Fishbone Diagram as Brainstorming for Persuasive Writing

 "Machili Jal Ki Rani Hai" Fish Poem Animated Hindi Nursery Poem Song for Children with Lyrics. "One of the famous kids songs depicting the story of fish and its life . Hindi Poems Hindi Poem Hindi rhymes 2D Rhymes 2D Rhymes 2D Rhymes English Education preschool SchoolWhat is a Fishbone Diagram?

A fishbone diagram, also called a cause and effect diagram or Ishikawa diagram (named after Dr. Kaoru Ishikawa who invented it) , is a visualization tool for categorizing the potential causes of a problem in order to identify its root causes.

Using a Fishbone Diagram in Brainstorming for Persuasive Writing

See my Post regarding the Process for a Persuasive Writing Essay.  I suggest using the fishbone diagram for brainstorming ideas.

The Fishbone Diagram Design

The design of the diagram looks much like a skeleton of a fish. Fishbone diagrams are typically worked right to left, with each large “bone” of the fish branching out to include smaller bones containing more detail.

Blank Fishbone Diagram Template Online Calendar Templates Example

What is Metalanguage in English?

What is Metalanguage in English?

This is a question many students ask.  They see it on criteria sheets for assessment tasks but never really understand the term or how it is used.

The Answer is:

Metalanguage in English is a language that describes language

One of the key skills required by students in VCE is using ‘appropriate metalanguage to discuss and analyse [your] own and others’ authorial choices’. Metalanguage is simply the words used to describe the language choices authors have made, and the choices you have made about your own writing.

I have put together a list of metalanguage terms with an explanation of each that you might find useful when asked to describe language used in your set texts.  Once you read through this list I am sure you will already know many of the terms mentioned below:

Allegory: Simply put, it’s a story in which the characters or  incidents symbolise key ideas that are usually ethical. Allegory is usually used to describe longer versions of the ‘fable’ form.

Ambiguity: Double meaning, often used deliberately by authors.

Antagonist: The character who sets himself or herself against the protagonist.

Anti-climax: A sudden ‘descent’ in excitement or effect, sometimes deliberately used by authors.

Audience: The intended readership for this piece of writing. Is it for an adult audience? A specialist audience who would understand the technical terms? A younger audience?

Author: The creator of a text.

Autobiography: The story of a person’s life, usually written by that same person. Sometimes you might talk of a story or novel having ‘autobiographical elements’ – pieces of personal history made into the creative work. Romulus My Father, is autobiographical.

Character: A person in a novel, short story or play.  Can be either major or minor characters.

Characterisation: The writer’s skill in creating realistic or effective sounding characters.

Cliché: An over-used or outworn phrase that has lost its effectiveness.

Climax: The point of greatest intensity in a narrative.

Context: The historical, social and cultural environment in which the narrative is set, such as a particular country during a war.

Counterplot: A sub-plot which contrasts with the main plot, often used to add meaning to the main plot.

Crisis Point: A point of significant conflict or tension.

Dialogue: Conversation between characters in a novel or story.

Dramatic conventions: Departures from reality which the audience is used to accepting when watching a play.

Epigraph: A short quote or statement, usually at the start of a book or chapter.

Epilogue: A short final section of a novel or play.

Fable: A short narrative in which some moral truth is shown through a story.

Figurative language: The opposite of literal language, figurative language is the language of imagination, and it makes demands of the reader to understand the meaning.

Flash-back:  A very common technique in film, but also in novels where the narrative returns suddenly to an earlier time in the story.

Form: The overall format of your piece of writing: short story, poem, blog entry, film script etc. Each form has a general set of expectations and conventions that have developed over time.

Genre: The ‘kind’ or ‘type’ of writing. The style within the form; ‘detective fiction’, ‘love poetry’. Genres often have certain conventions or expectations which you can follow, or sometimes break with, to great effect. Famous genres include the detective fiction genre, the romance genre and the gothic genre.

Idiom: The natural speech of the person being represented.

Imagery: Images are pictures in words, a common feature of poetry. Similes (‘the moon was sailing across the night sky like a balloon’) and metaphors (‘the moon was a balloon sailing across the night sky’) are typical of how images are constructed.

Indirect speech: The reporting, in a story or novel, of what someone else has said.

Irony: A figure of speech in which the meaning is the opposite of what is spoken.

Jargon: Technical or difficult language specific to a profession or sub-culture.

Metaphor: A figure of speech in which a comparison is made between two things by stating one as the other.

Monologue: A speech by one person in a play; think of Hamlet’s ‘To be or not to be’ speech.

Montage: A dramatic effect built up by a series of short scenes or impressions, often in apparently random order where the effect is more important than the content of each scene.

Narrative: Simply put: a story. The events occur in the order they appear.

