpoint.
An article might also be flavoured by the writer’s style. Depending on the purpose of your article, you might use very direct informative language or more poetic language to create a sense of the subject matter.
Here are some typical subjects covered by article writers:
- celebrities/famous figures (eg an article about an actor’s life and career)
The basic structure of an article for a newspaper, magazine or website, is usually in three parts:
- opening – engaging the reader, or outlining the main point of the article
- middle – a series of paragraphs that go into more detail
- end – a concluding paragraph that draws the points together
Within this structure you could also create a circular structure in which the conclusion connects back to the opening idea.
For example, an article about Kerala in India opens with the writer describing the view from a train. The middle section describes Alappuzha, the place the writer is travelling away from and goes into details about a boat trip they took there. In the concluding paragraph , the writer brings us back to the train and muses on the highlights of his trip.
The language of an article depends upon the purpose and audience . The language of the article will fit the content and the intended readers. For example, an article about a recent film release would include language that deals with actors, scripts and performance and is likely to include the writer’s opinions of the film.
Articles usually have a catchy, memorable headline . This helps to grab the reader’s attention and entice them to read the whole article.
Articles are usually written in Standard English , but colloquial sayings or phrases might be used to emphasise a point. Literary techniques such as metaphor and simile make your writing more interesting and engaging. Persuasive devices , such as rule of three, rhetorical questions and hyperbole can encourage the reader to agree with your point of view.
Here’s an extract from an article that tries to persuade the reader to eat a more balanced, healthy diet:
Eat Right: Live Longer
It has been scientifically proven that the less junk food a person consumes, the longer they are likely to live. So why isn’t everyone dumping the junk? Jordan McIntyre investigates.
Fast food equals fat
A staple part of twenty-first century British home-life is the weekly takeaway treat: finger-licking burgers, sticky ribs and crispy chicken wings are, for many, the normal Friday night feast. The average national calorie count in the UK is a whopping 4500 a day, a key factor in the obesity cases that are soaring. Fast food is packed with fat and obesity contributes to a range of health issues - most significantly heart disease and depression. So why aren’t we changing our lifestyles?
Short on time
Families these days are spending less and less time at home during the working week. School commitments, work meetings and extra curricular activities mean that time is short and fewer people are prepared to put in the effort to prepare fresh, healthy meals.
And when time is tight, it seems we are even more willing to compromise our waistlines for a little bit of what we fancy – fast fatty food.
Eat yourself healthy
However, Georgia Thomas of the University of Food says, ‘I am convinced that it is possible to live a busy lifestyle AND prepare healthy, satisfying meals. It seems that people have simply got out of the habit of cooking. We are busy people; how do we reward ourselves? You guessed it - food.’ Britain clearly needs to shift the stodge, and fast.
The headline grabs the reader's interest and introduces the article. The writer uses parallelism by using two imperative or command phrases 'Eat well' followed by 'live longer'. Alliteration is also used with the repetition of 'l'.
The rhetorical question in the opening paragraph encourages the reader to engage with the topic. The subheadings direct the reader through the text, and act as mini headlines. The writer uses colloquial sayings such as ‘a little bit of what we fancy’ and ‘shift the stodge’ to create a lively, conversational tone.
The final paragraph uses quotations from an expert to add credibility to the argument. You would expect the article to go on to explore how we can eat healthily and to conclude with an explanation of how easy it is to do this.
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Tutor My Kids
Gcse writing for a purpose: articles.
This is the first in a series of blogs to help you to ‘write for a purpose’ in preparation for English Language Paper 2. In this post we talk about how to write an article which requires you to argue a point.
This is a sample question from an AQA English Language paper, June 2017:
‘Parents today are over-protective. They should let their children take part in adventurous, even risky, activities to prepare them for later life.’ Write an article for a broadsheet newspaper in which you argue for or against this statement.
Here’s how you could tackle it:
1. Gather your ideas
Decide whether you are for or against this statement. Think of at least five strong points to support your argument and jot them down, perhaps as bullet points. Each point will become a paragraph in your article.
2. Plan for skills
You need to demonstrate the following skills (which you can remember as ‘DAFOREST’):
- Direct address. Address the reader as ‘you’ to make them feel the article is personally relevant to them.
- Alliteration . Alliteration is a great technique for making statements memorable.
- Facts. In an exam you will make up facts. For a newspaper article invent some quotes that will support your argument.
