Suspense Writing Explained

This Resource is for students from Years 7-10 studying English and need to develop some creative skills in writing stories.  Suspense writing is one option you should consider to help you get A+ for English.

Writing 101: How to Create Suspense in 5 Exciting Steps

What makes a story a page-turner, exciting from the first page?

A truly suspenseful book, short story, novella or other literary work is much like a theatrical performance.  Just as a well-written and superbly acted drama keeps the audience on the edge of their seats until the curtain call, a suspense filled thriller should captivate the reader until the final word.

When you think about the last story you read that seemed to grab you by the throat and not let go, what exactly made it gripping?

Horror film - Wikipedia

Did you feel the excitement from the first page?  Were the characters captivating?  Was it the heart pounding events that took place?  More than likely it was all of these things combined that made the story exciting.

I always judge a book by how late I stay up to find out what happens next.  If I’m still wide awake at two in the morning, that’s a fantastic book.  So, how do you keep your readers up to the wee hours of the morning?  You have to get them hooked.

What Makes Us Keep Reading a Good Book?

  1. definitely the characters count for me, if I don’t like them then I don’t care what happens to them in the book
  2. the book proposes questions that need to be answered with a hook that doesn’t let go
  3. basically a mystery that drives me to find out the ending
  4.  emotional intensity between being scared out of my wits to heart-broken

To make a suspenseful piece of work you need to use many techniques from playwriting

If you think of the most famous playwright, William Shakespeare, he understood the necessity to build up to a suspenseful climax by feeding his audience tidbits of information during the first and second acts of his plays.  He would then finish his dramatic theatric piece by using the most emotionally-intense scene with the climax in the third act.

Making Your Characters Real

In any great play, there are characters with whom the audience can relate.  Whether they are lovable or loathsome, viewers find some speck of familiarity or general humanity within them.  This keeps the audience actively engaged. When you are writing your short story or novel, if your readers don’t like the people who populate the book, then they will not care less what happens to them.

So there is one really important point, you must give the readers a character that is fleshed-out and real so the readers can care about them

By making the readers care, you give them a reason to go on with the story and to find out what happens to this person you have created.  The wanting to know keeps them reading.

The Setting Must Make Sense

Just as your characters must be realistic in your story’s world, so must your setting seem to make sense.  Your readers must be able to see the universe through the narrator’s eyes, smell the odours, and hear the sounds.  Without solid descriptions, your readers cannot become entangled enough in your work to truly enjoy the roller coaster of suspense.  Take nothing for granted, tell your readers the setting and don’t assume that the reader understands your fictional world as well as you do.

The Plot Must Be Logical Not Impossible to Follow

It is difficult to build suspense if your plot is impossible to follow.  Like a stage play, your plot must have some kind of logic to it.  If it doesn’t, your readers might be too distracted by the complicated plotline to become involved in the suspense.  It is more critical to tell the most important steps your characters have taken rather than describing every movement.  Nothing spoils suspense for a reader like having to flip the pages of the book wondering, “Did I miss something?”

Build up to a Suspenseful Climax within your Fiction

Don’t spring a suspenseful moment on the reader without some kind of foreshadowing.  It is a good idea not to start your work with an emtionally-intense scene.  As in a drama, work your way up to a suspenseful peak.  If you just keep hitting your readers with suspenseful moments without any context, you will only leave your audience perplexed, rather than engaged in the suspense.

Can you think of the last book you read that deeply affected you?

Emotionally charged books by Monica McInerney affect me.  Many times I have shed a few tears along with the characters and laughed with them too.  What was it that caused this effect?  I know for me, it was the characters, their believability.  However, it is really a combination of many things – characters, timing, plot and believability.  A good idea is to re-read a book or story that had a strong effect on you.  See if you can figure out how the author accomplished this.  Pay attention to the different techniques the author used.

The Gathering by Isobelle Carmody

The Gathering (Carmody novel) - Wikipedia

So many different techniques go into a suspenseful book.  One of the most suspenseful and horribly graphic books I have read that affected me was The Gathering by Isobelle Carmody.  I had to teach an excerpt from this book to a Year 10 Class.  The section we were reading was very descriptive, horrific in its nature, intense and suspense filled.  It affected me so much that I had to put the book down and walk away from it for a while to gather my thoughts before I could write up my lesson plan for class.  If you have read The Gathering, then you will know the part I am referring to: chapter 26, pages 212-215  where Nathanial’s dog is burnt alive.

