TOPIC 5: WRITING USING APPROPRIATE LANGUAGE CONTENT AND STYLE
The Meaning of Composition
This topic deals with compositions that engage pupils/students in writing using appropriate language, content and style. Composition refers to a short text that is written at school, college, etc. as part of exercise. In composition a student/pupil generates his/her own ideas to explain, narrate, argue/persuade or describe something or event. Composition involves writing of essays, poems, stories, songs, and letters.
Types of Composition
There are various types of compositions, they include:
a) Narrative compositions.
b) Expository compositions
c) Descriptive compositions.
d) Argumentative or Persuasive compositions.
A) NARRATIVE COMPOSITIONS
Narrative compositions refer to stories of different events. These stories may be personal, historical or fictional. Personal stories focus on important events of the author’s life. Historical stories capture a moment from the past and present it in a story format. Fictional stories use imagination and figurative language to produce a short story.
A narrative composition is the composition that tells a story. When writing narrative about an event, the following should be included:
- When did it happen?
- What exactly happened?
- When did the event start?
- How did you know about the event?
- Did you witness or where you told about the event?
- Were you involved in the event?
- How did the event end?
Characteristics of Narrative Composition
1. Always tells a story from a writer's perspective.
2. Plot refers to how one event leads to another.
3. Characters are described through action, speech and thoughts, good characters are always described in detail.
4. Setting refers to the time and place in which the story takes place.
5. Theme refers to the meanings behind the story.
Basic Elements of Narrative Compositions
There are several basic elements that should be considered when writing a narrative composition. These include: plot, characters and setting.
Plot: is a sequence of events or actions in a story. It has conflict that is a problem to human experience, and a resolution, that is the outcome of the conflict. Most plots develop in the five stages, namely: exposition, rising action, climax, falling action and resolution.
1. Exposition is a background information about the characters and setting
2. Rising action is a part that develops the conflict
3. Climax is the point of the highest interest, conflict or suspense in the story
4. Falling action is a part that shows what happens to the characters after the climax
5. Resolution shows how the conflict is resolved, or the problem is solved.
Characters are animate or inanimate things that perform certain roles in literature. Animate things are living things like people, plants and animals, while inanimate things are non-living things like stones, air, wind, soil, pieces of wood, etc. when inanimate things are given human attributes, they are personified (personification).
Setting is the time and place in which the events of a narrative occur.
Steps in writing Narrative Compositions
There are several steps to follow when writing a narrative composition. They include: finding a story idea, developing characters, setting the scene, communicating a theme and choosing a point of view.
1. Finding a story idea: The story should have a conflict/topic/problem that can be external or internal, intra-personal or inter-personal, at the level of an individual, group or society. Story ideas come from everyday life experience, newspapers, magazines or books.
2. Developing characters: Assign roles that relate to their physical descriptions, thoughts, personality traits, actions and reactions to one another,. Include dialogue to let readers witness the characters, conversations. In writing a dialogue, use the language that reflects age, background and personality of each character.
3. Setting the scene: in setting the scene, include information about time, place, weather and historical period. Often setting will affect the way characters act.
4. Communicating a theme: Theme is a main idea of a story that the writer conveys through the narrative. One way to express the theme of narrative is through description of the setting and the title.
5. Choosing a point of view: The decision is made by the author whether to use first person (i/we), second person (You) or third person (he/she/it/they) narration. In first person point of view, the narrator is a character in the story. In third person point of view the narrator is an observer of the event being narrated.
B) EXPOSITORY COMPOSITION
An expository composition is a piece of writing or story that gives directions, explains an idea or term, compares one thing to another and explains how to do something. The purpose of an expository writing is to explain something to the reader or audience.
Structure of Expository Essay
1. Clear and concise defined thesis statement that occurs in first paragraph of the essay.
2. Clear and logical transition between the introduction body and conclusion.
3. Body paragraph that include evidential support ,and each paragraph should have one general idea
4. Evidential support which may be factual, logical, statistical or anecdotal.
5. A Bit of creativity may add credit to your essay.
C) DESCRIPTIVE COMPOSITION
Descriptive composition is the type of writing that describes about events, actions or phenomena which exist or happened sometime in the past. It tells that a phenomenon is, like by giving the details of the features or characteristics. A writer can describe the colour, size, quality, feeling, smell, taste, sound, speed, or age of someone or something.
For example, one can write an essay describing the Kilimanjaro Mountain, or Lake Victoria or the shape of animal cell.
In writing a descriptive composition, avoid the following overused modifiers: good, bad, really, so, and very. Instead you may consider the following modifiers: completely, definitely, especially, exceptionally, largely, mostly, notably, oddly, particularly, strikingly, surprisingly, terribly, thoroughly and unusually.
