How to write a Text Response Essay City of Ghosts
What’s required? • You need to demonstrate your understanding of: • the ideas, characters and themes constructed by the author and presented in the text • the way the author uses structures, features and conventions to construct meaning. • How to prepare, construct and support a response to a text in an essay form
What’s required? • You need to be able to use: • appropriate textual evidence to support your response. • Appropriate metalanguage to discuss the textual features in your response • Expressive, fluent and coherent writing including the conventions of spelling, punctuation and syntax of Standard Australian English.
Approaching Essay Topics • Understanding an essay topic is crucial to developing a relevant response. • There are five aspects to consider when looking at a topic: • Common Topic format • Common Instruction Terminology • Key Words and Phrases • Rewriting the topic • The Scope of the Topic
Approaching Essay Topics • COMMON TOPIC FORMATS • There are three common topic formats: • A statement on the text followed by a task instruction. For example: • ‘In a hierarchical society, conformity is necessary for survival’. Discuss • A direct quote followed by a task instruction or question. For example: • ‘But what’s the point of dreaming?’ Bissen asked him. ‘What is the point of hope?’ To what degree to the characters dare to dream and hope in City of Ghosts? • A direct question on an aspect of the text: • Are Bissen and Lillian really in love? Is love really possible in City of Ghosts?
Approaching Essay Topics • Instruction Terminology – Understand Instructions. • Discuss – what does this require? • Debate, question or explain a topic, giving evidence, reasons and explanations for and/or against the topic. • Do you agree? • Present your own interpretation of the topic, giving evidence, reasons and explanations etc. • How? • Explain, outline or describe the ways in which the text illustrated the topic by drawing on textual evidence, structures and features and metalanguage. • Why?: • Explain reasons to support the idea represented in the topic.
Approaching Essay Topics • Key words and phrases –definitions and synonyms • Identify key words, phrases, terminology and concepts in the topic. • Use a dictionary to clarify your understanding of these terms. • Come up with a list of synonyms for the key words and phrases (this will help you avoid constantly repeating the same words) • Quotes – identify the context of a quote if it is in the topic and consider what the significance is.
Approaching Essay Topics • Rewriting the Topic - Paraphrasing • Write a simple paraphrase of the topic by directly substituting key words and phrases with your own vocabulary or list of synonyms. • Write a paraphrase of the topic by reversing the statement and using your own words.
Approaching Essay Topics • Scope of the Topic – identifying the focus • Ask yourself: “In order to answer this topic what do I have to think and write about?” • Your answer should consider the following: • Character/s – development and/or relationships • Themes or issues • The author’s views and values • The social, historical or political context • The use of structures, features and/or conventions
Forming your Contention • A contention is your point of view, stance, position or argument in response to a topic. Generally there are four positions you can take: • Yes: complete agreement • Yes, however...: partial agreement, presentation of other considerations in relation to the topic. • No: complete disagreement, presentation of alternative view on the topic. • No, however...: part disagreement with the topic; presentation of other considerations in relation to the topic.
Forming your Contention • “Fence sitting” is discouraged as it gives the impression of uncertainty, lack of knowledge and lack of focus. • Once you have considered what the question is asking, form your overall opinion of the topic. • Your contention should be clearly expressed in one sentence. • Use different vocabulary to the words in the essay topic.
Practise Time! • For the following topics identify: • Topic format • Instruction Terminology • Key Words and Phrases • Rewrite the topic • Consider the Scope of the topic • "The woman chuckled. 'There is much that we can do. Perhaps one day you will find out'." (p. 66) In his text City Of Ghosts, author Bali Rai explores the strength and resilience of women, given their role and place in Punjabi society. Discuss. • In his text the City of Ghosts, Bali Rai generates a considerable amount of tension, through the use of non-linear narratives, climaxing at the end of the text. Explore the ways that this is generated.
Planning Your Essay • After you have understood the topic and formed your contention, you have to plan your knowledge into a well structured and detailed text response essay. • The essay plan is your first draft or “roadmap” to writing an effective, focused text response essay under pressure.
Planning Your Essay • What an essay plan should include: • Statement of contention • Outline main points or reasons for contention • Ideas should be organised in sequential, logical order, indicating paragraphs. • Brief description of key evidence for each main point. • You should aim to have 3 to 5 main points, one per body paragraph.
