"Writing the perfect paper is a lot like a military operation. It takes discipline, foresight, research, strategy, and, if done right, ends in total victory." -Ryan Holiday

The power of a dazzlingly well-written work of fiction or non-fiction can inspire and incite individuals to action. 

By carefully learning the basics of writing fiction and non-fiction texts, students hone their creative skills and fabricate articles, novels, short stories and speeches that make their mother proud!

Studying the GCSE English Language subject equips students with the necessary tools to become some of the great writers. Therefore, it is Superprof's great pleasure to guide students through the distinct sections covered in the writing topic of the GCSE English Language curriculum.

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Audience, Purpose and Form

writing for your audience
Every writer has an intended audience: the social class of people that will read their works of writing. (Source: pixabay)

When an author has established their audience, purpose and form they are prepared to make logical choices about language, tone and structure.

Language refers to the words that are chosen to be included in the piece of writing. Tone makes reference to the mood or how the writing makes you feel. Structure is all about the way you present your writing, whether the written work is full or paragraphs, sentences or bullet points.

Audience, purpose and form are all essential parts of writing works of fiction and non-fiction. They are better explained in the following descriptions:

  • Audience: this can be determined by asking the real question, who is going to read your writing? All writing has an intended audience. For example, emails, text messages, ingredients on a cereal package, political speeches and even graffiti on abandoned buildings are all destined for a specific group of people that is predetermined by the author. Writers usual have an ideal reader in mind and adapt their literary skills according to age, gender, culture, hobbies and political beliefs. The style of writing is drastically improved when choosing a language and style that will appeal to them,
  • Purpose: what will your writing do? The meaning of a text can also be known as the reason for writing. An author might be writing to share information, give instructions, persuade a group of people, review a film or website or explaining why you're the best person for the job on a cover letter. Words need to be carefully selected by authors to achieve their purpose,
  • Form: makes reference to how and where a piece of writing will appear. It is important to note that each form of writing has its conventions. An email may often be more informal than a letter, a novel usually has imaginary characters and is divided into chapters, a newspaper article has a bold headline, and a recipe features a list of ingredients written for aspiring chefs.

Before deciding to create a piece of writing, it would be wise for pupils studying the English Language GCSE subject to consider the information mentioned above to fabricate a literary work of art.

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Writing Fiction

Writing fiction is an opportunity for your mind to run free and write about original ideas from your own experiences or your wild imagination. 

Works of fiction are not true, but they may be based on personal events that have been experienced by the author. The language used while writing fiction is often poetic and far more descriptive than pieces of non-fiction.

Examples of fiction may include poetry, plays, novels and short stories. Nevertheless, as a pupil reviewing this section of the GCSE English Language subject, you are likely to be working on shorter pieces of fiction writing in which you describe a place, represent a person or write the opening section to a story.

The best writers know that an engaging opening is essential to grab the attention of a reader skimming through the pages of a short story or novel.

The five-stage story arc of fiction and non-fiction works has students review the following stages:

  • Exposition: an opening sentence or paragraph that grabs the attention,
  • Rising action: tension is built before moving onto the next step,
  • Climax or turning point: the most memorable part of the story,
  • Falling action: the effects of the turning point are finally realised,
  • Resolution: the story concludes.

In addition to an opening that demands attention and the five-stage story arc, the best writers are taught to include a convincing close that leaves readers feeling satisfied with the way the story ends.

A critical part of the writing fiction section from the English Language GCSE subject is the correct use of paragraphs. Students often ask themselves, when should I start a new paragraph? Well, the acronym TiPToP is an invaluable answer to the preceding question. TiPToP means the following:

  • Ti = Time: new sections need to be started when time changes in your narrative,
  • P = Place: a brand new paragraph is started when the writer changes location in the novel or short story,
  • To = Topic: new paragraphs are started when you turn the topic,
  • P = Person: when using dialogue or focus is changed to a different person; a new paragraph is started.

It's never a great thing to be known as a show-off; however, a wide range of vocabulary is always appreciated in a literary text. With that being said, it is important to remember that complicated words do not consistently equate better. Simple words are sometimes more effective than longer ones.

Figurative language and including the senses in literary works, significantly improve the overall style and effectiveness of a student's potential writing. The length and variety of sentences, along with different sentence openings contribute to keeping your writing interesting and lively. 

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Writing Non-Fiction

letters and emails
Letters can be formal or informal depending on the intended audience. The initial paragraph outlines the overall aim of the letter. (Source: pixabay)

The works of non-fiction deal with facts, opinions and real-world events. Different forms of non-fiction have specific conventions, and during writing tasks, it would be important for students to consider the conventions of the way, intended audience and the general purpose of your writing.

Examples of non-fiction texts may include an autobiography, an open letter, a newspaper article or a motivational speech. 

