Writing tips #2: Conventions make readers happy. . .

. . . and a happy reader (examiner) is likely to have a friendly response to what you write.  So as your final effort for 2016, the one where you are determined to 'get better' and eliminate the nasty gremlins in your writing style, give your writing an honest look at these three matters: The convention of punctuating a work's title in your essays and responses to questions. The convention of only talking about one thing at a time, a ...

4 sets of writing tips to last a lifetime

Whenever I have surveyed my students in the Literature course as to why they have chosen the course, the leading answer is 'to improve my writing.'  After that comes 'because I love reading.' So over the next months I am going to try to boil down some common problems that undermine your delivery in writing (and sometimes speaking) of what you want to say.  Some of these will be very basic and repeated errors that will make your current academic ...

‘Let us contemplate evil’

“Let us contemplate evil’ Sheridan Baker in his Practical Stylist begins one of his chapters with this invitation about ‘evil. And he offers us some evil practices that will keep you from becoming the writer you could be. So here is the second set of tips plus one. The one you really need to get rid of is the following practice: ‘emphasize on’ In idiomatic English, all you need to write or say is ‘emphasize’ followed by whatever it is that is emphasized. So ‘Fitzgerald emphasizes ...

Facing up to the IA assessment: the dreaded oral

This is a tough one, and there's no doubt about that.  Here are a few bits of good advice selected from various teachers. Collaborative advice from teachers for HL/SL candidates facing the IA for Part 2 Preparation through the year Take good notes in class, mark up your poems or passages, and all of your Part 2 works, color code, so that you have easily accessible materials to revisit for review for both the IOC and the HL discussion. Pace your review, ...

Existentialism in brief

Just in case you're not willing or able to take on the whole of Sarah Blakewell's At the Existentialist Cafe, (New York, 2016) I thought I'd provide you easy access to some points from her summary on page on page 34.  Sometimes it's good to just have a solid reference point to play your ideas against, particularly if you are reading works by Sartre or Camus.  These, remember, are her 'take' on some important facets that she sees in the ...

Existentialism, Camus and you

'I had become fascinated by him a year earlier.  On a whim, I spent some of my sixteenth-birthday money on his 1938 novel Nausea, mainly because I liked the Salvador Dali image on the Penguin cover: a bile-green rock formation and a dripping watch.  I also liked the cover blurb, which called Nausea 'a novel of the alienation of personality and the mystery of being.'  -Sarah Bakewell, the author of The Existentialist Cafe: Freedom, Being and Apricot Cocktails ...

Introductions (Part 3): Nailing it in Paper 2

Having looked at techniques for introductions for Commentaries and Written Assignments (Parts 1 and 2 of this series), it's time to look at what you can do to provide winning introductions to your Paper 2 essays. Here again, as with the Commentary, we're working with a timed exam.  That means you need to have some strategies in place so you don't have to agonize too much over the preliminaries to this portion of your essay and can instead spend the fast-disappearing  ...

Introductions and Conclusions (Part 2)

First, let's review some advice from Part 1 of Introductions and Conclusions: ***The most important factor is being aware that you are talking to someone who does not know you and does not know what you think about the material, whether it’s a work you have studied or one you are seeing for the first time. SO: INTRODUCTIONS MATTER! You need to let the reader know: what particular text(s) you intend to write about what your angle on them is, and even, possibly, how you ...

Introductions and Conclusions: Here’s some help!

By Monday, February 22, 2016 No tags 0

Beginnings and endings in assessments in Language A: Literature (Part 1): Getting it right in Paper 1. Getting in and out of an essay or a commentary. Should be pretty simple, right? Well, it’s a fair bet you’ve had some challenges with these rather apparently straightforward parts of your essays. Here are some ideas to help you, from various sources. Part 1 deals with introductions for commentaries. Later postings will deal with the Written Assignment, Paper 2 and Conclusions. ***The most important factor ...

Arguments rule for success in Paper 2

Want to learn how to produce good arguments for your Paper 2 essays? Check out this excellent advice from the popular novelist David Foster Wallace from ‘How to Write a Great Opener,’ and ‘the Measure of Good Writing’ A good opener, first and foremost, fails to repel… It’s interesting and engaging. It lays out the terms of the argument, and, in my opinion, should also in some way imply the stakes… If one did it deftly, one could in a ...