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Writer's Craft Close Reading


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Writer's Craft Close Reading

  1. 1. 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.
  2. 2. Repetition repeating words or phrases to achieve a particular effect. Onomatopoeia words which sound the same as they are spelled. Personification portraying an object or animal as a human by giving it human qualities. Rhetorical Questions A question in which the writer or speaker does not require an answer. They are usually a statement in disguise. 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 .
  3. 3. '"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 sentence? (2-0) 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.
  4. 4. 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.
  5. 5. '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)
  6. 6. 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 ways – • The second part may further explain the first part; • 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!
  7. 7. Semi-Colon Divides up the parts of a list or Indicates a contrast… Two Dashes or Brackets Usually show that the writer has a more chatty tone, is in a hurry or keen to tell you his message. (Parenthesis) 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. Inverted Commas Used to indicate a new word, sarcasm, irony or the exact opposite of what the word means…
  8. 8. 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 paragraph? (2-0) 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