Narrative perspective: The source of the story telling, the way the story is told.

Narrator: The person or ‘voice’ that tells the story.

Orientation: The moment at which the story begins.  For example a character has just made a discovery, or a shipwreck survivor has just made it to shore.

Person: The authorial perspective, first person ‘I’, second person ‘you’, or third person ‘she/he/they.

Personification: Giving human qualities to non-human objects such as animals, the sea, the wind, etc.

Plot: The framework of the story and the conscious arrangement of its events.

Point of view: Is this piece of writing told from a particular perspective or from the point of a view of a character with unique views of their own?

Prologue: Literally, a ‘before speech’, a short speech or introduction before the main story begins.

Prose: The opposite of poetry, prose is direct expression without rhyme and with no regular rhythm. Almost all novels are written in prose.

Protagonist: The main character in a narrative.

Pun: A play on words where a word is used in two senses.

Purpose: Often, this might be more about multiple purposes, but revolves around what this piece is trying to do: to persuade, to inform, to record and document, or to make the reader feel something specific?

Register: The variety and scope of language related to a specific type of communication setting, such as a formal register, or in the register of educational discourse.

Resolution: The section in which conflict is resolved.

Rhetorical Question: A question put for effect, that requires no answer, and expects none.

Setting: Where a novel or play takes place, often a real or historical place (the play A Man for All Seasons is set in historical England) but it may be imaginative (Nineteen Eighty- Four is set in an imaginary London of the future).

Stage direction: An instruction or explanation by the playwright as to how the play should be staged, but sometimes more than this to involve a description of the intended mood or a character’s feelings. Arthur Miller uses long and detailed stage directions in The Crucible.

Style: The overall direction and voice of the piece; how the writer says things. It might be in a ‘realistic’ style, an ‘exaggerated’ style, etc.

Structure: The way the elements of the text are arranged.  The text may happen chronologically, in parallel or move backwards and forward in time using flash-backs and/or flash-forwards.

Sub-plot: A minor or secondary story underneath the main story, very often paralleling the main story in some way.

Symbolism: The use of something simple and concrete to represent much more complex ideas or concepts. In Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, a glass paperweight comes to symbolize something about the beauty and fragility of the past.

Tense: Is the piece set in the past, present or future? Present tense might be something like, ‘I am walking along the beach. The sun is shining.’

Tone: The sound of a voice at specific moments in the piece of writing. Of course this will change through a piece, but if you are striving for a particular or specific tone at a particular point it might be worth saying so. You will also need to comment on the tone of a piece of writing in your language analysis tasks.

Theme: A major issue running through and explored by the text, such as friendship or growing up.

Tragedy: A representation, often in plays, of a human conflict ending in defeat and suffering, often due to some weakness or flaw in the character of the main tragic ‘hero’.

Turning Point: A point at which decisive change occurs.

Values: Qualities that the author and/or characters believe are important, such as loyalty and integrity.

Voice: The overall sound of the writing.

World View: The author’s overall view of the world as illustrated by the text.  For example the author may portray the world and human beings as doomed or capable of improvement or redemption.  In Girl with a Pearl Earring, the world view presented is that choices made in life when young often determine people’s future directions and that those choices can be limited by historical context, gender and class.

Use the list above for describing the metalanguage of novels and short stories and how the language constructs meaning for the reader in these texts.

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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.









Ransom by David Malouf

Synopsis of Ransom by David Malouf 


Ransom by David Malouf is derived from the final section of Homer’s The Iliad

Drawn from a section of the Ancient Greek poet Homer’s The Iliad, David Malouf’s poignant novel Ransom explores the themes of revenge, redemption and fate during the Trojan War.  The common theme of all Greek mythology concerns powerful gods, heroes, mythological creatures and humans. These myths have had major influences in art and culture, and even during modern society today with its teaching of our beginnings, history, morals and lessons for our daily lives.  While The Iliad is heavily focused on the gods and the battles fought amongst the people, Ransom explores a new avenue of human relationships through two main characters: Achilles, the greatest warrior and hero of the Trojan War and Priam, the elderly king of Troy who has lost his son in battle.

The Historical Action of Ransom

David Malouf structured the characters and events of Ransom during the 9th year of the legendary Trojan War in The Iliad (around 1100 BCE).  Where as-yet untold stories might emerge, Malouf created an inner life for his main characters Achilles and Priam that are not told in the Iliad.  The novel plays out over one full day and the following morning, although Malouf has allowed his characters flash-backs and flash-forwards that weave significant events into the narrative.  Ransom commences on the 12th day after the death of the Trojan hero Hector, son of Priam King of Troy who is slain by the famed Greek warrior Achilles in revenge for the death of his loved step-brother Patroclus.