- Opinions. Use your own opinions (this goes without saying here!).
- Rhetorical questions. These are questions which don’t need an answer but help to strengthen your argument eg. ‘Do you think today’s children are smothered and cosseted?’
- Repetition . Like alliteration, repeating words or sentences reinforces your message. Some stories and poems, for example, start and finish with the same sentence. Politicians use repetition in speeches to argue their points eg. Tony Blair’s famous quote, ‘Education, education, education…’
- Emotive language. Again, this strengthens your argument. Words like ‘smothered’, ‘stifled’ and ‘oppressed’ elicit a strong emotional reaction. Instead of the word ‘bad’ you might use ‘torturous’ or ‘barbaric’.
- Statistics. This is linked to facts. Use made up statistics to support your argument.
- Three (rule of). For example, ‘By overprotecting children parents are undermining their self-esteem and confidence and causing rebellious behaviour’.
Jot down how you are going to demonstrate each of these skills in your article (perhaps at the same time!), for example:
Direct address/rhetorical questions: ‘Do you tidy your child’s room or put away their clothes?’ ‘Do you interfere with their friendship choices?’
Alliteration/rule of three: ‘If you ease up on the reins your child will be more confident, contented and courageous enough to bounce back after failure’.
3. Plan the counterargument
You need to predict how your reader might argue against some of your points. Jot down these ideas as bullet points and consider how you will defend your arguments. For example, ‘You might think that tidying your child’s bedroom is kind, but it causes them misery in the long-term because when they leave home and live with another person they will become unpopular if they don’t help with household chores’.
4. Plan your headline and subheadings
Headlines are much easier to write when you know what your article is going to be about because the job of the headline is to tell the reader, in an instant, what to expect from the article.
Write a headline that pique’s your reader’s curiosity and draws them in. Use action verbs and remove any unnecessary articles . You can use persuasive devices such as alliteration, rhetorical questions and the rule of three in your headline.
Subheadings are important too because they ‘hook’ your reader as they are scanning through the article. Subheadings outline the key idea in each paragraph – the shorter they are the better! You don’t need to use a subheading for every paragraph; always consider where you think they’re most useful.
5. Plan connectives
What connectives will you use to join paragraphs and sentences? Try to include a variety.
Adding information: and, also, as well as, furthermore, moreover, too
Building upon an idea: as long as, if
Cause and effect: because, consequently, so, therefore, thus
Comparing: as with, equally, in the same way, like, likewise, similarly.
Contrasting: alternatively, although, apart from, but, except, however, in contrast, instead of, on the other hand, otherwise, unless, unlike, whereas, yet
Emphasising a point: above all, especially, indeed, in particular, notably, significantly.
Giving examples: as revealed by, for example, for instance, in the case of, such as.
Sequencing ideas: firstly, secondly, afterwards, eventually, finally, meanwhile, next, since, whilst.
6. Write your answer
Planning your answer as above should not take more than 10 minutes. The only way to speed up the process is to practise exam questions. Sample questions from the English Language GCSE Paper 2 can be found online. The more you do now the quicker you will be on the day.
After 10 minutes planning you will have 35 minutes to write the rest of your answer. Don’t forget to leave some time at the end to read through and check your writing.
When writing your answer:
- Write an engaging opening. Use emotive language or a rhetorical question to draw the reader in.
- Look at your plan and write your paragraphs in an orderly sequence.
- End with a clear and firm conclusion to your argument, perhaps using the ‘rule of three’.
7. Edit your answer
You’ve finished – hooray! Take a few minutes to check for SPaG – spelling, punctuation and grammar. Make any improvements you need to.
Would you like further support?
TutorMyKids offers one-to-one tuition for GCSE English Language and English Literature students. Our tutors can collaborate with you and your teacher to address the areas you’re struggling with, strengthening your skills and giving you an extra boost of confidence on exam day!
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An article is a piece of writing (usually around 800-2000 words) about a particular topic. Sometimes an article will offer a balanced view of a subject. At
How To Write The Perfect GCSE “Article” In 7 Steps! | English Language Paper 2: Question 5 Revision.
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PowerPoint and resources for this video are available at www.bpcenglish.wordpress.com GCSE writing lesson on writing an article for the GCSE
Want to find out some tips on how to write an article for your GCSE English Language paper? Watch this short video!
Link to article video:https://youtu.be/MLOttTC-pMQ.
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