Carmody’s language techniques captivated and terrorised all at the same time

What I realised is that Isobelle Carmody crafted such a brilliant novel with clever use of language forms, features and structure that I was spellbound, captivated and terrorised all at the same time.  The suspense is created by development of the mood from normal to foreboding and fear.  The build up of terror is emphasised by Nathanial’s frantic attempts to get free from the boys holding him.  Buddha is so evil he has poured petrol on Nathanial’s dog Tod.  When the match is lit we know something horrible is about to happen.  Is there some hope that Tod will survive?  The end result is emotionally and physically shocking.  Carmody achieved what she set out to do.

All Resources created by Online Tutoring using Zoom for Years 11 and 12 VCE Mainstream English Students in the Victorian Curriculum

‘Animal Farm’ by George Orwell is an Allegory

See the source image

What is an Allegory?

An Allegory is a narrative that can be read on more than one level. Allegories are generally understood as rhetorical, and as a form of rhetoric, are designed to persuade their audience.  George Orwell’s Animal Farm is an example of this rhetorical device; as an allegory it extends its representation over the course of the entire novel.

How is this Story Allegorical?

As an allegorical tale about the dangers of tyranny, Animal Farm uses the story of Napoleon, Snowball and Boxer as a form of rhetoric.  In this novel Orwell is using the story of Manor Farm’s animal rebellion to caution people against the encroachment of tyranny.

‘Animal Farm’ Characters as an Allegory of the Russian Revolution

See the source image

Critics often consider Animal Farm to be an allegory of the Russian Revolution matching in great details the story’s characters to historical persons.  For example, linking the power struggle between Napoleon and Snowball to the historical feuding between Joseph Stalin and Leon Trotsky for control of the Soviet Union.  Old Major represents Karl Marx who dies before realising his dream.  Other comparisons include Moses as the Russian Orthodox Church, Boxer and Clover as workers, the sheep as the general public, Squealer as Stalin’s government news agency, the dogs as Stalin’s military police and Farmer Jones as Czar Nicholas II.  The farm’s neighbours, Pilkington and Frederick are said to represent Great Britain and Germany.  While Mollie suggests the old Russian aristocracy, which resists change.

What did George Orwell Believe Animal Farm Represented & Message of Author?

George Orwell wrote in the first edition of Animal Farm in 1945 that his novel: ‘… is the history of a revolution that went wrong and of the excellent excuses that were forthcoming at every step for the perversion of the original doctrine’.

While the animals in the story originally create an equal society, the pigs in charge, namely Napoleon, use their power to oppress the other animals, especially through propaganda and fear.

Orwell ‘s main message in Animal Farm is that power corrupts, even when idealism is at play.

George Orwell uses Satire to expose what he saw as the Myth of Soviet Socialism

In a Satire, the writer attacks a serious issue by presenting it in a ridiculous light or otherwise poking fun at it.  Orwell uses satire in his novel Animal Farm to expose what he saw as the myth of Soviet socialism.  Thus, the novel tells a story that people of all ages can understand, but it also tells us a second story – that of the real-life Revolution.

Background to the Russian Revolution

See the source image

Many of the events of Manor Farm in Orwell’s Animal Farm are closely linked to political events in Russia during the first half of the 20th century. In the early 1900’s, Russia’s Czar Nicholas II faced an increasingly discontented populace.  Freed from feudal serfdom in 1861, many Russian peasants were struggling to survive under an oppressive government.  By 1917, amidst the tremendous suffering of World War I, a revolution began.  In two major battles, the Czar’s government was overthrown and replaced by the Bolshevik leadership of Vladmir Lenin.  When Lenin died in 1924, his former colleagues Leon Trotsky, hero of the early Revolution, and Joseph Stalin, head of the Communist Party, struggled for power.  Stalin won the battle, and he deported Trotsky into permanent exile.

Once in power, Stalin began, with despotic urgency and exalted nationalism, to move the Soviet Union into the modern industrial age.  His government seized land in order to create collective farms.  Stalin’s Five Year Plan was an attempt to modernize Soviet industry.  To counter resistance (many peasants refused to give up their land), Stalin used vicious military tactics.  Rigged trials led to executions of an estimated 20 million government officials and ordinary citizens.  The government controlled the flow and content of information to the people, and all but outlawed churches.