The Human Action of Ransom

In Ransom both Priam and Achilles must face and overcome dilemmas.  Each questions the role he has been playing.  The narrative allows the characters to liberate themselves from a crisis of personal values and a loss of self-esteem, something quite different from the view of human action in The Iliad.   Malouf presents his main characters with moral and imaginative courage in choosing to act beyond the bounds of their normal roles.  Both Priam and Achilles come to a new understanding of what it means to be human.  Priam, dressed simply and with no weapons or crown, pleads with Achilles to release Hector’s body.  He appeals to his humanity and in doing so raises the question of what it means to be ‘human’.  Are the characters ruled by animal instincts, by the influence of the gods or by human reason and feeling?  A blend of all these facets suggests the permeable, open nature of human beings in the novel.

The Importance of Family Affection and Father-Son Relationships

Priam reminds Achilles of the importance of family affection and the closeness of father-son loyalty.  They are both fathers and sons before anything else.  They are also mortals where death is always present.  Priam begs Achilles “… as a father, and as one poor mortal to another – to accept the ransom I bring and give me back the body of my son” (p.182).  Priam wants Achilles to act as both their “… fathers and forefathers have done through all the ages” to show that they are in effect “men, children of the gods and not ravening beasts” (p.183).

Pity and Compassion

Even in the long, harsh war between the Trojans and Greeks, enduring human values emerge.  Malouf has allowed his main characters to express compassion and pity that we see goes beyond social class and political beliefs.  Priam pleads with Achilles as one human to another, since they all die in the end, he argues they should feel each other’s sorrows now and be compassionate.  He asks Achilles to think of his son Neoptolemus, and his father Peleus “Would you not do for him what I am doing here for Hector?  Would your father Peleus, not do the same for you?” (p.184).  Achilles’ personality is influenced by its origins.  We see this in flashbacks in the novel of Achilles expressing his love for his son and his father.  Priam has made Achilles contemplate Hector’s body and his own death with fresh respect.  In pitying Priam as a father, Achilles is reminded of his own son Neoptolemus and changes his view of Hector.  Achilles allows Priam to take the body of Hector in exchange for the ransom of gold in the wagon.  In a key moment between the warrior Achilles and the king Priam, their physical gesture of reconciliation is shown “Quietly, as they ate together, he and Achilles had discovered a kind of intimacy; wary at first, though also respectful” (p.198).

Taking a Chance – Choosing Action

The concept that humans have free will to act and should take opportunities as they come was foreign to the ancient Greeks, who believed that human life is governed by larger powers such as greater destiny or supernatural beings.  Malouf’s narrative allows each of these approaches to work in the story.  We see some of the characters decide to risk action and take a chance, yet they still accept the workings of fate and the interferences of the gods.  The novel invites the reader to ask questions about our own beliefs.  Should we believe in fate or chance?  How should a person decide?

Priam acts in an unexpected way to achieve a positive goal when he decides to follow chance rather than passive customs.  In doing so he must oppose those close to him who expect the king to always be predictable to “… follow convention, slip his arms into the sleeves of an empty garment and stand still”.  Instead Priam steps “… into a space that till now was uninhabited and found a way to fill it” (p.208-209).  He feels “bold” and “defiant” rather than passive and dismissive “sure of his decision” (p.49) to retrieve the body of his dead son Hector from the camp of his enemy Achilles.

Achilles’ reputation, well known throughout the territory, was capitalised by Patroclus to frighten the Trojans and inspire the Greeks to fight on.  Despite the years spent earning this reputation, this would not be what Achilles would be remembered for.  Malouf shows us the raw emotional side of Achilles with his grief for the death of Patroclus.  In fact by dragging the dead body of Hector each morning behind his chariot, Achilles “… breaks daily every rule [his men] … have been taught to live by.  Their only explanation is that he is mad” (p.29).  Achilles tells himself his “half-blind rage” is for Patroclus “But it is never enough.  That is what he feels.  That is what torments him” (p.33-34).  Releasing Hector’s body to Priam is his greatest challenge and act in the novel.  It is Achilles acceptance of his role as a hero-warrior that brings him peace in Part IV.

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.


A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Synopsis of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Set in the 1840s on Christmas Eve, A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens chronicles the personal transformation of the protagonist, Ebenezer Scrooge, the proprietor of a London counting house.  A wealthy, elderly man, Scrooge is considered miserly and misanthropic: he has no wife or children; he throws out two men collecting for charity; he bullies and underpays his loyal clerk, Bob Cratchit; and he dismisses the Christmas dinner invitation of his kind nephew, Fred.  Moreover, Scrooge is a strong supporter of the Poor Law of 1834, which allowed the poor to be interned in workhouses.

