Mind The GAPS!

Do you ever feel like your essay is a train that gets
delayed and takes ages to arrive? Do you ever feel like you don’t know where to
go once you’ve started your essay journey? Well, get back on track with this
guide to help you plan better essays!
You’re not alone. We’ve all been there: the difficult essay
which we wish would write itself… but then we remember the Essay Fairy doesn’t
exist! (and even if it did, it probably wouldn’t help us, anyway *sigh*) So looks
like we’ll have to do it ourselves once more. Oh well. We’ve done it before so
we can do it again.
The problem is so many of us rush into essays because we’re
overconfident and can’t be bothered to plan. Just remember: laziness is
craziness! Taking a little time out to do a proper plan will make your essay
clearer, neater and it will be easier and faster to write.
Once you have read your essay question twice and any text
that goes with it (again, twice!), start your essay plan with these four simple
Genre…      what type of text are you studying?
(e.g. Online blog? Horror story? Boring
school article?)
Audience…   who is this text written for?
(e.g. Everyone? Teenagers? Teachers?
*yawn* Parents? *double-yawn!*)
Purpose…    why
has the text been written?
(e.g. Inform? Persuade? Shock? Entertain
stupid dads?)
Style…         how
has the text been written?
(e.g. 1st/2nd/3rd
person? Rhetorical devices? In mum’s embarrassing text language?)
It doesn’t matter if your essay is for English, history or
even rocket science – if you can answer these questions, your essay will be
much more manageable!
Work out the Genre
and you can make great comparisons with other similar and different texts as
well as make it clear in your mind what you’re looking at (don’t waste your
time going off on irrelevant tangents!)
Identify who the intended Audience of a text is and that can help you think like the writer
of the text. If you can think like the writer then you’ll understand more about
who they were and who they wanted to write for.
To realise why it was written, identify the Purpose of the text. This will tell you
why the author chose to write it and what they were hoping to achieve. You can
then judge how successful they were.
And finally, have a look to see if you can find any particular
Styles the text has. These can be
anything to do with how the author wrote it so focus on its layout, choice of
words or even how much punctuation or many pictures are included! Many
different things change the way a text is written including all of what has
been mentioned above and also when and where it was written. It can be
difficult to decide what styles to focus on so read carefully and decide which
things you’re going to focus on.
After all this, you can start thinking about your
introduction, conclusion and whatever good stuff comes in between. Don’t forget
to plug the GAPS in your head and
let the good stuff flow!
By Edmund Cox

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