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write the liveliest, most interesting and involving article ever...

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You'll definitely have to write an article at some time during your school course and for exams. It might be a piece of writing that needs to persuade, argue and inform, for example. Above all, though, being an article, it will need to be interesting and lively.

Here are some typical questions:

Write an informative / persuasive article for…
    ...your local newspaper / a teenage magazine / your school magazine / a travel guide

on the topic of…
    ...adventure holidays / the benefits of exercise / keeping a pet / eating healthily / cycling to school.

 

WHAT IS THE EXAMINER LOOKING FOR?

In an article written for the exam, technical accuracy is often worth many marks so spelling and grammar are important. Marks are also awarded according to the how well your writing shows that you have considered the following key aspects:

AUDIENCE
This is far more important to the marks you will receive than most students realise. The examiner will be looking closely for evidence that you have considered your audience in the style of writing you use.

    The chances are you will need to adopt a quite formal style but... these days, most modern newspaper and magazine articles often intersperse a little chattiness or informal features as a way to soften the formality and create a friendly, conversational tone; in girl's and women's mags especially, the tone or 'voice' can sometimes seem to be that of a slightly older, rather wiser friend.

PURPOSE
What style
of writing will achieve the aims of your article? Are you writing to persuade, inform or explain? The Englishbiz pages on these kinds of writing should help.

GENRE
What style and form
(i.e. format) of writing would satisfy the genre conventions you need to follow for an article?

CONTEXT

Often an article is not read ‘in depth’, pored over and studied because full concentration is often not possible when a newspaper or magazine is read, so... a catchy lively style which does not demand too much of your reader and which follows a clear and logical structure is almost certain to be a good choice for many articles.

WRITING THE ARTICLE

YOU WILL NEED TO WRITE IN A WAY THAT…

...captures your reader’s eye and attention

How can you achieve this? A catchy title or headline? A suitable image or photo? Become the reader for a moment: what would catch your eye and attention?

...hooks your reader's interest

How can you hook your reader to want to read on? Make the opening sentence intriguing, lively, ‘catchy’! Give the outline facts immediately – answering briefly: What? Who? Where? When?

...is lively and interesting

How can you achieve this? A short opening sentence? A mix of shorter and longer sentences? Use clear succinct paragraphs that open with a topic sentence, one that gives, in a nutshell, what the rest of the paragraph will explore in more depth. Try hyperbole (exaggeration for effect - but use with care!).

...gives the most important facts and information first

How can you achieve this? Work out what is most important and interesting and write about this first? Leave the less important aspects and the finer detail till later?

...sounds authentic and gains your reader’s trust

How can you achieve this? Aim to create a sincere 'voice' – write in a natural, lively style. Remember that if your writing doesn't capture the trust of your reader, it won't succeed!

...sounds authoritative and is believable and persuasive

How can you achieve this? Write confidently; include made-up interviews with “experts”; use made up statistics and evidence for authoritative sources (but keep all this reasonable and believable). Use a mixture of vocabulary including a few more complex words and a few technical terms.

...avoids being overly emotional or too personal

    An article has a wide and unknown audience – you do not know them and they do not know you. Write in a way you would expect to be written for: be calm; be polite; be you!

Using photos and images...

It is a feature of articles to use images of one kind or another. These help to attract a reader's eye, help clarify a point and so on. In the exam, it is important that you do not waste time drawing! Instead, simply draw a box where the image would be and label it describing what would be there - that is all that's needed.

 

See this in action below - this is an extract from a piece written by a top article writer. How many of the above techniques can you spot? Look out for hyperbole, alliteration, informal chatty tone, 'minor' sentences  (i.e. incomplete sentences more typical of conversation):

 


It costs almost as much as weapons-grade plutonium - so can this super-serum stop me becoming an old prune?
By Jan Moir

At last. I knew that if I stayed in journalism long enough, the day would come when someone would bang a pot of cripplingly expensive miracle face cream on my desk and say: 'Try that for size, gorgeous.'
   And look here. It is not just any old crone-friendly miracle stuff. It is Creme de la Mer's new Regenerating Serum, an 'ultra luxe elixir', if you please, which went on sale for the first time this week.
   It's 210 for a 30ml bottle, which places it somewhere between Krug champagne and weapons-grade plutonium on the household beauty budget.

(from The Daily Mail, 4 Mar 2010)




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