Friday, April 16, 2010

Organizing Ideas

Organizing Ideas
By Musa Sinnan

In this week issue we will look further into organizing interesting ideas, constructing sentences and arranging them in paragraphs. Getting organized is a vital part in the writing process of an interesting essay, especially in section B (Paper 1) – Continuous Writing.

Paragraphs are organized differently in different kinds of writing. It is important that you have to read and understand the main idea or the key words of the given topic. After you have made a plan on your essay, you need to organize interesting ideas. This can be done when you construct the sentences using simple, compound or complex sentences and arrange them in appropriate paragraphs.

In a well-written paragraph, each sentence has words or phrases that link it to the previous sentence. These connecting words may be pronouns that refer back to a noun or pronoun in the previous sentence. Example : he, she, it, we, they, him, her, us, them, this, etc.

Extract 1.

A year ago, after being retrenched from his computer company, John felt dejected. He was worried about how he was going to fulfill the needs of his family. This situation worsened when he failed to secure a job after months of intensive searching. Soon, he began to indulge in alcoholic drinks to drown his sorrow.

In most cases, the connecting words may also be logical connectors, such as however, moreover, in addition, nevertheless, meanwhile, although, besides, or any other common transitional signals that we have discussed in the previous issue.

Extract 2.

The public phones in our school were vandalized last week. Moreover, some of our drawings and artwork which were on display were also destroyed. Besides that, a few chairs were also broken. However, there were no broken window panes.

The connecting words may also be sequence connectors such as firstly, next, then, finally, etc.

Extract 3.

Firstly cut the apple into small pieces. Next, put them into the blender. Then, add some water and blend them. Finally, pour the apple juice into a glass and enjoy the drink.

Creating ideas
When a topic is given either for the class writing practice or answering a question in the examination, you need to organize your ideas. You should be able to list the introduction, main idea, topic sentences, supporting details and appropriate conclusion.

Anyway, for a narrative essay, you may also organize your ideas in such a way where the main idea is stated at the beginning, or even at the end of the essay. Can you continue to make a story from the question below?

Sample question on narrative essay :

Write a story beginning with ‘When I opened the door ……………………………….’

Sample answer

When I opened the door, I saw a ghost. I was so scared. I tried to close the door but I didn’t have the power to do it. My knees grew weaker. The ghost was coming nearer towards me. It looked so scary with its red eyes. Then, I started to scream and I fainted.

Comment :

When we study the topic ‘when I opened the door’, it seems that the idea on what is going to happen in the story would be something scary, creepy or even horrible like killing, bullying or other incidents leading to death as you can observe from the sample answer above.

In the sample above, the student started the essay by stating the idea of seeing a ghost. It is too early to expose to the readers that the story is going to be a ghost story. If possible try not to expose too fast. Drag the readers to read on in order to get the main idea on what the student had encountered when the door was opened.

For example,

‘When I opened the door, I saw nothing. There was no one and everything remained as it was. Then, I closed the door. I walked back to my room………………………….’

Anyway, the second sentence, ‘I was so scared’, is a good effort on expressing feelings at that particular time. You should be able to express your feeling effectively so as the readers could also feel what you really felt and try to visualize the situation.

The student is able to describe the physical movement creatively as shown in the following sentences. ‘I tried to close the door but I didn’t have the power to do it. My knees grew weaker.’ It shows that the character, I, was really helpless and indulge in a great shock. The organization of the ideas makes the beginning of the essay more interesting. The critical situation is enhanced well by the approaching of the ghost and the observation of the eyes.

The last sentence shows a continuous effect on the writer. Then, I started to scream and I fainted.

Unfortunately, the idea that the writer fainted, is an abrupt stop for the writer to end the first paragraph. It may derive to an anti-climax because the student has to work out setting a new situation in the following paragraph, for a new take-off of the story.

Example: (second paragraph)

……..and I fainted.
When I opened my eyes I found myself lying on the bed in my room. Weak and dizzy. I started to recall what had happened to me………………

My suggestion :
- create further actions that should have been done by the writer to give wider and more straining description about the incidents, to the readers, even in the first or second paragraph.
- create more and clearer descriptions of the ghost to make it more scary and able to make you

Consider this question :

Write a story beginning with ‘As I walked along the corridors of the hospital…………….’

Well, do you have any ideas to continue the story? Can you complete the first paragraph as the introduction to describe any incident that would have happen? This type of question is rather popular for the narrative essay and you can roam at any possible description that leads to an interesting or memorable incident. However, you still need to organize your ideas to avoid repetition or inappropriate link.

Look at the example given.

As I walked along the corridors of the hospital, I looked nervously around the ward.
The smell of antiseptic was slightly choking me. I had never liked hospitals, perhaps because I did not feel comfortable looking at so many ill people. My friends and I volunteered to cheer up children at the ward, ravaged with dangerous diseases.

Suggested ideas to continue the story.
- I met a little boy
- He was willing to learn English
- He dreamt to attain success
- I learnt to appreciate life from him
- He was getting weaker
- He suffered backbone cancer
- He passed away
- grief, memories

Finally, try to give a vivid and interesting description to bring the characters to life. For example, the listed ideas mentioned above enhance the description and ideas on the life of a boy in the hospital. Human relationship finally ended with the reality of death. The ideas seem to merge descriptive writing with narrative writing. Not to worry, description enriches narration! Good try. Remember, practice makes perfect.