As he prepares for bed on Christmas Eve in his solitary, dark chambers, Scrooge is visited by the ghost of his former partner, Jacob Marley.  In life Marley was very similar in attitude and temperament to Scrooge: remote, cruel, and parsimonious.  In death he has learned the value of compassion and warns Scrooge to reform his ways before it is too late.  Marley announces that Scrooge will be visited by three more specters: the Spirits of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come.

The Ghost of Christmas Past takes Scrooge back to his unhappy childhood, revealing that the young boy’s experiences with poverty and abandonment inspired a desire to succeed and gain material advantage.  Unfortunately, Scrooge’s burgeoning ambition and greed destroyed his relationship with his fiancée and his friends.

The Ghost of Christmas Present is represented by a hearty, genial man who reminds Scrooge of the joy of human companionship, which he has rejected in favor of his misanthropic existence.

Finally, the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come appears in a dark robe and shrouded in mystery.  Silently, the ghost reveals the ambivalent reaction to news of Scrooge’s own death. Scrooge realizes that he will die alone and without love, and that he has the power and money to help those around him – especially Bob Cratchit’s ailing son, Tiny Tim.  Scrooge begs the ghost for another chance and wakes in his bed on Christmas morning, resolved to changing his life by being generous and loving to his family, employees, and the poor.

Classifying A Christmas Carol

For some readers A Christmas Carol resonates as a gothic ghost story, at times chilling and terrifying and at other times, extremely funny.  Other readers see the story as a time travel narrative.  Dickens in effect blended realism and the supernatural to create a world in which the gothic and the mundane sit side by side.  Dickens himself said he was here taking old nursery tales and “giving them a higher form” (Stone, Harry 1999, ‘A Christmas Carol: Giving Nursery Tales a Higher Form’).  With its dark, chilly setting and its supernatural visitors, A Christmas Carol draws on elements of the gothic novel when Scrooge’s door-knocker turns into Jacob Marley’s face.  The narrator provides a number of descriptions in which gothic elements are interwoven with freezing, icy imagery to emphasise the atmosphere of mystery and to remind us of the protagonist’s icy heart.

A Christmas Carol as a Cultural Myth

According to Juliet John, A Christmas Carol has become a “cultural myth” providing “a parable for the modern, commercial age” (John, Juliet 2011, ‘Dickens and Mass Culture’).  As a morality tale, in which evil is exposed, virtuous characters like the Cratchits are rewarded, and everyone celebrates at the conclusion.  However, there are issues raised in A Christmas Carol that remain unresolved at the conclusion of the novel. The sinister children of Want and Ignorance, do not go away just because Scrooge has been reformed, but the narrator tells us nothing of their future.  Their role is more allegorical than that of other characters. Dickens uses them as an important warning to his readers and to Scrooge as the frighteningly ugly face of 19th century poverty.  Unless social reform takes place urgently, Want and Ignorance will grow into hungry, resentful predators.  The fact that Dickens even raised the issue of the miserable lives of street children at all marks an important attempt by him to make his readers ponder their own social responsibilities.

Historical Context of A Christmas Carol 

While A Christmas Carol is primarily received as a ghost story, it is also a damning expose of social inequality in 1840’s Britain.  Dickens was deeply agitated by what he perceived as the inertia of the British government and wealthy middle classes to help those less fortunate than themselves.  A Christmas Carol was written at the beginning of the ‘Hungry Forties’ a period that encompassed the catastrophic Irish potato famine, as well as intense suffering for the English working classes.  Dickens uses A Christmas Carol to not only attack the Utilitarian philosophy of Jeremy Bentham, who justified the centralisation of Poor Relief in workhouses, but also to lambast the work of Thomas Malthus in his Essay on the Principle of Population.  Whilst in abstract these principles might seem logical, when applied to suffering individuals, their underlying brutality becomes obvious.

Ebenezer Scrooge

For most readers Scrooge represents the worst charactertistics of his society.  Fixated with material goods at the expense of all human connection, particularly with his clerk Bob Cratchit, Scrooge is an allegorical embodiment of the forces of capitalism underpinning Britian’s economy in the 1840’s.  For Dickens, he represented everything that was wrong with society in an increasingly industrialised world where human relations took second place to profits.

Dualism in Dicken’s Writing

The world of the early Dickens is organized according to a dualism which is based in its artistic derivation on the values of melodrama: there are bad people and there are good people, there are comics and there are characters played straight. The only complexity of which Dickens is capable is to make one of his noxious characters become wholesome, one of his clowns turn out to be a serious person. The most conspicuous example of this process is the reform of Scrooge in A Christmas Carol shows the phenomenon in its purest form.

We have come to take Scrooge so much for granted that he seems practically a piece of Christmas folklore; we no more inquire seriously into the mechanics of his transformation than we do into the transformation of the Beast into the young prince that marries Beauty in the fairy tale. Yet Scrooge represents a principle fundamental to the dynamics of Dickens’ world and derived from his own emotional constitution – though the story, of course, owes its power to the fact that most of us feel ourselves capable of the extremes of both malignity and benevolence.

