One of the areas where many students feel less
confident is in questions which ask you to appreciate
the writer’s craft. Put simply this means the use of
figurative language, sentence structure, word
choice, imagery, style and structure.
Figurative language includes:
Simile a comparison using the words ‘like’ or ‘as’.
Metaphor a comparison but one where the person or thing is
said to be something else rather than just like.
Alliteration repetition of consonant sounds close together.
Repetition repeating words or phrases to achieve a
Onomatopoeia words which sound the same as they are spelled.
Personification portraying an object or animal as a human by
giving it human qualities.
A question in which the writer or speaker does not
require an answer. They are usually a statement in
Capital Letters Usually emphasise personification. Capital
letters in some words which do not usually have
one suggest the author is adding extra meaning
or emphasis .
'"Potatoes to bag up," he called over the shoulder of a customer, and
Henry made his way down to the cellar, where a bin of potatoes awaited
him. He always tried to hurry the job because the cellar was dark and
damp and he often heard rats scurrying across the floor. One day, a grey
rat squirted out of a bag of potatoes and Henry had leapt with fright, his
heart exploding in his chest. He was afraid of a lot of things - the closet
door that never stayed closed in his bedroom, spooky movies about
vampires - but most of all, the rats.'
Q: '..a grey rat squirted out of a bag of potatoes..' (line 3)
What is unusual about the writer's use of the word 'squirted' in this
The word 'squirted' is usually associated with liquids and the rat's
movement is being compared to liquid being forced out of a container, like
a tube or a bottle.
Q: Why is it a particularly suitable word to use here? (2-0)
The word is suitable (i.e. effective) to use here because it successfully
suggests that the rat moved quickly, it was small, it moved suddenly, it
appeared as something nasty. It is also an example of onomatopoeia
and the word is alliterative (i.e. from the figure of speech called
alliteration) when seen with the word 'scurrying' used earlier in the
same line of the paragraph.
'The people in the kitchen were a people stripped for war - the men
smoking beech leaves, the soup reduced to near water; around us hand-
grenades hanging on the walls like strings of onions, muskets and
cartridge-belts piled in the corner, and open orange-boxes packed with
silver bullets like fish. War was still so local then, it was like stepping into
another room. And this was what I had come to re-visit. But I was now
awash with sleep, hearing the blurred murmuring of voices and feeling the
rocks of Spain under my feet. The men's eyes grew narrower, watching
the unexpected stranger, and his lumpy belongings drying by the fire.'
Q: Why is the expression 'silver bullets like fish' a particularly
suitable one for the writer to use in this situation? (2-1-0)
- the writer is reminded of the shape of fish (= 1 mark), the writer is
reminded of the colour of fish (= 1 mark), the writer thinks the pattern
of the bullets lying in the box reminds him of a crate of fish (= 1
mark), it offers the idea that it is unusual for the ammunition to be
found in the place where food should be (= 1 mark)
Short Sentences Usually contrast with longer sentences to give a
“summing up” feeling, to stop the reader in his /
her tracks or to emphasise childishness.
Long Sentences You need to keep thinking all the time to understand
the sentence. They emphasise complicated ideas or
relationships of ideas.
Colon or Dash These divide a sentence in a number of possible
• The second part may further explain the first
• The second part may describe the general
idea of the first part more fully;
• The second part may provide a contrast to
the first part;
• And… it can also indicate the start of a list!
Semi-Colon Divides up the parts of a list or
Indicates a contrast…
Two Dashes or
Usually show that the writer has a more chatty
tone, is in a hurry or keen to tell you his message.
Minor Sentences This is a sentence in which the verb is omitted
for dramatic effect. Used –
• to create impact, suspense or urgency;
• to suggest informality;
• as abbreviations in notes and diaries.
Used to indicate a new word, sarcasm, irony or
the exact opposite of what the word means…
Mr Hairston, who runs a shop, is talking to his young assistant
Henry. At this point in the story, he is making comments about
his customers. '"The customer's always right," he proclaimed
one day, as if he could read Henry's mind. "But only in the store.
When buying. Otherwise, they're only people. Stupid, most of
them. Don't even know a bargain when they see one. So, why
give them a bargain?"'
Q: What is unusual about the writer's sentence construction in this
The 'sentences' are grammatically incomplete/they are short.
Q: What does the writer's use of this construction suggest about
Mr. Hairston's character? (2-0)
Mr. Hairston is arrogant/short-tempered/self-assured/abrupt/blunt
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