What is Genre?

You may have heard the word genre before at school or have seen it written somewhere.

A definition of genre is a style of text or written language where each piece has a purpose (what are we writing for) and an audience (who are we writing for).

There are two types of Genres – Literary Type and Non Literary Type Genres:

  1. Literary Type Genres – are written to entertain
  2. Non-Literary Type Genres – are written to inform

1.        Literary Type Genres:

Personal Recount: a personal recount is basically a retelling or recounting of events that have happened. You can write a recount after a special event or day, like what you did on Australia Day; after an excursion or field trip; or after the holidays. The basic outline of a recount includes -:

  • Orientation: when and where it happened and who was there
  • Sequence of Events: tells about what happened in the order they happened
  • Ending: tells how the experience ended and gives a personal opinion of events

In a personal recount there is the use of verbs, describing events and sentence joining words like after, then, next and that.

 Narratives: a narrative is basically a story told based on true events or the imagination. The outline or structure of a narrative includes -:

  • Orientation – beginning of the story, introduces who the main characters are and sets the scene, describing where and when the story takes place.
  • Complication/Problem – something goes wrong or a problem arises. As in most stories you read, there is something that happens to one of the main characters. Here you can write information building up to and describing this problem or complication.
  • Resolution – problem or complication is solved. This can be a good or bad resolution. The resolution also includes the ending of the story – tying up of loose ends.

There are a number of narrative styles that you can develop to include short stories, mysteries, adventures, plays and fairy tales.

Poetry: Poetry can include rhyming verse, ballads, songs, haiku etc

2.     Non Literary Type Genres These can be broken down into transactional, procedural, report and expository type genres.

Transactional: these include greetings, invitations, apologies, introductions, vote of thanks, telephone conversations, personal letters and advertisements.

Procedural: include instructions, lists, recipes, science experiments and rules for games.

Directions: these can be written or spoken. Directions need to include:

  • Goal: where you want to go
  • Steps: the steps needed to get to your goal

Instructions: Instructions are used to make or do something. Instructions include recipes and science experiments and includes the following structure:

  • Goal: what you want to achieve
  • Materials/Ingredients: list what you will need to achieve your goal
  • Steps: sequence the steps needed.

Instructions often include many action verbs and are written in present tense.

Report: includes information reports, book reports, descriptions and news reports.

Information Reports: Information reports at school are mainly written to give information about either animals, plants or places. The structure needed in an information report includes –

  • Title – what you are writing about
  • Introduction – give a description or definition about the topic
  • Body – this can be broken down into categories – each having a sub-heading
  • Illustrations, photos and diagrams – to help describe the topic
  • Conclusion
  • Glossary – can include a list of words that are particular to the topic and may need defining.

Expository: type genres include explanations and display advertisements.

Explanations: are written to explain how and why things are. The basic structure for an explanation includes:

  • Title – a how or why statement or question
  • A Basic Statement – a basic definition about the title topic
  • Explanation – explains in logical steps the statement or question process as in the title.

Private Home Tutoring of English Not an On-Line Free Tutoring Service

I am NOT an on-line free tutoring service.  My resources on this website are for general use only.  I do not write student’s essays for them or give advice on essay prompts. However, for more intensive tutoring in a specific area of English, I will visit students in their own homes for private tutoring sessions that are paid on an hourly basis.


An Essay on The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The following is a generalist essay on The Great Gatsby that may help students studying the iconic novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald

 Please Note that all page numbers mentioned are from the Penguin Books Edition 2000

The Great Gatsby is a story of Jay Gatsby’s quest for Daisy Buchanan and also examines the vision of the 1920’s American Dream.  The Great Gatsby details society’s failure to fulfill its potential and part of the mess left in the Buchanan’s wake at the end of the novel includes the literal and figurative death of Jay Gatsby.  His murder at the hands of a despondent George Wilson evokes sympathy.  The true tragedy, however, lies in the destruction of an ultimate American idealist, the self-made man of the American Dream.

Gatsby is in many ways an enigma.  Fitzgerald suggests that what is essentially a spiritual ideal, a belief in the power of individuals to shape their own destiny becomes entangled with and corrupted by a materialistic pursuit, the amassing of great wealth.  In time one becomes mistaken for the other.  Gatsby’s tragedy is a kind of fable of American culture and Gatsby’s final bewilderment is echoed by Americans who ask “what went wrong?”

The novel is basically about the failure of a dream that of Jay Gatsby of West Egg, self-made man.  The dream fails as it breeds upon an illusion described by Nick Carraway to Gatsby as “You can’t repeat the past” (p.106 Penguin Books Edition 2000).  Gatsby is not condemned for his dream nor does Fitzgerald want to rejoice at the victory of reality over illusion for this alone is incorruptible amidst the novel’s corruption.  When Nick finally tells Gatsby “You’re worth the whole bunch put together” (p.146) Fitzgerald elevates Gatsby above the Buchanans and the Jordan Bakers of the world.