Redemption in A Christmas Carol 

Can A Christmas Carol be seen as a tale about redemption in a man who has ostracized himself from his society?  While the narrative is focused on Ebenezer Scrooge’s learning experiences and his reintegration into the community, his story also forms part of a broader allegory through which Dickens invites his readers to consider Christmas as a time of renewal and hope and to think about how they themselves might redeem and be redeemed.

The ‘Scrooge Problem’ – the Questioning of Scrooge’s Transformation

Elliot L. Gilbert’s essay: ‘The Ceremony of Innocence: Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol’ addresses ‘the Scrooge problem’, that is, the critical tradition of questioning the sincerity of Scrooge’s sudden transformation from being mean-spirited to kind-hearted.  Gilbert admits that his support for Scrooge’s change of heart is not free from doubt, as similarly to House and Johnston, he feels that the ease of Scrooge’s alteration is questionable. Furthermore, to accept the overnight metamorphosis of a man who has spent a lifetime bullying clerks, revelling in misanthropy and grinding the faces of the poor, is ‘to deny all that life teaches in favour of sentimental wishful thinking.’

Gilbert’s essay provides a new hypotheses to explain the reader’s misgivings regarding the plausibility of Scrooge’s radical conversion; he is merely returning to his childhood innocence. He explains why he views A Christmas Carol to be metaphysical; it is because it portrays the journey of a human being trying to rediscover his own childhood innocence. Such innocence Gilbert claims is evident in Scrooge’s encounter with the ghost of Christmas past, when Dickens has Scrooge’s fiancé break off their engagement, because the man she sees before her is not the man she first knew. Here, he reveals that Scrooge was not always bitter and mercenary, and therefore not so different from the man we are shown at the end of the novel. Thus, Scrooge’s new self is believable as it is in part his old self.

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.


Persuasive Writing Sentence Openers and Connectives for Primary Level

Why use sentence openers and connectives that persuade when writing persuasive language texts at Primary Level?

It is important to use sequence words and phrases as sentence openers and connectives that persuade when writing persuasive language texts at primary level to link or connect your sentences, ideas and whole paragraphs together.  Connectives (linking words) should be carefully chosen in persuasive writing to make sure your paragraphs are linked logically.

Below is a table of persuasive writing sentence openers and connectives that you can use for primary level English:

Persuasive Writing Sentence Openers: Sequence Words and Phrases: In the first place…, Secondly…, Also…,


In conclusion

Persuasive Writing Sentence Openers That Persuade:

The fact is…,

Most agree that…,

One reason is…,

It is important to…,


It would be better if…,  

Another reason is…


Persuasive Writing Connectives that   Persuade: Connectives on Emphasis: clearly, above all, especially,


in fact,




more important(ly),

of course,




 Connectives on Opinion:

it would seem,

it appears,


on the strength of,

some people believe,

 in   my opinion,

on the other hand,


even so,

despite this

 Connectives that Illustrate:

for example,

for instance,

such as,

in other words,

as shown by,

to show that,

this can be seen in,

except for,


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.


Persuasive Language Texts for Primary Level

What are Persuasive Language Texts for Primary Level?

Persuasive language texts used at primary level are also called ‘exposition texts’ (a commonly used term in Naplan Tests).  These persuasive language texts are written for the purpose of presenting a point of view in favour or against a specific topic.  The ultimate aim is to try to convince the reader to agree with your opinion, or take a certain course of action, by giving reasons and examples to support your ideas.

Persuasive Language Texts:

  • are emotive
  • are biased
  • sound authoritative

Persuasive Language Texts Structure:

  1. Introduction = includes a statement to give the author’s opinion / preview important arguments / engage the reader’s attention
  2. Body = includes a series of paragraphs / gives a new idea or argument with reasons and examples to support it in each paragraph / uses persuasive language / uses quoted or reported speech / uses cohesive language to link ideas between paragraphs
  3. Conclusion = restates the position of the writer / sums up the main arguments / includes request action to be taken by the reader / does not give any new information

Persuasive Language Texts for Primary Level Writing Plan

Use this persuasive language writing plan when brainstorming ideas for your topic.  Remember that each new paragraph should be a new idea / argument with reasons and examples to support it.

