Essay Writing GCSE Holmes


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A guide to writing GCSE analytical essays using the Sherlock Holmes short stories as a framework

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Essay Writing GCSE Holmes

  1. 1. How to write top grade GCSE essays
  2. 2. 1) Analyse the question •Identify the keywords – they are your co-ordinates •If you do not clearly understand the question, and use it to guide your planning, you will quickly go astray
  3. 3. 2) Research your topic •Use the terms of the question as a prism through which you can analyse the text •Use the text as your primary source and if appropriate you can also use the internet, study guides and other writings
  4. 4. 3) Plan your essay •If you plan it right, you will write it right! •Your task is to construct a well-formed argument, in the same way that a lawyer must build a case to defend a client
  5. 5. What is an argument? •It is a proposition (idea) that is open to debate •Often an essay question is designed in such a way that it directs you to the argument you should build: To what extent could it be argued that... Do you agree or disagree that...
  6. 6. What is NOT an argument? •A list of unconnected points •A simple retelling of the plot •Talking about whether you like or dislike a text (which has its place but should not dominate an analytical essay)
  7. 7. The 3C Formula Coherence Well formed argument Complexity Connectivity
  8. 8. Coherence •Your argument should not be contradicted by the evidence. •If it IS you could abandon the argument, ignore the contradiction or find a way to interpret the evidence in a different way •Being aware of counter arguments and commenting on them in your essay can be an effective strategy
  9. 9. •Counter arguments can be raised and challenged on your terms in order to strengthen your case – this is a form of inoculation •Showing your awareness of other possible arguments can give your essay depth
  10. 10. Connectivity •You should look for several ways in which the text supports your argument •If you were a lawyer, you would look for several reasons which combine to prove your client is innocent •Each point will support the others so that your argument becomes more and more convincing
  11. 11. Form & Setting Themes Structure Text Context Imagery Narrative Characters & Language voice relationships
  12. 12. Complexity •To secure the higher grades, you must do some thinking of your own rather than regurgitate a carbon copy of your teacher’s ideas and class notes •You should aim to produce a sophisticated but clearly expressed thesis (argument)
  13. 13. Presenting an argument- PEE •At the heart of your essay will be a series of ideas (Points) •They will be supported by details taken directly from the text (Evidence) •You will explain how this evidence proves your point and, in turn, strengthens your developing argument (Explanation)
  14. 14. PEE Paragraph burgers
  15. 15. Remember – you must BUILD An argument
  16. 16. 4) Write your essay •If you have taken the time to create a well structured and supported plan, writing the essay itself is easy! •Over time your expression will become more mature and focused which will also strengthen your essay work
  17. 17. •You can tick off the paragraphs in your plan as you complete them. •This way, if you take a break, it’s easy to pick the essay back up again without losing focus
  18. 18. 5) Edit your essay •It is really important to realise that your last full stop should NOT mark the end of the process •You must carefully proof read your work for sense, clarity and technical accuracy and make any changes as necessary
  19. 19. The Question What do we learn of the characters of Holmes and Watson in the case of ‘The Man with the Twisted Lip’?
  20. 20. The Question What do we learn of the characters of Holmes and Watson in the case of ‘The Man with the Twisted Lip’?
  21. 21. •What they say •What they do •What others say about them •The relationship between them •Why has Doyle done this?
  22. 22. The Argument
  23. 23. The relationship between Holmes and Watson (and their contrasting personalities and approaches to the case) is essential to the success of the Sherlock Holmes short stories.
  24. 24. The Research
  25. 25. Annotation of the text (notes & quotations) Mind map points of interest Organise them into an order that lends itself to the question focus
  26. 26. The Plan
  27. 27. •Watson as narrator (poetic, descriptive detail & withholding of information) •Domestic scene disturbed •Holmes as master of disguise •Holmes extraordinary hearing •Holmes dominant status in the relationship •Holmes as predator •Watson as an observer and commentator •Contrast in language for purpose (precision vs. poetry) •Holmes’ excitability, Watson’s calm measured approach •Watson sleeps and Holmes smokes – the deductive method •Holmes as victorious but not self congratulatory •Holmes as judge and jury •The harmonious partnership
  28. 28. Writing
  29. 29. Editing
  30. 30. Have I answered the question set? Have I supported my ideas with close textual references? Does my response follow my plan? Is my answer technically competent (SPG)? Has it been proof read by someone else?
  31. 31. Your Turn
  32. 32. Your Questions Account for the ongoing popularity of the Sherlock Holmes stories with reference to a range of stories to illustrate your ideas. Examine the ways in which Conan Doyle establishes and builds tension in the Sherlock Holmes short stories. You should refer to a range of stories in your response.