Writing to analyse, review, comment

What are the ingredients?

Theatre Film

Technology Music

Think: hand


S P A R L F C

Structure Purpose Audience Register and Tone Language Form Content

5 paragraph structure
Introduction Point 1 Point 2 Point 3 Conclusion

Strong opening Clear, concise statement of where you stand on the

issue List the points you will be developing in paragraphs 2 – 4.

Paragraphs 2 - 4
Each paragraph should begin

with a clear theme sentence, relating the point back to your introduction.

Paragraph 1: Overview
Try to sum up the play, film, gig, ipod etc – so that if

your reader did not read any more of your review, he would still have a clear idea of whether to see/hear/buy it.

Central paragraphs
Take three ingredients (actors, story, special effects

etc) and make these the subject of your next 3 paragraphs. Give examples. Be detailed and base your opinions on evidence and analysis of that evidence.

Last paragraph
Make this more general. End with your advice on

whether to go/buy etc. Aim to end as strongly as you began.

Example: newspaper review


It's tacky, corny,

inauthentic ... and an absolute joy

Example: paragraph 1
 Posh pantos, who needs 'em? You couldn't call

Kenneth Alan Taylor 's 25th panto for Nottingham Playhouse great art, and you wouldn't argue that it advances the form. In fact, with its Abba medley, thigh-slapping principal girl - sorry, boy - and stage-school dancing penguins, it could have been put together any time over the past 30 years. It's so inauthentic that it introduces us to Peking society with a strain of the theme to You Only Live Twice James Bond's Japanese jaunt. Characters are embroiled in life-and-death battles one second, doing The Time Warp together the next.

Paragraph 2
 But, oh boy, is it fun. It gives kids a wide-eyed

Aladdin (Hannah Wilding) and a lovely Princess So Shy (Danielle Corlass) to care about, a streetwise Wishee Washee (Nathan Dowling) to rev them up, and a fiendish Abanaza (John Elkington) to boo. And Taylor, the writer and director, trusts his audience to cry out the right responses with barely any prompting. Sure, the cast sometimes sound as if they're reading the dialogue off an instruction manual. But though it's written broad and delivered to the back of the hall, it's also played with respect for the material.

Paragraph 3
 And when the gags get smarter, everyone's

included. As Abanaza tries to usher Aladdin into the cave to find the lamp, the audience shout out warnings. "Ignore the voices of doubt in your head," he winks. There is a vein of dry regional wit running through it all, both in the Nottingham accents - everyone is greeted as "me duck" - and in the lack of deference to anything, those local customs included - "Well I'll go to the foot of my stairs ... and other meaningless northern expressions," says Widow Twankey.

Paragraph 4
 Taylor has brought himself out of acting retirement to

play one last Dame, so that his grandchildren can see him in action. And his Twankey boasts the sort of serene vulgarity that they can't teach you at Rada. Each costume more garish than the last, each wordplay more painful than the last, he radiates relish yet never looks to be working too hard. He makes the broken crockery scene, in which Twankey takes delivery of piles of plates down two chutes, an absolute clowning delight. Right, of course, you know where the scene is going. But you also know that Taylor's responses are going to make you revel in its predictabilty rather than despair at it.

Paragraph 5
 It is, in true panto tradition, too long. And a few of

the numbers - Pink Cadillac, anyone? - aren't quite involving enough to numb you to their irrelevance. But it's sung, danced and played with a flourish, with enough skewed set pieces - such as a Boléro tribute to the local heroes Torvill and Dean - to keep you guessing. It may be tack. But it's disciplined, knowing, joyful tack for the whole family.

There has been a lot of

debate in your area recently about how poor facilities are for young people. You have decided to join the debate by writing a balanced letter to your local newspaper which analyses the pros and cons of the council funding a skate park. Write a letter.

2-part structure (1)
 Dear Sir

There are undoubtedly some major advantages, to be gained by everybody, in the provision of a council skate park. To begin with, the park would not interfere with ordinary members of the public, so their disapproval, and their fear of the danger they feel themselves to be in from skateboarding in the street, would be removed. Furthermore, if the expertise of local clubs, semi-professionals and enthusiasts were sought, a state-of-the-art terrain could be constructed which would bring kudos and even money -- through competitions -- to the town. It might also be felt desirable to build picnic areas, refreshment facilities and ancillary amusements to widen the appeal of the park to others. In this way, a considerable amenity would be set up around a central focal point -- the skate park. Moreover, this would be a chance to utilise some currently under-used green areas outside the town centre. Congestion would be relieved and a sense of peace and tranquillity could be established.

2-part structure (2)
On the other hand, there is a cost involved and it is

essential that the cost is not passed on to the users of the park. This would be a killer blow. There would also be an unfortunate inclination to police the area. This should be avoided -- the chance for selfregulation and supervision should be taken. Maintenance would need to be paid for, too, and insurance liability is another factor. Skateboarders are freedom-freaks. The idea of institutionalising their free spirit would be seen as a disadvantage -but the promise of some decent ramps might counterbalance this moral dilemma.

A newspaper is running a

competition to win a holiday by the sea, in the country or in a city. To enter the competition, you must write a letter to the newspaper, stating which holiday you would choose and commenting on the reasons for your choice.

Dear Editor, What a choice! How can I reject the waves crashing onthe beach, or the tranquillity of a forest clearing, or the vitality of a great city? And yet I must reject two of them, as you are forcing me to make a choice -- and I will try to reach my decision rationally and calmly.

Paragraph 2
Seaside holidays are the holidays of idyllic childhoods: rock pools, sandcastles, ice creams. Even if you didn't have holidays like these yourself, that's how the seaside is portrayed in numerous television programmes and films....

Paragraph 3
The calm and tranquil

atmosphere of a holiday in the countryside should -- we are told -- contrast sharply with my vision of overcrowded beaches. But is this a reality of a rural retreat?...

Paragraph 4
On the other hand, cities

are vibrant places, full of people working, relaxing, being tourists, rushing about, even just sitting and watching each other. For me, this is the point of the city, and it is at the heart of why I would make a city holiday my choice....

Paragraph 5
 I hope then that I had given my comments to you

(and, I hope, to your reader) in a way which leaves no doubt about my choice. I would recommend the seaside to sun worshippers and perhaps the countryside to claustrophobic; but for me a City Centre is the centre of the world. Yours faithfully,

Colon . . . Semi-colon . . . Semi-colon
E.g. The Times on

Saturday 30 January: “Murray’s critics have focused on three perceived failings: first, that he considers himself to be Scottish rather than British; second, that he lacks charm; and finally, that he doesn’t quite belong in the sporting top flight.”

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