1 Persuasive Writing Topic
2 Your Title of the Piece =  based on how you are arguing either for or against the topic
3 Introduction of your Opinion = your main opinion (contention) why you are either for or against the topic
4 1st Main Idea = including first supporting reason and evidence of one point of view
5 2nd Main Idea = including supporting reason and evidence of another point of view
6 3rd Main Idea = including supporting reason and evidence of another point of view
7 Conclusion = that restates your main opinion

 When brainstorming for your persuasive language contention, think about:

  • what is your point of view on the persuasive language topic?
  • what are your arguments, either for or against the topic with reasons and examples to explain them?
  • planning your writing to make sure you clearly state what you think about the topic
  • writing your introduction that clearly sets out your opinion
  • remember you are writing to persuade a reader to agree with your own opinions
  • writing sentences that stay on the topic and are relevant
  • starting each new idea in a new paragraph
  • writing a conclusion to give your summary of the main points and final comment on your opinion
  • remember to check your spelling and edit your writing when you are finished

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.



Adjective Word Bank for Creative Writing

Why Use an Adjective Word Bank for Creative Writing?

An Adjective Word Bank is especially useful to help you build a more advanced vocabulary for creative writing tasks.  Teachers are always looking to boost the vocabulary of their students, and by learning new adjectives, students can become more effective writers and speakers.

List of Adjectives for your Word Bank

Below is a short adjective word bank that can get you started on your way to building your own adjective list.  These words can be used to describe feelings and appearances of objects and can make it easy to describe yourself, your surroundings, and your favourite things.  You can use this list to build your own adjective word bank, adding words you like and removing words you do not, replacing them with even more descriptive words.  By keeping this adjective word bank list on your desk as you write, you can refer to it and learn to add more descriptive words into your writing.

adorable adventurous aggressive agreeable
alive amused angry alert
annoying anxious arrogant ashamed
attractive average awful bad
beautiful better bewildered black
bloody blue blue-eyed blushing
bored brainy brave breakable
bright busy calm careful
cautious charming cheerful clean
clear clever cloudy clumsy
colourful combative comfortable concerned
condemned confused cooperative courageous
crazy creepy crowded cruel
curious cute dangerous dark
dead defeated defiant delightful
depressed determined different difficult
disgusted distinct disturbed dizzy
doubtful drab dull eager
easy elated elegant embarrassed
enchanting encouraging energetic enthusiastic
envious evil excited expensive
exuberant fair faithful famous
fancy fantastic fierce filthy
fine foolish fragile frail
frantic friendly frightened funny
gentle gifted glamorous gleaming
glorious good gorgeous graceful
grieving grotesque grumpy handsome
happy healthy helpful helpless
hilarious homeless homely horrible
hungry hurt ill important
impossible inexpensive innocent inquisitive
itchy jealous jittery jolly
joyous kind lazy light
lively lonely long lovely
lucky magnificent misty modern
motionless muddy mushy mysterious
nasty naughty nervous nice
nutty obedient obnoxious odd
old-fashioned open outrageous outstanding
panicky perfect plain pleasant
poised poor powerful precious
prickly proud puzzled quaint
real relieved repulsive rich
scary selfish shiny shy
silly sleepy smiling smoggy
sore sparkling splendid spotless
stormy strange stupid successful
super talented tame tender
tense terrible testy thankful
thoughtful thoughtless tired tough
troubled ugliest ugly uninterested
unsightly unusual upset uptight
vast victorious vivacious wandering
weary wicked wide-eyed wild
witty worrisome worried wrong
zany zealous

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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.



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.


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.



Historical Context of Macbeth

Macbeth was written in 1606 by popular English playright William Shakespeare.  It is believed to have been performed during the reign of King James 1 as the play reflects James 1 interests and obsessions.  Politically the play has marked relevance to the reign of James 1 as it is about treason and the betrayal of a legitimate monarch.

Shakespearean Drama is Multi-Dimensional

Macbeth can be seen and taken in many ways and many levels.  It seems a simple story with a moral that crime does not pay, the goodies win in the end.  It can also be seen as a thriller with evil at every turn. The witches assist the audience in displaying the idea that the play has supernatural evil in it.  They are malicious, gossipying and spreading rumours and yet terrifying because we consider that there might be a supernatural consciousness within the play.  All the imagery of darkness has a subliminal point.  This dark play dramatises the wilful disrupting of harmony and paints a bleak picture of what happens when that is undone.  Disorder, and its political equivalent, tyranny, can only lead to suffering and unhappiness.  In Macbeth, the nightmare continues until the evil-doer who has disordered nature is despatched.  Then harmony is restored.

The Divine Right of Kings, Order versus Disorder and the Chaos Theory

As a classical drama the play has a strong moral element to it.  The natural order in the play is broken by Macbeth’s actions.  Elizabethans believed that God alone was responsible for the appointment of a person to kingship.  Therefore any attempt to remove a king was a crime against human nature and a crime against God that would result in chaos.  Killing a good king and usurping his throne throws up the forces of darkness and disorder.  Macbeth breaks the cosmic pattern and unnatural acts follow.  Elizabethans believed also that disorder and chaos were symbols of evil so that the order of the universe is disrupted by evil deeds (Act 2.4:10-13).  The doctor says of Lady Macbeth’s illness ‘Unnatural deeds / Do breed unnatural troubles’ (Act 4.2:75).