Also, use precise verbs and words that appeal to sight, sound, taste, smell, and touch, so as to capture the essence of actions.
Examples of descriptive writing topic are your dream house, favourite restaurant etc.
How Descriptive Writing Helps Students
· 1. It helps to make your writing more interesting.
· 2. It encourages students to use new words
· 3. It can help students clarify their understanding of new subject matter.
Characteristics of Descriptive Writing
1. Good descriptive writing includes many sensory details that paint a picture in the reader's mind.
2. Good descriptive writing uses precise language, specific adjectives and nouns and strong action verbs, avoid use of passive sentences.
3. Good descriptive writing often makes use of figurative language such as analogies, similes and metaphor to help to paint picture bin reader's mind.
4. Good descriptive writing is organised e.g. chronological (time) spatial 9 location ) and order of importance, for example in describing person by starting with their physical appearance then move to their thoughts.
How to Write Descriptive Essay
More than other types of essays descriptive essays strive to create deep and vivid experience for the reader, following things should be considered:
Planning your descriptive essay
1. What or who do you want to describe?
2. What is your reason for writing your description?
3. What are the particular qualities you focus on?
Drafting your descriptive essay
- Such details such as sights, sound, smell, taste and texture are important in developing your description.
Revising your descriptive essay
1. Make sure you have provided enough details and description.
2. Do not forget minor but important points.
3. Use words that may convey emotion or perspective.
4. Each paragraph should focus on an aspect of description.
5. Organise your paragraphs.
D) ARGUMENTATIVE/PERSUASIVE COMPOSITION
Argumentative or persuasive composition is the type of writing aimed at convincing, motivating, arguing, or persuading readers to accept, change or take action on something or topic or subject in whatever form that might be. For example, an essay can be written to persuade readers to join a certain political, party, or buy something, or vote for a certain candidate or use certain medicine in combating malaria or AIDS. It is commonly assigned to teach students to write about facts and conduct research.
Argumentative essays are written like other essays but they must have the following:
- An introduction.
- Thesis statement which may have supportive evidence.
- Body paragraphs.
- A conclusion
Types of Argumentative Composition
Analysis essays: Argumentative analysis essays focus on other argumentative essays, the purpose of this essay is to analyse other evidence.
Personal essays: Do not rely on research and are based on opinions as well as personal experience.
Research papers: Argumentative research papers which rely heavily on external sources to make and support the main arguments, authors should take various research papers as cites for their essays.
Things to consider when writing a persuasive composition
Varied opinions about the topic: You must argue for a point and try to convince readers to support your opinion. Your opinion should be disputable or argumentative. If your opinion can’t arouse argumentation then it is worthless. For example, it would be pointless to argue that the sun rises in the west and sets in the east because almost everyone would not agree with you. However, your might argue on a certain theory which states that the sun accounts for 90% of desertification.
Audience receptiveness: Take into consideration your audience and their opinions, are well as their age, level of education, sex and problems they encounter when choosing a topic. For example, one can write about HIV/AIDS, importance of education, the problem of pregnancy in primary schools, floods, outbreak of diseases etc.
Sufficient evidence: Provide sufficient evidence to support your arguments. If give little support for your opinion, you will be fighting a losing battle.
Use inductive and deductive reasoning: Reasoning is an important aspect in providing arguments. Reasoning can be inductive or deductive.
Inductive reasoning proceeds logically from limited facts to a general conclusion, that is, reasoning from specific aspects to general aspects.
Creative writing involves the figurative use of language in a more artistic way. Creating writing goes hand in hand with competence and performance of a certain language. Creative writing becomes more effective when one becomes capable of using literary devices and skills. Literary devices are tools which make a story or any piece of writing figurative.
Some of the literary devices which are used in most literary works include: personification, hyperbole, simile, rhetorical questions, irony sarcasm, tautology, onomatopoeia, alliteration, reiteration, assonance, consonance, proverbs, riddles, just to mention a few. (For more details about literary devices refer to Chapter Four)
Writing styles and techniques help you as future writer to develop and grow, below are the various techniques to consider:
Point of view: When writing a short story or novel ,point of view is important in establishing who is telling the story.
Strong plot: Creating a strong plot for you story is important, you could have engaging characters, great scenes but if the plot is weak the reader will not be interested.
Description: When writing a short story or novel it is important to describe characters, action and setting in detail.
Flashback: Sometimes writers move back in time to write about past events to provide more background detail about the story to the reader.
Dialogue: It's important to master communication between your characters. Dialogue is important in building suspense,conveying your story and setting a mood.
Foreshadowing: This technique helps build a mood and engages your reader's mind, it's a technique where you drop clues or hints about characters or events that help reader predict what might happen later on.
