Writing about structure
Home learning focus
Practise writing about how texts are structured.
This lesson includes:
- one video
- three activities.
Watch this short clip about a campaign team who have written a successful blog post. Pay close attention to how the structure of the post contributed to its success.
Structural features are often used to create impact and meaning in a text. This is true of both fiction and non-fiction texts like the blog post in the film.
To plan a response to a question about a text's structure, we need to look out for the impact of its different structural features.
See the table below for some structural features you might look to analyse. Some of these apply to fiction, others are more common in non-fiction texts - many of them apply to both fiction and non-fiction.
|Feature||Purpose||Effect on reader|
|openings||The start of a text must interest the reader||Comment on how the writer introduces ideas and raises questions|
|focus||This is what the writer focuses on as the text develops||Analyse what is implied, eg a gloomy landscape implies an unhappy situation - what is causing that unhappiness? What will happen next?|
|shifts||Changes in ideas and perspectives, eg outside to inside||Comment on how this change is effective, eg creates contrast|
|contrast||The differences between two things||Comment on the effect a drastic difference produces|
|repetition or patterns||When words, phrases or ideas are repeated for effect||Repetitive features can highlight key meanings, indicate a development or show a lack of change|
|pace||The feeling of speed in the writing – are events and ideas revealed to the reader slowly or quickly?||Ask what effect is created by altering the pace, eg a slow pace builds tension or suggests boredom, a quicker pace may suit a piece about things happening at speed|
|temporal references||References to time||Comment on how time is used to speed up or slow down the pace of the text|
|order of events||This could be chronological or writers might choose to start at the end, in the middle, or with flashbacks / flash forwards||Comment on how the order of events introduces and prioritises key ideas – and how this engages the reader|
|endings||The conclusion of a text may be neat or leave us with questions||Think about how the reader feels at the end. Have their feelings changed since the opening?|
|withholding information||Clues and hints are given without revealing everything at once||Analyse what is implied by hints – how does this build the reader’s expectations?|
|dialogue||Conversations and speech||How does dialogue move the text forward?|
|headings, subheadings and questions||Divides the content of texts into topics and sub topics, can signal the start of new points||How do they guide readers through a text?|
|bullets||Bullets can summarise and simplify a range of ideas||Why does the writer summarise certain points?|
|sentence structures||Varied types of sentences, eg simple, compound and complex||Comment on how sentence structures affect the fluency of the text, eg a sudden short sentence could reveal shocking information|
|paragraph lengths||These vary like sentences, eg to highlight significant points or to provide a detailed account||Comment on how paragraph lengths affect the development of the text, eg a final paragraph might summarise key points in an argument|
Read through this study guide about both language and structure to remind yourself of the different elements you need to look out for when analysing a text. Pay particular attention to pages 3 and 4 on structure.
Remember to complete the quiz at the end.
Read the extract below, which is the opening to a short story.
I was afraid.
I was definitely afraid.
Possibly more afraid than I had ever been.
The wind howled through the empty corridors of the derelict building as if it was chasing out unwanted visitor. I was that unwanted visitor. The owners of the house, who I had never seen before and clearly didn’t live there, stared at me with eyes that were sunk deep into their skeletal heads; and the eyes seemed strangely black… intense somehow.
'I’m sorry to disturb you…' I muttered in a hushed tone that seemed to get very little reaction from the figures. 'It’s just that my dog ran off its lead and I last saw it running through your gate… it’s broken, you see.'
Comment on the writer’s use of structural features by completing the table below. For clarification on any of the features, please refer to this page of the study guide in Activity 1.
|Structural feature||Evidence||Effect on reader|
|opening||The first line – ‘I was afraid’||The word 'afraid' has an immediate impact. It is the first line of the story - the reader has been dropped right into the centre of the action, where the character is in danger.|
|repetition / patterns|
A typical exam-style question might ask you: How does the writer use structure to engage the reader?
Now try to write a response to this question using the table you completed in Activity 2.
Here’s an opening you might use to start:
The opening of this short story immediately engages the reader as the narrator begins ‘I was afraid’. The word ‘afraid’ has an immediate impact. It is the first line of the story and drops the reader right into the centre of the action, where the character is in danger…
In this lesson, you have written about structural choices a writer makes.
There are other useful articles on Bitesize to help you look at structure and answer essay questions.
Please note: Bitesize revision guides are split by exam board - to check if there is a specific version of a guide for your board, choose your subject and then exam board here.