Genre, Structure and Style of Macbeth

Macbeth is an Elizabethan tragedy in 5 acts written in blank verse.  Generally the most important note in approaching Macbeth is that it is a tragedy.  Macbeth is set in the wild Scottish Highlands.  The murders occur at night and often during storms.  The witches are found on a barren, wind-swept heath (moorland).

The main conventions Elizabethan audiences expected in a play was:

  • 5 acts with little or no scenery
  • themes such as love, jealousy, greed, ambition, the divine right of kings and the supernatural
  • noble characters (using blank verse) and submissive characters (using prose)
  • lots of conflict
  • chaos, sword fighting and possible deaths
  • resolution of conflict and re-establishment of the order at the end of the play

The main conventions / perspectives of Macbeth are similar to the conventions expected by Elizabethan audiences:

  • Macbeth butchers an old king (Duncan) in his sleep, murders 2 servants, orders assassinations of the wife and child of his enemy and is still seen as a tragic hero
  • How did Shakespeare make Macbeth a tragic hero?  He did so by giving Macbeth a conscience and making him suffer guilt
  • Macbeth is an exploration of ambition and evil
  • The protagonist, Macbeth is not alone in his fatal ambition.  Lady Macbeth is equally to blame
  • Are the supernatural powers responsible for Macbeth’s fate?

Language of Macbeth

Shakespeare’s language is complex and rich in colour and meaning.  Shakespeare used dramatic irony in Macbeth where one scene, event or line contrasts sharply with another.  For example Duncan’s line “he was a gentleman on whom I built an absolute trust” is immediately followed by the stage direction ‘Enter Macbeth’ (Act 1.4:13-14).  The audience has only moments ago seen Macbeth thinking of murdering Duncan.

Shakespeare also uses verbal irony (that is saying one thing but meaning another).  For example when Macbeth says to Banquo “Fail not our feast” (Act 3.1:29), knowing that Banquo will never arrive, because he will be murdered by Macbeth’s hired killers.  The audience already knows this but Banquo does not.

 The Plot of Macbeth Simplified

  1. Witches’ prophesy
  2. Macbeth and Banquo return from battle – witches’ prophesy
  3. Duncan murdered
  4. Malcolm flees
  5. Banquo murdered
  6. Fleance flees
  7. Dinner party – Banquo’s ghost
  8. Witches’ prophesy
  9. Macduff’s wife and children murdered
  10. Malcolm and Macduff raise army
  11. Lady Macbeth descends into madness
  12. Camouflage in ‘woods of Birnam’
  13. Lady Macbeth suicides
  14. Macbeth is slain by Macduff

Themes of Macbeth

  1. Ambition: The main theme being central to the play is Macbeth’s ‘vaulting ambition’ that leads him to murder and his own self-destruction. Macbeth says he possesses “Vaulting ambition, which o’erleaps itself / And falls on the other (Act I, Scene 7).  While Macbeth is a Scottish general who is not inclined to commit evil deeds, he deeply desires power and advancement.  He kills Duncan against his better judgment and afterward stews in guilt and paranoia.  Toward the end of the play he descends into a kind of frantic, boastful madness.  The real driving force behind Macbeth’s ambition is Lady Macbeth.  She pursues her goals with great determination as she urges Macbeth on to murder Duncan.  Yet she is less capable of withstanding the repercussions of her immoral acts.  The problem, the play suggests, is that once one decides to use violence to further one’s quest for power, it is difficult to stop.
  2. The Tragedy of Pride: Linked with ambition above.  In all Greek tragedies the hero is a person whose basic nature is good, but who, through some fatal flaw, falls from his state of grace.  The most common of these tragic flaws in classical literature was pride.  Macbeth represents the terrible temptation of taking advantage of someone else for gain, commiting a wrong act simply because it suits him.  Macbeth understands at the end that what he has done is wrong and it has ruined him.
  3. Good versus Evil and Supernatural: Macbeth depicts the dark side of human life with a profound vision of evil.  The supernatural theme enables evil to be explored via the witches and shown in Lady Macbeth when she calls on the dark forces to help her (Act 1.5:36-52).  Darkness permeates the play with the greater part of the action taking place in the murk of night.  We see a man (Macbeth) who conceives a goal (killing the king and seizing the throne), and who decides to pursue that goal at the expense of all other considerations. By seeing his own desire for power as the only thing of significance and abandoning notions of loyalty, legality and pity, he moves from humanity (the person he was at the outset of the play), to what he implies with his metaphor of ‘bear-like’, an animal, and what Malcolm eventually calls a ‘butcher’.  We can take the essence of the play to heart ie. the nature of evil and its fatal consequences, not only for the evil-doer but for all those whom he affects.
  4. The Corruption of Power Unchecked and ‘Kingly Virtues’:  Malcolm describes what a ruler ought to be “The king-becoming graces / As justice, verity [truth], temp’rance, stableness / Bounty [generosity], perserverance, mercy, lowliness / Devotion, patience, courage, fortitude …”  This scene establishes what are the desirable qualities of good leaders but in the play Macbeth represents all that a ruler should not be.  Macbeth’s nature is clearly defined as his selfish desire to ‘climb up’ and take what is not rightfully his by any means, an immoral motive that brings him down.  In contrast, the ‘good’ kings are seen to be motivated by nobility of mind and loyalty to their people.
  5. The Relationship between Cruelty and Masculinity: Characters in Macbeth frequently dwell on issues of gender.  Lady Macbeth manipulates her husband by questioning his manhood equating masculinity with naked aggression.  The problem of misogyny centres on two damning portraits of feminine evil – Lady Macbeth and the witches.  Can Macbeth be excused of his wrong decisions because he was seduced into evil by women?  The aggression of the female characters in the play is striking because it goes against prevailing expectations of how women ought to behave.  Lady Macbeth’s behaviour certainly shows that women can be as ambitious and cruel as men.

