How to analyse a fiction extract

In an analytical response, you should show how language and structure create meaning. You could also explore the effect on the reader. An analytical response uses evidence from the text to make clear points.

Whatever the focus of the task, aim to focus on HOW the writer has used specific techniques or choices to create meaning, rather than WHAT the text is saying or WHO it is about.

The key to giving a relevant response is to focus on the question. What are you being asked to do? Circle the key words in the question and remember your focus as you start reading the extract.

An exam question might focus on:

  • characters
  • narrative voice
  • themes and ideas
  • language
  • structure
  • the effect on the reader

The next stage is to annotate your extract and find evidence to support your answer. Highlight, circle or underline key parts of the text that you will be able to use as evidence for your response.

When looking at an extract, try and read it more than once. First read the entire extract from beginning to end and annotate any language or structural details that interest you. If you have time, do another read-through annotating other important words and phrases.