The novel does reflect the universal tragedy of man.  It is a product of the Jazz era of America in the 1920’s.  The most common myth of the self-made man with its assumptions that material success is the ultimate human goal and that anyone can achieve it.  Gatsby is dedicated to the myth in a society where opportunities and “gonnegtions” are just a likely illicit.  The myth of success through virtue can never be more than myth for any attempt to realise it corrupts it.

In portraying Tom and Daisy Buchanan and Jordan Baker, Fitzgerald points to other manifestations of corruption of American society.  To Nick, Daisy, Tom and Jordan are a “rotten crowd” despite their superficial glamour are characterized by their irresponsibility and dishonesty.  They are like American aristocracy with their wealth but their emptiness is an indictment of the values of society.  Nick believes Gatsby turned out all right at the end but people like Tom and Daisy are described as the “foul dust that floated in the wake of his dreams” (p.8).  Fitzgerald suggests that what is essentially a spiritual ideal, a belief in the power of individuals to shape their own destiny becomes entangled with and corrupted by a materialistic pursuit, the amassing of great wealth.  Nick’s growing awareness of the corruption that underpins the glamour of the East and his yearning to return to the more innocent values of his past is a key issue.

Technically the success of the novel depends on Fitzgerald’s use of the fictional first person, the narrator Nick Carraway.  It is through his eyes that we see the rottenness of the Buchanan’s world and the basic rightness of Gatsby’s outward vulgarity. Nick says of Gatsby’s existence “My incredulity was submerged in fascination now, it was like skimming hastily through a dozen magazines””(p.65).  Nick is seduced by Gatsby’s fabricated identity and yet he chooses to focus on Gatsby as a hapless dreamer rather than a seamy criminal.  In re-telling Gatsby’s tale and alerting us to the reasons for his down fall he opens himself up to evaluation and scrutiny, both of which are crucial to the understanding of the great subtleties of the novel.

The importance of seeing points of view and the eyes in the novel is that the reality we as readers see is the reality Nick sees everything clearly.   The eyes of Dr TJ Eckleburg at once blind and all seeing are an important symbol.  When Myrtle is dead, George ironically confuses the advertising board as God when he says “You may fool me, but you can’t fool God” (p.152).  Michaelis saw with a shock George was looking at the eyes of Doctor TJ Eckleburg.  Wilson bears the brunt of society’s guilt, he is the scapegoat.  He encompasses the sterile sense of emptiness in the novel.  America in the 20’s was robbed of spiritual God and replaced it by consumerism.  Wilson then is the spokesperson of the spiritual emptiness in the novel.

Certain important points need to be taken on face value.  Gatsby says Daisy was driving the car that killed Myrtle but as Nick and the reader, we have to accept this story.  So the question of individual perception of reality becomes of crucial importance.  We as Nick are left with doubt regarding Jordan Baker’s alleged cheating at golf.

This idea of the gap between appearance and reality, the vision and the dream, haunts the book all the way from Meyer Wolfsheim who fixed the 1919 World Series, to Gatsby, whose 5 year dream of Daisy falls tragically short of the vision of Tom’s wife.  Daisy is a passive character who we see rather as the person that Gatsby idealizes rather than a thinking women.  Her cynical comment about her daughter’s birth “I’m glad it’s a girl.  And I hope she’ll be a fool – that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world …”(p.22), shows how oppressive being a women in that society was.  She appears as a fragile veneer.  Her time and life is an endless, passive repetition of parties and other sterile social engagements.

The readers eyes through Nick are crucial.  There are two interpretations of the book.  It is a parable of the corruption of the East and the manner in which the young man of the West, seeking a new life, lives through and learns the corruptions of the East.  Secondly, that while the book is a parable of corruption of the world in which Nick lives is indicative of the failure of the American Dream.

The complexity of Fitzgerald’s attitudes are different for the arenas and people who inhabit them. All engaged in their own “pursuit of happiness”.  The moral judgements are not simple.  One does not blame Myrtle for wanting to escape the pathetic pretence of a sophisticated gentility.  Myrtle lives in the Valley of the Ashes above a “shadow of a garage (that) must be blind” (p.27).  The valley of the ashes is a desolate wasteland representing the stark underbelly of society who has replaced faith with consumerism.

George and Myrtle represent the social underside or grim reality of those who cannot succeed.  Both are manipulated and exploited by the upper classes for their own selfish needs.  Tom uses Myrtle as a disposable sexual unit and takes advantage of George by telling him about Gatsby’s car that killed Myrtle, so removing Gatsby as a rival for Daisy’s hand.