‘Animal Farm’ is the Story of an Animal Revolution

See the source image

The animal residents of Manor Farm, spurred on by the dream of the pig, Old Major decide they will change their “miserable, laborious, and short” lives.  They overthrow Mr Jones, their master, and take over the management of the farm.  Rather than living under the heel of their human master, the animals of Manor Farm decide they will take control of the products of their labour, working for the good of the farm and other animals, rather than for the good of humans.

Tyranny by any other Name

George Orwell’s Animal Farm and his other novel 1984, are often cited as works that are designed to show the weaknesses of Communism.  These works took aim at the Soviet Union, however Orwell’s larger target was tyranny, in whatever form it appeared.  He was as much concerned with the repression of rights and the injustice of the economic system in his own England as he was about Stalinist Russia.

George Orwell’s 1945 novel Animal Farm is an allegorical indictment of tyranny which utilises the historical events and players of the Russian Revolution and the subsequent rise of Stalin as a cautionary tale of how power corrupts.

All Resources are created by Private Online Tutoring of Mainstream English using Zoom

‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ by Harper Lee : A Brief Synopsis

To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is a Worthy Recipient of the Pulitzer Prize in 1961

Author of To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee, in local coutrhouse while visting her home town.

Novelist Harper Lee

It does not matter how many times I teach To Kill a Mockingbird to Years 7-10 English students, I find a deeper understanding of Harper Lee’s beautiful novel each time I read it.  What’s not to love about this amazing novel?

It’s a story about a man wrongly accused of rape and a lawyer who confronts racial prejudice to defend him in a small Alabama town riddled with the poverty and racial tensions of the American South in 1935.  Yet when you look deeper it also chronicles the journey of its characters to do what is right, no matter what humiliation or consequences plagued them.

The Moral Courage in To Kill a Mockingbird

American actor Gregory Peck, as Atticus Finch, stands in a courtroom in a scene from director Robert Mulligan's film, 'To Kill A Mockingbird,' 1962....

By observing her father, Scout gradually discovers that moral courage is both more complicated and more difficult to enact than the physical courage most familiar and understandable to children.  To Kill a Mockingbird reveals the heroic nature of acting with moral courage when adhering to social mores would be far less dangerous.  At a time in the South when it was outrageous and practically unthinkable for a white person to look at the world from a minority’s perspective, Harper Lee has Atticus explain to Scout: “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view—until you climb into his skin and walk around in it”.  For Atticus Finch, climbing into someone’s skin and walking around in it represents true courage.  This would have to be my all time favourite quote.

Focus on the Trial of Tom Robinson with Atticus Finch as the Lawyer

To Kill A Mockingbird

The novel focuses on the Finch family over the course of two years, lawyer and father Atticus Finch; his ten-year-old son, Jem; and his six-year-old daughter, Scout (whose real name is Jean Louise).  Scout serves as the narrator of the book.  Her narration is based on her memories of the events leading up to, during, and after her father’s defence of a black man, Tom Robinson, accused of raping a white woman, Mayella Ewell.  Through Scout’s inexperienced eyes (she is only eight at the conclusion of the novel), the reader encounters a world where people are judged by their race, inherited ideas of right and wrong dominate, and justice does not always prevail.  However, by observing Atticus Finch’s responses to the threats and gibes of the anti-Tom Robinson faction and his sensitive treatment towards Tom Robinson and his family and friends, the reader, again through Scout’s eyes, discovers what it means to behave morally.  In fact, do the right thing in the face of tremendous social pressure.

 What I Love About To Kill a Mockingbird is the Other Side to Scout

To Kill A Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird also chronicles the journey of a girl who challenges gender stereotypes in her determination to remain a tomboy.  Harper Lee clearly explores Scout’s unconventional female characteristics.  Aunt Alexandra tells Scout Finch to act like a lady and wear a dress so she can “be a ray of sunshine in [her] father’s lonely life.”  Scout does not respond positively: she retorts that she can “be a ray of sunshine in pants just as well”.

In fact, Scout does not respond positively to anything feminine, preferring reading instead of sewing, playing outside instead of inside, and the nickname “Scout” to the girlish “Jean Louise.”

