Task - Context, audience and purpose

The following article has appeared in your local paper:

Squirrel.

Park or car park?

Ashfield Park is threatened with closure next month as a local business has applied for planning permission to turn the area into a car park. Local residents have begun a fierce campaign to save the park, which is a popular walking spot for young children and the elderly, as well as home to the War Memorial and many wildlife species.

Task

Write to your local paper, arguing that the park should be preserved.

Question

What is the context, audience and purpose of what you are writing?

Context - the situation is that you need to write a formal letter to a newspaper that responds to what you know concerning the business, the car park and your desire to save the park.

Audience - it is for local people, a general adult audience.

Purpose - it is to argue for your viewpoint, that is, to persuade. This means you want to influence the newspaper’s readers and convince them that what you think is right.

Planning

There are lots of ways to plan what you are going to write - some of them are fancy, some of them are simple, but the most important thing is to write your main idea down. This is the idea that underpins the reason for your text, you could call it your 'controlling idea'. If you don't write this down, it is easy to lose focus. Once on a piece of paper, you will be clearer what other ideas you could then use to support this single main idea. These supporting ideas now need to be added to your list.

Question

As part of your plan, write a list of arguments for keeping the park.

Keep the park because:

  • has a war memorial
  • great for children
  • ideal for dog walking
  • already too many car parks
  • don’t want more noise and pollution
  • want to protect nature
Question

To show you have considered other opinions, and to create a balanced argument, you need to make two lists – the 'pros and cons' of the argument. One is the positive side, which supports your view (Pros); the other is the “negative” side, which goes against your view (Cons). Have a go, then compare your lists with ours.

Pros vs cons for keeping the park
ProsCons
Has war memorialCreates some jobs
Great for childrenAlready have two good parks
Ideal for dog walkingCosts a lot to keep clean
Already too many car parksVery few people use it
Don't want more noise and pollution
Want to protect nature

Some people find a spider diagram an effective way to make a list of ideas. These are more complicated, but they can show how points are linked, like this:

An example of a spider diagram showing arguments for and against building a car park

Use whichever way you find works for you, but don't forget that planning is something you need to practice. You will get much quicker and make more detailed plans.

After you have made a plan, you should move on to the process of creating your first draft. But, even if you feel confident that your first draft is really good, you always need to check it to see if it can be made better in ways that will make it yet more convincing for your readers.