Dr Eckleburg broods over the solemn dumping ground of the Valley of the Ashes but sees nothing.  These people represent the morally blind and fabricate reality, mis-read each other and themselves and lie and betray.  The characters face a major problem focusing their vision and constructing their personal images of what life means for them within the frame of the morally and confusingly disturbed land of the blind.  Gatsby’s lack of insight and susceptibility to illusion was doomed to fail.

Wealth can’t buy love but it can buy elegance, style and beauty represented by Daisy.  Nick is convinced Gatsby turned out alright in the end.  The Buchanan’s as represented by Nick’s final summation is very apt.  He pictures them as “They were careless people, Tom and Daisy – they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made” (p.170).  The picture of two emotionally and spiritually sterile adolescents out of control and dangerous, devoid of compassion, ridden with moral amnesia and oblivious to the havoc they have generated.  They are safely cocooned by spiritual atrophy and fanned by wealth.  They live without guilt, emotion of conscience.

Nick sees Gatsby not as a failure “his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it” (p.171).  Dreams may be lost in the vast obscurity.  While Gatsby does let his dreams, self-created, fictitious and illusions get in the way of reality, he also provides us with some hope.  There is nothing wrong with the desire to dream.

May be Fitzgerald intended for us never to really know Gatsby.  What is reality and illusion?  Gatsby embodies a rags to riches story but also contributes to the ethical decay within American society during the Jazz Age.

Private Home Tutoring of English Not an On-Line Free Tutoring Service

I am NOT an on-line free tutoring service.  My resources on this website are for general use only.  I do not write student’s essays for them or give advice on essay prompts. However, for more intensive tutoring in a specific area of English, I will visit students in their own homes for private tutoring sessions that are paid on an hourly basis.


Minimum of Two by Tim Winton A Brief Analysis

Minimum of Two is an Anthology [collection of works] of 14 Short Stories

Winton set the stories in post WWII Perth, WA.  The basis of the stories deals with relationships under stress and hardship.  Winton’s style is minimalist with a concern about the metaphysics of life itself.  What unites Winton’s characters is their common humanity.  The degree to which the characters succeed in responding to challenges varies considerably across the 14 stories.  Winton’s characters are ordinary people who do not use a sophisticated vocabulary.  The narrative often refers to characters in generic terms as ‘the boy’, ‘the girl’ or ‘the Man’ which shifts the focus away from the individual and more on the universal dimensions of their experiences.  Winton’s style withholds details that remain unsaid forcing the reader to guess at a character’s deeper reasons for acting in such a way.  Tensions and conflicts are not resolved but manipulated by Winton suggesting that the characters have an ongoing struggle for survival and contentment.

The Title

Is from the story “Minimum of Two” which refers to the insultingly short sentence Blakey receives for raping Greta.  His sentence was 5 years with a minimum of 2 years before parole.  The irony is that while Blakey does not suffer in prison as the perpetrator of sexual assault; Greta the victim ends up with a life sentence after the rape.

The Meaning of the Epigraph [an inscription or quote at the beginning of a book]

The Epigraph points to the central preoccupation of the stories.  Winton shows the contradiction that adding one and one should be two not leading back to one.  The stories point to the constant need and struggle of people to form relationships that effectively make a ‘minimum of two’.  However, in many of the stories the characters are unable to come together with partners, families or friends and often remain isolated from one another, hence still one.

The Stories suggest that we must not be alone

That life, not mere survival, is dependent on our ability to operate as part of a relationship with other people.  We live our lives as wives, husbands, sons, daughters, best friends and parents.  Those who think of themselves as “islands” do not survive.

Key Issues

  1. Experience of Loss – Winton explores the destructive effects of loss on people’s lives and their reaction to that loss.  Many characters internalise loss making them isolated and unable to communicate effectively with others.
  2. The past and persistence of memory – The past haunts characters because of their persistent memory.  Their past prohibits and burdens them so they have difficulty moving forward.
  3. Movement of time through life – The characters experience markers of their childhood, puberty, adulthood, marriage, fatherhood, death and mortality.
  4. Buoyancy of water – The capacity to float in water functions as a metaphor for emotional resilience.
  5. Negotiating gender roles – The text questions the role of men in the home and workplace and its feelings of dislocation.
  6. A sense of place versus desire to travel – Many characters have a strong sense of place especially where they have grown up which often is near water.
  7. Moments of revelation and acceptance – Some stories end in despair while others find moments of understanding and acceptance of their situation.
  8. Sources of moral truth – The central character of the “Everyman” is summoned by death but the text suggests it is up to the individual to make their own moral choices in life.
  9. The other world within this world – Some characters gain a glimpse of religious awakening.