On the other hand, the culture that Harper Lee depicts does not respond positively to Scout’s tomboyish inclinations.  Scout lives in Maycomb, Alabama, a rural Southern town, during the Great Depression.  In this setting, society dictates strict gender stereotypes, and people rarely cross the barrier between masculinity and femininity.  Maycomb is a place where “[l]adies bathed before noon, after their three o’clock naps, and by nightfall were like soft teacakes with frostings of sweat and sweet talcum”. Scout, however, refuses to be a “soft teacake.”

Through her actions, Scout demonstrates a flexible view of gender.  Scout is not born with an innate predisposition to be a tomboy; rather her behaviours define her as a tomboy.  As she consistently repeats unconventional behaviours, she presents her own conception of what gender means.  Harper Lee depicts gender as a standard that alters according to each individual.

Gender Bending During WWII

The twentieth century brought a shift in attitudes towards tomboys.  During the years in which Harper Lee grew up and wrote her novel, America advocated the home as a woman’s domain.  During WWII views changed as women entered the workforce assuming positions previously considered to be masculine.  Michelle Ann Abate in Tomboys: A Literary and Cultural History. Philadelphia: Temple UP, 2008 (p.146) refers to Rosie the Riveter as an icon of “tomboyish toughness”.  However, society’s high regard for gender-bending females was temporary, when the war ended, women once again returned to their homes (Abate p.150).

To Kill a Mockingbird also Reflects this Ambivalence Concerning Gender-bending Females

The novel contains characters who both support and disapprove of Scout’s tomboyism.  For instance, Aunt Alexandra wants Scout to wear a dress, while Atticus allows her to wear overalls.  Moreover, other characters paradoxically condemn feminine mannerisms while simultaneously expecting them.  Scout’s brother Jem, for instance, frequently teases her for being a girl, but he also commands, “It’s time you started bein’ a girl and acting right!”.

Scout Stays Resolute

Even though she endures these conflicting principles, Scout stays resolute.  For example, when Jem criticizes her “girlish” fear of the Radley house, she shows masculine bravery and joins him in sneaking into the Radley yard.  On the other hand, when he suggests she “take up sewin’ or something,” Scout replies, “Hell no”.  Reflecting the twentieth-century’s hesitation over the changing roles of women, Jem has shifting expectations for Scout as a female.  Scout, however, remains steadfastly opposed to conventional femininity.

What’s not to love about this amazing book?  I can’t think of anything.

All Resources are created by Online Tutoring of Mainstream English using Zoom

‘Maestro’ by Peter Goldsworthy A Brief Synopsis of the Importance of ‘Place’ in the Narrative

See the source image

Place is integral to an understanding of the characters in Maestro by Peter Goldsworthy.

In some ways, the cities of Darwin, Adelaide and Vienna parallel the growth of the characters.  In other respects, the character’s attitudes towards the cities reveal their motivations and, in the case of Keller, the mystery of his past.  Darwin and Adelaide exemplify the most obvious and literal examples of the polarity of North and South.

“Up North” Darwin in the 1960’s – a Wild Frontier Town

See the source image

“Up North” in the 1960’s traditionally represented the outpost of civilisation in Australia, with Darwin as its wild frontier town.  In pre-Cyclone Tracy Darwin, there were few opportunities for public entertainment or cultural events.  The town’s residents had a reputation for heavy drinking, fast driving and little regard for fine music or the arts.  In 1967 few homes had air conditioning so that Darwin’s wet heat had to be alleviated with iced drinks, ceiling fans and evening sea breezes through louvred windows.  Initially John Crabbe described Darwin’s inhabitants as “wife-beaters, fugitives from justice, alcoholics and maintenance dodgers” (p.17).  Darwin was “the terminus … A town populated by men who had run as far as they could flee” (p.17).

Goldsworthy Portrays Life in Darwin as a Rhythm of Dramatic Contrasts

Life in Darwin is portrayed as a rhythm of dramatic contrasts between day and night, and the Wet and Dry seasons.  Thunder is “the sound of February, of deepest, darkest Wet” (p.4).  The Wet exaggerates nature in every way.  The hard-drinking customers at The Swan where “it was always Wet season” (p.17), provide the background rhythm to Paul’s lessons with Keller and their wrangles over the choices of compositions for his lessons and practice.  The change of season to the Dry marks an important point in the characters’ moods.  Everyone’s mood is lightened and refreshed at the beginning of “seven months of clear, enamel-blue days” (p.28), when meals are taken outside in “a nightly cooling ritual” (p.30).  Throughout the novel, Goldsworthy uses the imagery of night and day, Wet and Dry, sunshine and darkness to symbolise or illustrate his characters’ states of mind.