Motifs of Macbeth

  1. Hallucinations: Visions and hallucinations recur throughout the play and serve as reminders of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth’s joint culpability for the growing body count.  When he is about to kill Duncan, Macbeth sees a dagger floating in the air.  Covered with blood and pointed toward the king’s chamber, the dagger represents the bloody course on which Macbeth is about to embark.  Later, he sees Banquo’s ghost sitting in a chair at a feast, pricking his conscience by mutely reminding him that he murdered his former friend.  The seemingly hardheaded Lady Macbeth also eventually gives way to visions, as she sleepwalks and believes that her hands are stained with blood that cannot be washed away by any amount of water.  In each case, it is ambiguous whether the vision is real or purely hallucinatory; but, in both cases, the Macbeths read them uniformly as supernautural signs of their guilt.
  2. Violence: Macbeth is a famously violent play.  Interestingly, most of the killings take place offstage, but throughout the play the characters provide the audience with gory descriptions of the carnage, from the opening scene where the captain describes Macbeth and Banquo wading in blood on the battlefield, to the endless references to the bloodstained hands of Macbeth and his wife.  The action is bookended by a pair of bloody battles: in the first, Macbeth defeats the invaders, in the second, he is slain and beheaded by Macduff.  In between is a series of murders: Duncan, Duncan’s chamberlains, Banquo, Lady Macduff and Macduff’s son all come to bloody ends.  By the end of the action, blood seems to be everywhere.
  3. Prophecy: Prophecy sets Macbeth’s plot in motion – namely, the witches’ prophecy that Macbeth will become first thane of Cawdor and then King.  The weird sisters make a number of other prophecies: they tell us that Banquo’s heirs will be kings, that macbeth should beware Macduff, that Macbeth is safe till Birnam Wood comes to Dunsinane, and that no man born of woman can harm Macbeth.  Save for the prophecy about Banquo’s heirs, all of these predictions are fulfilled within the course of the play.  Still, it is left deliberately ambigous whether some of them are self-fulfilling – for example, whether Macbeth wills himself to be king or is fated to be king.  Additionally, as the Birnam Wood and “born of woman” prophecies make clear, the prophecies must be interpreted as riddles, since they do not always mean what they seem to mean.

Symbols of Macbeth

  1. Blood: Blood is everywhere in Macbeth, beginning with the opening battle between the Scots and the Norwegian invaders, which is described in harrowing terms by the wounded captain in Act 1, scene 2.  Once Macbeth and Lady Macbeth embark upon their murderous journey, blood comes to symbolise their guilt, and they begin to feel that their crimes have stained them in a way that cannot be washed clean.  “Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood / Clean from my hand?”  Macbeth cries after he has killed Duncan, even as his wife scolds him and says that a little water will do the job.  Later, though, she comes to share his horrified sense of being stained “Out, damned spot; out, I say … who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him?”  she asks as she wanders through the halls of their castle near the close of the play.  Blood symbolises the guilt that sits like a permanent stain on the consciences of both Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, one that hounds them to their graves.
  2. The Weather: As in other Shakespearean tragedies, Macbeth’s grotesque murder spree is accompanied by a number of unnatural occurrences in the natural realm.  From the thunder and lightening that accompany the witches’ appearances to the terrible storms that rage on the night of Duncan’s murder, these violations of the natural order reflect corruption in the moral and political orders.

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.