Last post we looked at how to structure a short essay of the kind you might be required to write in an exam. This essay may sometimes come in the guise of another format, such as a speech or a letter to a newspaper; these have slightly different formats and tones, but you can still follow the same structure and method of progression: an introduction in which you ‘hook’ your reader, introduce your topic, and lay out the main ideas you will cover; two or three ‘content’ paragraphs’ in which you explore those ideals in detail; and a conclusion, in which you summarise your ideas and come to a final verdict.
Perhaps the most challenging of formats is an article for a magazine. Again, you can follow the basic five paragraph structure, but you must engage and entertain your reader to a much greater degree, and bear in mind certain conventions. For an article then, you need:
A Snappy Title
Subheadings, with puns or eye-catching phrases
A chatty and engaging tone
A wide vocabulary, and
Vocabulary specific to your topic
A variety of rhetorical devices: rhetorical questions, tri-colons (‘the magic three’), the imperative…
Below is a typical question and an example answer. Try and spot the items from the list above, then try writing your own response to the question.
Question: Write an article for a teen magazine explaining the benefits of your hobby.
The Wonder of Bird Watching
Not Just For Geeks!
Bird watching is for geeks, right? When you hear ‘bird watching’, you imagine A bunch of nerds standing around in fields and marshes in the rain, with sandwiches and flasks of tea: what’s so great about that? Well, I’ll admit that bird watching has a bit of an image problem – and that put me off at first, but give it a try and you’ll find it one of the most rewarding activities you’ve ever tried.
You don’t need to be a nerd to get into bird watching, you don’t need to join a club and you don’t need to stand around in marshes. You can start whenever you like, wherever you like, with whomever you like. All you need is a guide and a pair of binoculars. You can do it in the garden, on the way to work or even just by looking out the window. Part of the wonder of it is that you never quite know what you’ll see…
First Time Lucky
There is joy in the everyday. Even crows and magpies can be fun to watch. You’ll start with sparrows and blackbirds, before graduating to herons, hawks and harriers, and then getting to the rarest and most wonderful creatures. It is amazing when you see a particular bird for the first time. You will gasp with joy the first time you see a red kite flying above you, or a night heron lurking in the rushes. As winter comes, if you are lucky, you will catch sight of a waxwing, the weirdest, most colourful bird of all. As long as you have your binoculars and your guide, you’ll be able to enjoy the sight.
How to Start…
Bird watching gets you out the house and into the great outdoors – without having to break a sweat, and means you’re never bored as long as you are near a window. Interested? My advice is, get yourself down your local car boot sale, get an old pair of binoculars and a pocket guide, and start looking for birds today!
(Image from Microsoft)