Darwin confronts the Crabbes with Physical and Mental Challenges

The Crabbes’ move to Darwin, a career promotion for John, confronts all three family members with both physical and mental challenges.  To Paul, Darwin is a tropical paradise; to his parents it is, initially too hot, humid and uncivilised.  John Crabbe declares Darwin is “A city of booze, blow, and blasphemy” (p.9) but Paul loves Darwin from the moment he steps off the plane from Adelaide: “I loved the town of booze and blow at first sight.  And above all its smell: those hot, steamy perfumes that wrapped about me as we stepped off the plane, in the darkness, in the smallest hours of a January night.  Moist, compost air.  Sweet-and-sour air …” (p.9).

Goldsworthy Describes Darwin in Lush Descriptive Passages

Goldsworthy devotes considerable attention to crafting lushly descriptive passages which evoke Darwin’s exotic quality, its multicultural population and the strong emotions of sexuality.  Paul delights in the dense foliage of their garden, at the “unnatural greenness” of leaves, and marvels at the brilliance of parrots, butterflies, huge insects and grubs: “Everything grew larger than life in the steamy hothouse of Darwin, and the people were no exception.  Exotic, hothouse blooms” (p.11).

Darwin for Eduard Keller was an Exile

See the source image

For Herr Eduard Keller, the maestro, Darwin was an exile, a self-imposed punishment stemming from his perceived responsibility for the deaths of his wife and child.  Darwin is the maestro’s decision to live as far as possible, both literally and metaphorically from his cultured European background.  Paul vividly remembers his first encounter with the maestro.  He was fascinated by Keller: “I’d seen nothing like him before.  He was short: migrant-height, European height…The hair above that flaming face was white, sparse, downy.  On his red nose he had placed … a pince-nez… Above all, I remember the hands: those dainty, faintly ridiculous hands” (p.5).  Despite Darwin’s oppressive heat, Keller is dressed in a white linen suit, crisp and freshly laundered.  As Paul pushed his way through the drinkers in The Swan each Tuesday for his piano lesson, he found it “easy to place Keller among these fugitives” running away from things they chose not to remember.

Private Online Tutoring of English using Zoom

Poetry Analysis Step by Step

Why Read Poems?

Some people say they don’t like poetry, it’s boring or they don’t understand it.  I think poetry is more like a song, the more you hear it the more you like it.  The words are very similar to poetry; in fact we can break down the verses of songs and see the meaning as poetry.

Poetry doesn’t have to be boring; it can also be funny like limericks.

Start with a Step by Step Analysis

Have a look at this Poetry Analysis Step by Step Flow Chart in PowerPoint to show you the way to read and understand a poem.  Follow it below as well with a full explanation of the Poetry Analysis Step by Step.

Poetry Analysis flow chart

1. Read a poem 2 or 3 times

Each time you read a poem you notice different things

When you read the poem a second time you pick up on ideas and themes that you may have missed the first time you read it.  Also the poet can have ideas hidden just below the surface of the words and as you read it again, the new ideas can jump out.

2. Paraphrase the poem by stanza next to the original text

Writing it in your own words is a good idea to make sense of the poem, so you know what it means in simple terms

Stanza means the verses of the poem just like a song

How the poet organises the stanzas in a poem is often an important aspect of the poem’s structure.  Nothing in a poem is by accident.  Poets choose their words carefully as well as giving careful thought to the form and layout of the poem.  You should ask yourself why the poet has done this or that because there will be a reason and there is an effect for everything in a poem.

3. Answer the 5 W’s

Who? Who is the poet referring to?

What? What is the poem about?

Why? Why is the poet writing about it?

When? When is the poem set, the time period?

Where? Where is the poem, the place the poet is taking about, the setting?

4. Identify the theme, message or topic

What is the poet trying to say? What is the poet’s message in the poem?

What is the point? Is the poet trying to make a specific point in the poem?

5. Identify and Highlight Examples of Literary Techniques


Definition: Simile is when you compare two nouns (persons, places or things) that are unlike, with “like” or “as.” “The water is like the sun.”  “The water is like the sun” is an example of simile because water and the sun have little in common, and yet they’re being compared to one another. The “is” is also part of what makes this stanza an example of simile. “The rain falls like the sun,rising upon the mountains.”