Writing prompts: Writing prompts are sentences or paragraphs that provide inspiration for you to write ,they can be activities or ideas.
Story starters: This is a technique that helps you starts your story or novel.
FIGURES OF SPEECH
Simile: it is used to compare two different things having a common quality.
- Janet is as beautiful as a rose.
- He is running very fast like a horse.
Metaphor: It is used to compare two different things treated as one. It is also called and implied simile without using words such as ‘like’, ‘so’, ‘as,
- Education is a key to life.
- An elephant is the king of the forest.
Allegory: A form of extended metaphor in which objects, persons and actins in narrative, either in prose or verse, are equated with meanings that lie outside the narrative itself.
Personification: It is a way of giving inanimate and other lifeless objects the qualities of human beings such as speaking, walking, thinking, etc.
- Hyena requested Hare to give him some water
- The sun sheds his beams on all people.
Hyperbole: It is used to exaggerate facts.
- I thanked him a hundred times.
- He is as tall as the P.P.F tower
Euphemism: It is used to say unpleasant thing in a pleasant manner.
- ‘I am going to the comfort station’ instead of ‘I am going to the toilet’.
- ‘My mother has passed away’ instead of ‘My mother has died’.
Irony: It is used to express the opposite meaning which is different from the real meaning .
- You are very beautiful (to someone who does not look beautiful)
- You have scored very high (to a student who has failed to test)
Rhetorical questions: It is a question which does not need an answer because the answer is known to the person who is asking the question.
- Will there be a tomorrow?
- Now! Why don’t you act?
Alliteration: Repetition of identical consonant sounds at the beginning of word or of stressed syllable within a word in a verse.
Example: after, life fit fever.
Assonance: Repetition of similar vowel sounds in stressed syllables that end with different consonant sound.
- Lake and fate.
- Clean and cream.
- Side and wide.
Archaism (Barbarism): Using different languages in conversation or writing. The worlds which are not acceptable in that language (language used) because it is foreign. In short this term refers to the borrowed words.
Litotes: A form of understatement in which a thing is affirmed by stating the negative of its opposite.
- ‘She was not unmindful’ meaning ‘she gave careful attention’
- ‘It wasn’t easy’ meaning ‘It was very difficult’.
Onomatopoeic: The formation of words by the imitation of sounds resembling those associated with the object instead of object itself.
Example: “hiss” “buzz”, “whir”, and “sizzle”.
Satire: A literary manner that blends a critical attitude with humour and wit for the purpose of improving human institutions or humanity.
- It seems there is no salon nearby.
- Your hairs are very cooperative.
Sarcasm: Bitterness. It may not be ironical but it always cuts bitter and ill natured. It aims at inflicting pain.
- If you are the son of God rescuer yourself from the cross.
- If you are a mechanical engineer, tell us the problem of this car.
Humour: Funny and amusing. It can be a comic speech, a comic behavior or comic appearance.
Wife: I have been watching you for almost half an hour concentrating on our marriage contract certificate. What is wrong?
Husband: Nothing wrong! But I am just trying to find out the expiry date of our marriage contract.
Wit: Clever and humorous expression of ideas (intelligent and understanding). With raises a sense of awareness. Example: Oh! Why didn’t you tell me that those mosquitoes are your beloved friends? I can see you visiting the pharmacy daily. But I have two mosquito nets. Can I give you one to dress your bed so as to attract more mosquitoes?
Sympathy (sympathetic): Feeling of pity and sorrow; capacity for sharing the feeling of others. Example: I really recognize your current situation. It is God’s work. Let us pray for her soul so that God may rest her in eternal life.
Climax: A figure of speech which is used to express a series of ideas in the order of increasing importance.
1. I heard, I followed, and I won.
2. Some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them.
3. I came, I saw, I conquered.
Litotes: It is used to convey an affirmative meaning by employing a negative word.
1. ‘The car is not in bad condition’ meaning ‘the car is in good condition’
2. ‘Elizabeth is not a lazy woman’ meaning ‘Elizabeth is a hard worker.’
3. ‘Tanzania is not a mono-party system nation’ meaning ‘Tanzania is a multiparty system nation.’
Ellipsis: It is the omission of words or letters to avoid repetition in the sentences.
Thesis: An attitude or position on a problem taken by a writer or speaker with the purpose of providing or supporting it.
Contrast: A device by which one element is opposed to another for the sake of emphasis or clarity.
Antithesis: A figure of speech characterized by strongly contrasting words, clauses, sentences or ideas:
- Man proposes and God disposes.
- To err is human but to forgive is divine.
Allusion: A figure of speech that makes brief reference to a historical or literary figure, event or object.
Ambiguity: The expression of an idea in language that gives more than one meaning and leaves uncertainty as to the intended significance of the statement. Example words like bank, socket etc.