When it comes to writing, students need to show they can craft their writing to the purpose of the assignment or to the audience they’re writing for.
So it’s essential that your teen’s skilled at adapting their style and vocabulary depending on the type of task.
That’s why I’m gonna share with you a quick and simple trick they can use to do this easily and instantly.
I love this snappy little technique, because it’s super simple, really quick (no genius brain cells required) but also hugely effective.
I can tell you, from marking hundreds, actually it’s probably thousands, of creative and formal writing exams, that this ‘style’ or ‘appropriate to genre’ element is a critical part of the marking criteria for almost any task.
Now, there are LOTS of different types of formats, genres and forms of written tasks.
Some of the most obvious or common are narratives or short stories, persuasive speeches, inquiries, analytical essays, scientific reports, feature articles… and that’s just a few.
There are heaps more.
So I want to share with you one of the ways to make a clear distinction between these, and then a simple but effective way your teen can adapt their writing to fit it.
Right, STEP ONE:
Your teen needs to determine whether their task requires them to write formally or informally.
Examples of a formal assignment include:
– an analytical essay,
– a research report,
– a scientific investigation,
– a historical enquiry.
Examples requiring a less formal writing style include:
– a monologue,
– a narrative (AKA a short story),
– a blog article
– a movie or book review,
– magazine column.
Of course these examples are not exhaustive and this is really a continuous scale.
After all, when it comes to a speech, an official speech from the Prime Minister would be quite different in style and formality compared to a speech at a wedding!
So that first step is to consider where the task lies on the scale from formal to casual.
Then, once they‘ve determined what level of formality their writing needs to take – they can think about…
Identifying the tools and techniques that are most appropriate and getting to work on incorporating them into their writing.
Wow, there are LOTS of different tools.
So I want to give you just one.
Because it’s one of the simplest and easiest, but super-effective tricks to make their writing instantly stand out as either formal or informal.
It’s using CONTRACTIONS – or – NOT using them.
Let’s take a quick flash back to English grammar lessons…
*cue floaty flashback music*
Contractions are where we join two words to make one with an apostrophe.
- it is – becomes – it’s
- where has my pen gone – becomes – where’s my pen gone?
And from that last example you can probably already see the effect this little change has.
Contractions make things more casual.
They’re great for using in direct speech for characters in a story.
— Oooh – there’s another one – see how I contracted they are to they’re 😉
Students should use contractions when they want to produce a less formal style of writing.
Perhaps for a script or a blog, or even a feature article.
And the opposite is true for formal writing.
Keeping all words complete and separate keeps writing sound a lot more serious and official.
Like this: They are good for science reports, essays and other formal style tasks.
See how that already sounds more official than ‘They’re good’?
Have your teen give it a go.
You’ll be surprised at the difference it makes and how it can boost their achievement in writing appropriately to the task, genre or specified audience.
Then, once you’ve seen what a difference such a tiny tweak can make,
go check out my Write Like an A-Grader online training – 9 short and powerful modules for creating writing that WOW’s the marker!
It’s packed with strategies, tips and techniques like this and much more sophisticated ones too, from coming up with A-Grade ideas and structuring them, to the final edit and proofread.
And if you know anyone else who’d benefit from this tip, then please feel free to forward them a link to this video or blog article and feel free to share it on your social media.
And until next week, let’s make this a fantastic week!