When something is described in terms of something else, ‘her eyes are the stars in the sky’ is a metaphor as one thing her eyes is being described in terms of another thing the stars. Metaphors are comparisons that show how two things that are not alike in most ways are similar in one important way. Metaphors are a way to describe something. Authors use them to make their writing more interesting or entertaining. Unlike similes that use the words “as” or “like” to make a comparison, metaphors state that something is something else.


Poets use words to create images in your mind.


This is the repetition of a consonant sound in the words.  For example slippery slithering snake is alliteration.


This is where human qualities or emotions are given to non human things.  The wind howled in agony all day.  He gazed at the angry sea.


The overall mood of the poem, the emotions can be sad, optimistic, solemn.

Point of View

From what point of view is the poet writing.

Online Tutoring of English using Zoom

Poetry of Robert Frost

Robert Frost

Robert Frost

Frosts poetry is a Metaphor for the ways in which we make sense of our lives

The ways in which people develop their imaginative landscapes, their attitudes and values and how they respond to the world around them are influenced by their sense of place.  In analysing texts the landscape may be seen in literal or metaphorical terms.  Places where we have lived and people we have lived with contribute to our outlook on life and how we respond to particular situations.  For some people these memories stay with them throughout life.  The imaginative landscape derives from the diversity of these experiences over the years.  The physical landscape of a person’s life forms a literal and metaphorical yardstick with which to measure the passage of time and the acquisition of personal characteristics.  The physical becomes intertwined with their imaginative landscape.

Robert Frost’s Imaginative Landscape

Encompasses both the beauty and dark side of the land and of human nature.  While his love of the natural world is evident, inspiring him as a poet and a person, he does not romanticize it, rather he imbues it with strong moral tones, reflecting in his love of rural America.

As well as describing the physical world, Frost is also preoccupied with how the human figures are placed in the landscape and in time.  His characters are aware of where they have come from and their history.  They move in time from the past but also encompass the future.  Frost’s imaginative landscape helps us to construct versions of ourselves by exploring where and who we have come from and who we might become.

‘The Road Not Taken’ Poem by Robert Frost

See the source image

The speaker stands in the woods, considering a fork in the road.  Both ways are equally worn and equally overlaid with un-trodden leaves.  The speaker chooses one, telling himself that he will take the other another day.  Yet he knows it is unlikely that he will have the opportunity to do so.  He admits that someday in the future he will recreate the scene with a slight twist, he will claim that he took the less-travelled road.

One of the attractions of this poem is its archetypal dilemma, one that we instantly recognise because each of us encounters it numberable times, both literally and figuratively.  Paths in the woods and forks in the roads are ancient and deep-seated metaphors for life, its crises and decisions.  Identical forks, in particular, symbolise for us the nexus of free will and fate.  We are free to choose, but we do not really know beforehand what we are choosing between.  Our route is, thus, determined by an accretion of choice and chance, and it is impossible to separate the two.

The Fourth Stanza Holds the Key to the Poem with 2 Tricky Words

“I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference”.

Those who interpret this poem as suggesting non-conformity take the word “difference” to be a positive difference.  There is nothing in the poem that suggests that this difference signals a positive outcome.  The speaker could not offer such information, because he has not lived the “difference” yet.

The other word that leads non-discerning readers astray is the word “sigh”.  By taking “difference” to mean a positive difference, they think that the sigh is one of nostalgic relief.  However, a sigh can also mean regret.  There is the “oh, dear” kind of sigh, but also the “what a relief” kind of sigh.  Which one is it?  We do not know.

See the source image

If the the sigh is one of relief, then the difference means the speaker is glad he took the road he did.  If the sigh is one of regret, then the difference would not be good, and the speaker would be sighing in regret.  The speaker of the poem does not even know the nature of that sigh because that sigh and his evaluation of the difference his choice will make are still in the future.  It is a truism that any choice we make is going to make “all the difference” in how our future turns out.

Private Online Tutoring of English using Zoom


Basic Debating Rules

See the source image

Basic Debating Rules: Starting with an Explanation of What is a Debate?

A debate is basically an argument with strict rules of conduct.  It is not a shouting match between two sides with different points of view.

Topic Sides

There are 2 sides in a debate:

  1. The Affirmative agrees with the topic
  2. The Negative disagrees with the topic

The Team Line

Three speakers work together as a team.  The Team Line is the basic statement of “why the topic is true” (for the affirmative team) and “why the topic is false” (for the negative team).  It should be a short sentence, presented by the first speaker of each team and used by the other two speakers to enforce the idea of teamwork.