Key Imagery

  1. Blood
  2. Water
  3. Fire
  4. Air
  5. Earth

Private Home Tutoring of English Not an On-Line Free Tutoring Service

I am NOT an on-line free tutoring service.  My resources on this website are for general use only.  I do not write student’s essays for them or give advice on essay prompts. However, for more intensive tutoring in a specific area of English, I will visit students in their own homes for private tutoring sessions that are paid on an hourly basis.



Text Response Essay Plan

Text Response Essay Plan in Preparation for a SAC or Exam 

In preparation for a text response essay as a SAC or an exam, it is crucial to create a plan.  Since the topic is not known until a student sits the SAC or exam, it should be expected that you understand the text back to front.

In planning for a text response essay, planning starts when you open the first page of that text

That first page opens a whole new world, and is the time to start preparing for that SAC and exam on which you will be assessed.  Here are a few of my tips on how to make the very most of your analysis by using detailed notes:

  • Background information – before reading a text, it is a good idea to find some background information that could be useful in connecting different concepts and ideas in the text.  Do a bit of personal research on the text and the author, and find out anything that may be useful for your essay.
  • Write summaries as you go – when reading the play, write down a summary for every chapter, scene or other distinct section of the text.  These can be paragraphs and sentences, dot points, etc.  Just make sure that you are able to easily recall and understand what has happened.  My tip is to mark up the text in your book with pages highlighted.  This makes it easier to go back to when you are putting your plan together for your essay.  It also lines up with the next point, on note taking.
  • Take any other notes as you go – if you come across something, or your teacher has pointed out something really important in the text; make a note of it on the page of the text in your book.  Or if you don’t want to write on your book, keep a section in your English work book for notes with page numbers referenced for future.  This exercise will be time consuming at first but incredibly helpful in your exam and SAC preparation.
  • Quotes, quotes, quotes – jot down any quotes that you think stand out in the text and what they mean.  If you are given quotes by your teacher, keep these handy.  When looking for quotes, find ones that show a character’s feelings, emotions, thoughts, etc, and those that are very thematic to the text.
  • Character analysis – with every key character, write some sort of short analysis on it.  Write about the character’s feelings, emotions, thoughts, events they were involved in, relationships with other characters and provide a few quotes to      provide evidence for these reasons.
  • Theme analysis – after reading a text, your teacher may give you the themes of the given text.  These are very important when writing up your essay.  With each theme, write a short synopsis explaining the theme and examples of it in the text.  Also, find about 3 or 4 quotes to accompany each theme.  Keep these with your notes.  If your teacher has not given you themes, ask about them because they are crucial in analysing your texts and writing essays that are relevant.
  • Review your notes – after reading the text, gather up what you have accumulated.  Make your notes relevant to how you learn.  If you are visual/spatial then draw a concept map, or diagram to show relationships between concepts in the text.  Also do a detailed character study and review your summaries.  It is important to make sure you know which events happen when, so then it will be easier to find quotes.  My tip is to draw a timeline and a character map showing the relationships between characters.
  • Review your notes again – now is a good time to create your essay plan if this is a SAC.  Simplify your notes to the limit given.  Take things that are only really important.  A good plan of handwritten notes would contain the key themes,      quotes (you should have lots of them by now, but use about 15-20 important      quotes, so you have a wide range), simplified character analysis and any other really important information.  Review this to check if it is OK, and then you are ready for that assessment.
  • Do a trial essay/s – if you would like more practice on essay writing under exam conditions, it would be a good idea to do a few sample essays.  This will help you familiarise yourself with the conditions, how you will go in the real SAC or exam and to get the form of the essay under control (as in intro, body paragraphs, conclusion, etc.) and keeping to the time limit.  Ask your teacher for some trial essay topics or research some for yourself looking at past exam papers in your school library or on the VCAA VCE website.

Now that you have a myriad of notes and a whole lot of practice and reviewing from reading one single text, you are more than ready to tackle that essay.  Stay focused 100% and you will do it in no time.

Finally, during reading time, choose your topic and how you will plan your essay:

  • Develop your contention
  • Create an ‘answer’ to the contention and include it in your introduction
  • Use your TEE essay plan for all paragraphs (topic sentence, explanation,      evidence)
  • Make sure all your explanations and evidence link to the contention
  • Conclude with the same answer to the contention, do not say something totally      different to what you said in the introduction

Private Home Tutoring of English Not an On-Line Free Tutoring Service

I am NOT an on-line free tutoring service.  My resources on this website are for general use only.  I do not write student’s essays for them or give advice on essay prompts. However, for more intensive tutoring in a specific area of English, I will visit students in their own homes for private tutoring sessions that are paid on an hourly basis.