Our series of custom essay blogs continues with one of the most popular examination essay questions in GCSE and A level English and history exams. Whether the question refers to historical sources, English language or English literature, an extremely popular exam format sees questions begin with the words “How does the writer…?” This provides an open-ended invitation for the student to showcase as much knowledge as possible about the craft and techniques of writing. Luckily for you, you’ll be going in armed with your own super writing technique – your custom essay format for the perfect structure to answer this sort of question! Simply insert specific references from the text at hand and you’ll be on your way to a top grade!

How does the writer…?

Like our other custom essay formats, the key to answering a ‘How does the writer…?’ essay question is to remember a clear, well ordered essay structure that allows the logical consideration of a new idea in each paragraph. This will enable you to avoid the common exam pitfall of lurching into the essay immediately and scrawling down everything you can think of in no particular order, thus losing essential points for coherence and organisation.

Many students, when faced with a text or extract under time pressure and asked ‘How does the writer…?’ will focus largely on the content of the text, commenting on what the writer says and the information he or she includes. The very best answers to these exam questions contain a lot more information, however, about specific writing techniques and linguistic aspects that contribute to the impact of the text on the reader. So what should your custom essay format include?

What your custom essay should include

  • Introduction. This should explain that the way in which the writer achieves the effect in question is the combined result of several different techniques which you will explore in the course of the essay.
  • Paragraph 1: Structure. Look at the ways in which the author structures their text to increase the impact of their writing. This may include syntax of sentences (what information comes first, are the clauses arranged in a particular way), paragraphing and any visual structural devices.
  • Paragraph 2: Layout and Visuals. This is most significant when writing about a magazine article, leaflet etc. Consider how colour, pictures, font, headlines, sub-headings, bullet points, text boxes and any other visual features serve to draw the attention of the reader and emphasise the writer’s point.
  • Paragraph 3: Language. Whatever you are being asked about, it is almost certain that language will be key to how the writer achieves it. Describe the overall type of language being used (archaic, violent, reassuring etc.) then quote specific examples of vocabulary from the text to illustrate the point.
  • Paragraph 4: Tone. Using quotes from the passage for support, define the tone of the article (angry, soothing, questioning, colloquial) and explain how it helps the writer to achieve their aims.
  • Paragraph 5: Linguistic Devices. These include metaphors, similes, imagery, personification, alliteration, onomatopoeia, repetition, direct address, rhetorical questions and hyperbole, amongst others. Pick out as many examples as you can, name the type of rhetorical device being used and explain how the writer uses it to a particular effect.
  • Conclusion. Sum up the major aspects of the text you have analysed and conclude that it is through a combination of these techniques that the writer achieves the intended effect. It may also be appropriate to consider which technique is most important or most powerfully used.

How you should write your custom essay

Of course not all the specific areas identified in the custom essay format above will necessarily be relevant to every text. Others may additionally be included depending on the situation; for example style, rhythm, rhyme and metre. However the custom essay outline remains the same: a clear introduction setting out the different areas that are relevant to the text, followed by an individual paragraph dealing with each one.

For really top marks, remember to follow the three-step rule in this custom essay. When an examiner asks ‘How does the writer…?’ they are looking for each point you make to include a definition of the technique the writer uses (eg. hyperbole) an example from the text (in a quote) and an explanation of how it creates the required effect (eg. makes the reader think…)

Follow these golden rules and this clear, structured custom essay format will stand you in good stead for top examination marks.