The Debate Announcer and Time Keeper

  1. The Debate Announcer introduces the topic and the students on each team
  2. The Debate Announcer mentions that each speaker will be timed, the minimum speech is 3 minutes and the Time Keeper will tap on the desk when the 3 minutes has elapsed so the Speaker knows
  3. Each team will have the same allowance for time


Each side has 3 speakers who speak in order:

First Speaker of the Affirmative Side Must

  • define the topic
  • present the Affirmative team’s line
  • outline briefly what each speaker in their team will talk about
  • present the first half of the Affirmative case

First Speaker of the Negative Side Must

  • accept or reject the definition.  If you don’t do this it is assumed that you accept the definition.
  • present the Negative team’s line
  • outline briefly what each of the Negative speakers will say
  • rebut a few of the main points of the First Affirmative Speaker
  • the First Negative Speaker should spend about one quarter of their time rebutting
  • Present the first half of the Negative team’s case

Second Affirmative Speaker Must

  • reaffirm the Affirmative team’s line
  • rebut the main points presented by the First Negative Speaker
  • the Second Affirmative Speaker should spend about one third of their time rebutting
  • present the second half of the Affirmative team’s case

Second Negative Speaker Must

  • reaffirm the Negative team’s line
  • rebut some of the main points of the Affirmative’s case
  • the Second Negative Speaker should spend about one third of their time rebutting
  • present the second half of the Negative team’s case

Third Affirmative Speaker Must

  • reaffirm the Affirmative team’s line
  • rebut all the remaining points of the Negative team’s case
  • the Third Affirmative Speaker should spend about two thirds to three quarters of their time rebutting
  • present a summary of the Affirmative team’s case
  • round off the debate for the Affirmative team

Third Negative Speaker Must

  • reaffirm the Negative team’s line
  • rebut all the remaining points of the Affirmative team’s case
  • the Third Negative Speaker should spend about two thirds to three quarters of their time rebutting
  • present a summary of the Negative team’s case
  • round off the debate for the Negative team
  • neither Third Speaker may introduce any new parts of their team’s cases

Importance of Rebuttal

In debating, each team will present points in favour of their case.  They will also spend some time criticising the arguments presented by the other teamThis is called Rebuttal.

There are a few things to remember about Rebuttal:

  1. Logic – to say that the other side is wrong is not enough.  You have to show why the other side is wrong.  This is best done by taking a main point of the other side’s argument and showing that is does not make sense.  A lof of the thinking for this needs to be done quickly and this is one of the most challenging aspects of debating.
  2. Pick the important points  – try to rebut the most important points of the other side’s case.  You will find that after a while these are easer to spot.  One obvious spot to find them is when the first speaker of the other team outlines briefly what the rest of the team will say.
  3. Play the ball – do not criticise the individual speakers, criticise what they say.

The Manner of how you present your debate is important

The manner is how you present what you say and the best manner style is definitely not to shout and thump the table but to keep calm and present your points with a clear speaking voice.  Here are a few tips that might come in handy with your debating style:

  1. Use Cue Cards – debating is a lively interaction between two teams not just reading a speech off notes.  Use cue cards like a prompt in a play as a reference if you lose your spot or train of thought.
  2. Use Eye Contact – if you look at the audience you will hold their attention.  If you spend the whole time reading from your cue cards or looking at a spot away from the audience, they will lose concentration very quickly.  Keep the audience in your sight and their minds will follow your logic.
  3. Your Voice – you must project your voice so that you can be heard but definitely do not shout.  Use the volume, pitch and speech of your voice to emphasise important points of your speech.  Sometimes a loud burst will grab the audience’s attention while a period of quiet speaking will draw the audience in and make them listen more carefully to what you are saying.
  4. Your Body – Make your body work for you by using hand gestures with confidence.  Move your head and upper body to maintain eye contact with all members of the audience.  Stand straight up, definitely do not slouch over the desk or let the audience know you might be nervous.
  5. Nervous Habits – avoid them like the plague.  Playing with the cue cards, pulling strands of your hair, fiddling with your watch or bouncing up and down on your feet will all distract from what you are saying.  Don’t let any one thing detract from your ability to persuade the audience.
  6. Using Big Words – try to avoid going overboard with big words and confusing people.  If you don’t understand the big words yourself then the chances no one else will understand what you are saying either.  It would be a huge mistake to debate and get stuck on a word that you are not sure what it means but also one that you can’t pronounce.