Students reviewing this section as part of the GCSE English Language curriculum, are confronted with helpful advice on writing appealing non-fiction texts such as the following: 

  • Speeches: when writing a speech a three-part structure is observed: an opening that captures the attention of the audience, a well-organised argument with several main points and a memorable conclusion that leaves the people gasping in admiration! It is important to note that the language used in a speech depends greatly on the audience. When speaking in front of a professional audience, it is best to use formal language, and informal speech is highly recommended when talking to an auditorium filled with primary school students. Reviewing outstanding examples help students ensure success when writing their public speeches,
  • Letters: a formal letter has a conventional structure and formally addresses the recipient. The initial paragraph outlines the overall aim of the letter, and the concluding paragraph summarises the main points that were discussed throughout the letter. In a formal letter, it is expected to use Standard English, and the tone will depend on the audience,
  • Articles: the most common places expected to find an article include a magazine, a website or a particular section of a newspaper. An article is a piece of writing that is usually around 800-2000 words in length and offers a balanced view of a subject that is not too biased. Travelling, sports, history, music and famous figures are typical subjects included in articles. The structure of an article has an opening, a middle and an end. The vocabulary words used throughout a column depend on the tone and the audience. Headlines are usually attention-grabbing, and the words chosen in the entirety of the article are enticing.

The sample task and responses further prepare students for analyzing and writing non-fiction texts.

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Planning is an essential part of writing that helps students determine what they wish to include in their literary works. Organizing ideas and sorting out structure are parts of planning that come highly recommended in order to create a piece of writing, fiction or nonfiction, that stands out from the rest.

Since our brains all work differently, there have been many planning methods developed to suit all the unique needs of individuals. The following are the most common examples:

  • Mind maps: visual learners greatly enjoy this way of planning where keywords are used to connect ideas with lines. Mind maps are extremely flexible and more essential information can easily be added on as you go along developing new plans. Primary literary devices, examples of vocabulary and subtopics can all be included to improve understanding,
  • Bullet points: a fantastic method for those who have a slight obsession with lists. Using bullet points makes it easier to write down more extended thoughts or phrases in comparison to a mind map,
  • Flow charts: similar to a mind map due to the fact that a visual structure for planning is included. Flow charts help even the most experienced writers focus on each important stage of the writing process,
  • Tables: useful for analyzing works of writing that cover different points of view. Both sides of the argument are considered on a table.

When choosing a planning method, it is important to remember to try different plans and find the one that best works for your specific needs. 

After an effective planning method that works for you has been chosen, it would be very wise to edit and proofread your work to check for mistakes that may have been missed and to improve what you have already written.

Organising Information and Ideas

Well-organised writing is straightforward to read, follow and understand. It is the responsibility of the writer to create a text that has well-organised ideas and information.

The best order for your paragraphs needs to be determined to give your writing the shape it needs. Reviewing plans and works of writing devised from past authors aid pupils in ordering their paragraphs in a way that best suits the audience, form and purpose.

The first sentence, also known as the topic sentence, contains the main point of the fiction or non-fiction text — the sentences that follow support and expand upon the initial phrase composed.

Paragraphs should logically follow each other. To effectively link paragraphs, transitional phrases or words can be included. Some of the most frequently used linking words featured in fiction and nonfiction texts include the following:

  • In addition...
  • Furthermore...
  • Likewise...
  • On the other hand...
  • In summary...
  • Overall...

A variety of sentence types should be included in your writing. You don't want readers to fall asleep while reading your literary works, do you? Therefore, it is of the utmost importance to use an assortment of simple sentences, compound sentences and complex sentences.

Using Language Effectively

The most experienced wordsmiths use language to create different effects in their writings. 

Descriptive language is frequently used to help the reader feel as if they were in the scene or event that was being described. Some literary techniques are used to make descriptions in novels or short stories more vivid and creative. Some examples include simile, metaphor, personification, alliteration, oxymoron and parenthesis to name a few.

Persuasive language is used for many reasons such as for selling products or convincing people to accept a new idea. Politicians and salesman often use rhetorical devices when speaking to impress those listening to them. Examples of rhetorical techniques include flattery, hyperbole, imperatives, statistics and rhetorical questions.

Looking through examples can guide students to grasping a further understanding of the distinct language devices used to improve the style of writing.


becoming a better writer
Looking up words in the dictionary and thesaurus can improve your vocabulary. (Source: pixabay)

The most important thing is to read as much as you can, like I did. It will give you an understanding of what makes good writing and it will enlarge your vocabulary. -J.K Rowling

Expanding your vocabulary is a necessary part of becoming a skilled writer. After learning new words, it is essential to use them as soon as possible to become part of your daily vocabulary.

Discovering new words can be done by reading widely and introducing challenging reading material, using a dictionary and thesaurus, listening to talk shows and radio stations, using applications that have a 'word of the day' feature and by listening to your teachers attentively.

By using precise verbs, lively words and saying goodbye to overused words, your vocabulary will expand, and this will improve the quality of your writing.

The writing topic of the GCSE English Langauge subject is a brilliant aid for students who want to spread their creative wings and create works of writing that could be enjoyed for future generations.

Superprof offers additional information about other essential topics of the English Language GCSE subject such as comparing distinct texts and learning to become qualified public speakers and effective listeners.

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