Investigating fiction texts

Learn how to investigate language use in a fiction extract.

This lesson includes:

  • two videos to help you understand how word choice, perspective and symbolism can affect the reader

  • three activities


Watch this short clip to learn how word choice, perspective and symbolism can affect the reader.

Learn how to investigate language in fiction texts.

A writer may use a variety of language techniques to create mood and tone.

When looking at language in fiction texts it is important to start by reading the extract carefully.

  • What is happening?

  • Who is involved?

  • How does it make you feel as you read?

  • What word choices has the writer made, and what effect may they have on a reader?

A writer may choose language to gain a particular emotion or reaction from their reader.

They may decide to use figurative language, such as:

This can help create an image for the reader, making the meaning of the piece clearer.

Watch the following clip to understand how language can engage and impact upon an individual, as Sir Trevor McDonald speaks about the language choices used by Jamila Gavin in Out of India.

Sir Trevor McDonald's explains why he enjoys and can identify with an extract from Jamila Gavin's 'Out of India'.


Activity 1

Take this quiz and revise your understanding of language in fiction extracts.

Activity 2

From a book of your choice, identify between 3-5 quotations that engage you as a reader.

On a piece of paper, copy the table and write down your ideas to help you analyse your thoughts and ideas in more detail.

Select language that helps you to:

  • imagine what is happening and picture it in your head

  • helps you to understand the emotions being displayed

Top tip

You can select narrative (voiced by a narrator) which may describe a setting or emotion.

Alternatively, you can select dialogue that allows you to hear or understand from the perspective of a character.

Consider particular words that help you to engage with or understand what is happening.

Here is an example in this table:

Book titleQuotation selectedWhat does it make you think about?Which words or phrases?
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J K Rowling‘Higher and higher Harry climbed. He looped and swooped, spiralled, zig-zagged and rolled’.It encourages the reader to think about the possible disaster about to happen to Harry. It makes you feel dizzy and you can almost imagine the sensation for Harry.The repetition of ‘higher’ creates the idea that he is getting further and further from the crowd. You can imagine the view from his position.

‘Zig-zagged’ creates a feeling of quick and sharp movement. It adds to the idea of potential disaster by suggesting that Harry is losing control of his movements.

Activity 3

Follow the instructions below to complete today's activity from Twinkl.

  • Read the following extract from A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens where the main character Scrooge meets a ghost.

  • For the task you may want to have this analysing texts reference mat to hand to help you.

  • After reading the extract click the image below to download the activity grid. Complete the grid with the key devices that the writer is using to affect the reader. There are three rows for you to complete and don't forget to use the reference mat to help you.

You can print the grid or copy your answers onto a piece of paper.

Ghosts analysis activity sheet

There's more to learn

In this lesson you have learnt about investigating language in fiction texts.

There are other useful articles on Bitesize to help you use language effectively.

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