The Marking Scheme in a Debate

Every adjudicator marks to a standard.  You will get a mark out of 40 for matter, manner and method with a total mark out of a 100.

Private Online Tutoring of English using Zoom

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

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.

Image result for Ishikawa diagram

Online Tutoring of English Using Zoom

Creative Writing Ideas

Creative Writing Ideas: Firstly, Where do you get your ideas from?

Does this ever happen to you?  You have to write something for school.  You sit down to write it, and you just can’t get a word on the paper.  You’re stuck.  You have writer’s block.

You wonder “where do writers get their ideas from?

The answer is not that difficult because ideas can come from everything we see and hear and find in the world around us.  If you break the ideas into three departments you can see that there are stories waiting to be told by looking into:

  1. The Experience Department = Do you travel a lot with your family?  The airport is a great place to watch people arrive and depart.  Ask yourself, why are these people here, what are they wearing and how do they look?  Are they leaving to start a new life somewhere else?  The questions are endless.  If you use your imagination you can think up characters and events based on the people you have seen.
  2. The Memory Department = Your memories are terrific ideas to use for your writing.  They are based on a fantastic character – you!  They are easy to remember as they always have a beginning, a middle and an end.  Can you remember when you first started school, went on a holiday, joined a new team for sport or may be got lost in a large department store?  Do you keep a diary?  You’re lucky if you do because you have all the journal entries there waiting for your new story to begin.  The memories are all locked away in your mind just waiting to emerge as a story.
  3. The What if Department =  What would it be like to have a clone of yourself, someone who looked like you, talked liked you and may be he/she is you and you are really the clone!!  What if you hypnotized your sister and you couldn’t snap her out of it?  What if you could hear your dog’s thoughts?  Think about it and have fun writing.

Concentrate on gathering as many details as you can see but don’t forget smells and tastes in five minutes.  (Even set a timer if you have one to make you think and write faster)

What I do is to think about the senses ie. sight, smell, hearing and taste because they are all part of the world that you inhabit.  Don’t forget feelings, they are just as important in your story as the characters themselves .  If you write down your ideas about a story in a list or notes as fast as you can without making the writing sound perfect, then you have already started your creative story.  Just put the words down, you can always go back and put them in the right order later.

Try putting ideas down using a concept map or fishbone diagram.

If you still can’t write down anything, try this:  Tell the story out loud.

Pretend you’re on the phone, telling a story to your best friend.  Once you’ve told it out loud, it will be easy to get it down on paper.

Private Online Tutoring of English using Zoom

Common Themes and Issues in Texts

Image result for pictures of the themes in texts

Common themes and issues in texts are central to the purpose of any text and relate to the author’s values and point of view.

A text may have one or several themes and issues.  An author selects and deliberately arranges material (characters, setting and plot) in a text to explore, support and develop their themes and issues.  These common themes and issues are open to different interpretations by the audience depending on their own context and perspective.

See the common themes bank below that will help you to identify common themes and issues in set texts so you can track their development as the text progresses:


  •   Power of religious faith
  •   Cultural and religious influences
  •   Restrictive nature of some societies, religions and cultures


  •   Social, family, peer group and legal


  •   Enduring nature of love
  •   Loyalty and betrayal
  •   Betrayal of love
  •   Betrayal of self
  •   Friends
  •   Workplace
  •   Institutions
  •   Family responsibility/loyalty/love
  •   Power of love
  •   Grief and loss of love


  •   Gender roles (traditional vs modern)
  •   Gender conflict

Self awareness

Personal journey

  •   Individuality versus conformity
  •   Loss of innocence
  •   Quest for perfection
  •   Loss of self
  •   Importance of place/identity in society
  •   Power of dreams and ambition
  •   Sense of identity and belonging


  •   Courage in the face of racial or gender discrimination
  •   Destruction of war
  •   Workplace conflict
  •   Cultural conflict
  •   Racial conflict/prejudice
  •   Family conflict
  •   Global conflict

Shakespearean   Themes

  •   Love versus betrayal
  •   Divine rights of kings
  •   Ambition and power
  •   Evil versus goodness
  •   Image versus reality

Private Online Tutoring of English using Zoom