Monday, March 15, 2010

How to write narrative essay?

About Narrative Essay – By Musa Sinnan

In this week issue we will begin with the easiest way of writing an essay that is narrative essay. Narrative in other words, writing a short story requires you to ‘narrate’ or to tell a series of fictional events of your own invention. A narrative essay is a piece of writing that recreates an experience through time. It can be based on one of your own experiences, either past or present, or it can be based on the experiences of someone else.
In the exam if you choose to write a narrative essay, it simply means that you are telling a story, which is meaningful and important to you. It describes how a certain event can change a major part of yourself and your life, how you have reacted to that event that happened to you. A good narrative isn't just an enjoyable or amusing story, but has a point to make, an idea to pass on.
Narrative essay is a popular topic in the Continuous Writing section and students should take note that this topic has appeared in the SPM examination almost every year since the paper was introduced. Many people think that writing a story is a difficult task, but believe me, it is much simpler than what you thought because you are not confined to any particular point. Therefore, you are free to voice out everything that is in your mind.
Before writing the essay you should identify the experience that you want to write about. Think about why the experience is significant and spend a good deal of time drafting your recollections about the details of the experience. Finally, create an outline of the basic parts of your narrative.
1. The story should have an introduction that clearly indicates what kind of narrative essay it is (an event or recurring activity, a personal experience, or an observation), and it should have a conclusion that makes a point.
2. The essay should include anecdotes. The author should describe the person, the scene, or the event in some detail. It's okay to include dialogue as long as you know how to punctuate it correctly and as long as you avoid using too much.
3. The occasion or person described must be suggestive in that your description and thoughts lead the reader to reflect on the human experience.
4. The point of view in narrative essays is usually first person. The use of "I" invites your readers into an intimate discussion.
The plot is very important in the narrative essay as it is the basic structure of the story and the whole story evolves around the plot. A good plot has an OPENING, MIDDLE and an ENDING. Let us look at the different stages in writing a narrative essay.

You must have strong characters in your story and the description of such characters should help to make your story interesting. The characters should be credible, that is reasonably true to life, clearly differentiated from each other so that you do not mix them up and finally vividly presented so that the reader can easily visualize them. Therefore present your characters sharply and clearly by using significant details which readily give a clue to the nature of each person.
Read the description about the following characters:
Brigadier Mason was very tall and lean, stooped slightly and had exuberant grey hair which projected a kind of spurious youth. His blue eyes were bleached by the sun but his complexion had not the coarse redness which so many Englishmen carry as a stigma of service in the tropics. Times had marked his skin but the wrinkles at the corners of his mouth and eyes were more a legacy of laughter than of anguish. He spoke in a low unmilitary voice which had not the faintest trace of the slightly nasal intonation which some Englishmen affect as an insignia of their class.
Interview by Gopal Baratham
The description the character mentioned above was written in précised manner. Brigadier Mason was described as a very tall and lean man. He is an old man where it was mentioned as time had marked his skin. He spoke with good manner. The vivid expressions written give a clear picture about that Englishman that arouses your interest to read further.
Methods of opening and ending
There are a few ways to open and to end an essay.

Some Types of Opening
The opening sentence of your essay is very important. Your duty is to get the reader interested right from the start. A lifeless, stereotyped or dull sentence may not attempt your reader to continue. Keep the opening short and do not get carried away. Here are some guidelines of how you should start your essay.

i. Describe the background to your story to establish clearly your characters and
Example: There was once an old lady who lived in an old, dark and shabby hut at the end of the village.

ii. Describe the setting to create mood for your story.
Example: It was a warm night. There had been no rain for the past week. I was lying down on the couch watching the late night movie.

iii. Use direct speech to make a lively way to begin, especially if the character says
something that grabs attention or a surprise technique.
Example: “May God answer my prayer and lead me to a right way!” she whispered, raising her hand in oath.

iv. Use words which convey sounds to start on a dramatic note.
Example: Bang! Bang. There’s a loud banging sound coming from the back of the backyard of the bungalow.

v. Use proverb or quotation which is relevant to the theme.
Example: ‘Where there is a will there is a way.’ I kept on walking in dark. It was
windy. Then, in the dark suddenly, ………………………

To End the Essay
The ending must be a logical conclusion to the story. In the End the reader is told how everything works out. With this, story is brought to a satisfactory conclusion. Your conclusion should be a logical outcome of all action that took place before. Make it short so you do not take away the excitement that you created earlier.
Try to be more original!
Try not to use very clichéd ending, that is, endings that have been using again and again for example:
………… thank God it is all over.
………….and then I fainted.

Be imaginative, end up your story in an unexpected way by creating a ‘twist’ at the end. However, remember that ‘unexpected’ does not mean ‘illogical’.

Here are some guidelines of how to end the story.
…………..This was the happiest moment. I felt relieved to be able to escape from the flood. Splashing in the water, we soon attracted the attention of the rescuer. We were rescued and taken to the evacuation center.

…………... I walked straight out of the room as I could no longer be able to face anyone. I walked down the stairs, head down in total embarrassment. It was a very embarrassing incident and till today, it remains in my heart.