Planning Your Essay • Example Written Plan: • Write your contention • Brief outline of first reason/point • Evidence 1 to support first reason • Evidence 2 to support first reason • Brief outline of second reason/point • Evidence 1 to support first reason • Evidence 2 to support first reason • Etc...
Planning Your Essay • Example Visual Plan:
Practise Time! • Let’s plan the essays we’ve begun. • “In his text the City of Ghosts, Bali Rai generates a considerable amount of tension, through the use of non-linear narratives, climaxing at the end of the text. Explore the ways that this is generated. • ““'What’s the point of dreaming?’ Bissen asked him. ‘What is the point of hope?’" (p.12) The lives of each character in the text City Of Ghosts, are determined by fate. Discuss.
Writing Introductions • The introduction must be relevant, focused and convincing. • The basic introduction should immediately establish the contention and the main points that will be presented (in order) • There are a number of features that you can include in your introduction, though not all will be appropriate for every essay.
Writing Introductions • Features of an introduction: • A sentence introducing the author and text in relation to the topic. • In the novel, City of Ghosts, Bali Raiexplores... [outline key theme/idea] • A clear sentence stating your contention in relation to the topic. • At the centre of the text is the idea that [contention]. • An outline of the main points • This is revealed through [first point]. Additionally [second point]. Finally [third point] also supports [contention]
Writing Introductions • Information contextualising the text in relation to the topic. • Rai’snovel acts to alert his readers to the conservative nature of society...etc • Contextualising a quote that is part of the topic. • Through the character Hera, Raiexpresses his own view that [quote from topic] • In the introduction you could make use of: key words, phrases, synonyms, metalanguage sophisticated explanation of key terms and concepts (NOT dictionary definitions)
Writing Introductions • How easily can you write an introduction for the question you’ve begun?
Writing the Body • The body is the meat in your sandwich. It is where you show the extent of your knowledge of the text in relation to the topic. • The body should develop the central contention from beginning to end. • Overall, you should aim for 600 words for this section – 3 body paragraphs (possibly 4). • USE TEEEEL: especially the T • Topic Sentence: state an idea that relates to the essay topic, do not describe a character or scene from the text. • Evidence: quotes, paraphrases, brief descriptions • Explanation: elaborate on how the evidence relates to the topic and the main point of the paragraph. • Link: Concluding sentence to the paragraph, making sure that everything you’ve written relations to the TS and the overall contention. • Also relate each new paragraph to the previous idea (see list of sentence starters.
Writing the Conclusion • The conclusion is essentially a restatement of your contention and summary of the main points. • Make sure you use different wording to your essay • Make sure you link to the topic and contention • No new ideas. • Don’t ask rhetorical questions • Finish with a quote or a make a statement about the relevance of the text to the wider world.
Style Pointers • Using Quotes • Quotes must be relevant to the point, and clearly punctuated with quotation marks • Incorporate short quotes within sentences. • E.g. Raiexpresses his view on equality when Bissen says, ‘The Gurus teach us that we are all equal.’ • If a quote doesn’t flow fluently in a sentence, it should be introduced by a colon. • Gurdial finds it hard to accept that Sohni could ever love an orphan: ‘You are so beautiful and I am so ordinary.’ • Use an ellipse (3 dots) if you are omitting a word or phrase from a lengthy quote. • ‘Everyone at the orphanage assumed a mask . . . it was how they dealt with their past misfortunes.’
Style Pointers • Style • Title of the Text: Use capitals for each word and underline. Do this consistently throughout: City of Ghosts • Use the author/director’s full name in your first reference to them, then their surname. NEVER their first name. • Use a formal style and tone. Avoid colloquial language (basically this means...; pretty much; sort of like), slang (heaps good, epic failure) and clichés (up a creek without a paddle)
Style Pointers • Write in the present tense when referring to the text. • Do not self-reference (‘I’ or ‘me’). Use ‘one’. • Do not refer to the reader as ‘you’ (e.g. This makes you feel like...) use ‘the reader’. • Write fluent sentences by using linking words, commas, semicolons or colons accurately. • Avoid overusing key terms, descriptive or linking words.