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Writing to describe english coursework

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The City: Creating a Sense of a Place A few miles south of central London, the gentle flow of an open sewer runs deep and green, glistening ever so closely to Green Park, pattering on at its own tranquil pace, before reaching off into the distance. On one side of this unappealing canal, the golden walls of the council flats reach on until clashing with the lively air of the vibrant city, but on the park side, the bank lined with shrubs- fresh and green with every spring, carry in their lower leaf junctures the reminder of the debris of the stormy winds; and broken bottles gleaming in the morning sun, tall dark weeds with their whittled leaves as a testimony to their harsh life. On the sandy bank under the bushes the leaves lie so crisp that even a rat makes a great skittering noise if he were to run across them. Gangsters came out in the evening, all of them looking frightened and panicky while looking around constantly as if they were expecting something bad to happen, once they're happy warm streets soon start teeming with the activity that can only be found in such an able community. ...read more.


In front of the low horizontal limb of a giant sycamore nearby to this pub, there is a bench that's been worn down after many drunken nights; the bench's paint is worn by the many tramps that have spent night after night on it, the many drunks passing out on it and just your average common vandal looking to leave their mark in the crumbling neighbourhood, a desperate attempt to get some attention from the uncaring world. The evening of a hot day started with little wind, moving among the people, creating the effect of a Mediterranean bar. The shade climbed up the street towards the end. Outside the pub lone drunks sat noisily, like little grey sculptured stones, passers by hurriedly avoiding the stench of stale beer and urine. Then from the highway came the sound of sirens on a busy road, the drunks looked worriedly around, few even scattering into the shadows not wanting to be the one pulled away for a minor infringement of the law. Out of one of the flats a frightened kid hurried down the road and around the corner, fleeing from the familiar sound of "BOY, does your mother know you're out?" ...read more.


The pubs customers were stunned in awe, they did not realise what was going on until the first piercing gunshot entered their ears, immediately followed by a blood curling feminine scream that lasted for only a few seconds before disappearing into the mixture of blood, gunshots and terrified yelps. At first neither side was giving in despite the incredible amount of frenzied bystanders. After a few moments of chaos people started stampeding and fighting with each other to get inside first. A mother tried to shield her baby in a pushchair as she ran for cover. A teenager films it with his phone from behind a bush hoping for the fame that usually preceded such events. No one is sure how long it lasted but all that was left was the bodies of the dead, the cries of the wounded and two extremely proud looking cops. No one dared to speak or even move, they rather just lay there, motionlessly. Then almost as if they knew their cue, birds started chirping and a gust of wind started blowing. And for a brief moment the chaos that had just consumed this little street subsided. ?? ?? ?? ?? Slade Brooks, Mr Stubbs, English yr11 ...read more.

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Here's what a star student thought of this essay

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Response to the question

This answer shows evidence of a good understanding of how to complete a Writing to Describe task. There are a few errors that can be spotted as early as the first paragraph though, and it's a big problem for many ...

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Response to the question

This answer shows evidence of a good understanding of how to complete a Writing to Describe task. There are a few errors that can be spotted as early as the first paragraph though, and it's a big problem for many GCSE English Writing to Describe tasks - that the candidate often goes overboard on the adjectives and adverbs, which can both compromise the fluidity and realism of the prose and also may lead to contradiction of terms, both of which are an issue here, preventing top marks. An example would be calling the sewer "tranquil" yet "unappealing". Whilst the second adjective isn't the most powerful of words it juxtaposes the word "tranquil", which in itself can feels out of place because the use of it is not developed further - why would the sewer be tranquil? It would have to be for a certain reason, rather than simply stating it. Details like this are noticeable from the first paragraph and, as this is the first thing the examiner sees, candidate must do well to form a coherent paragraph as an indication they know what they're talking about.

This issue is carried on throughout the answer, which would otherwise be a fairly sound albeit uninteresting answer. The use of the word "bureaucrats" feels clumsy - do they really spend all their night in a pub too? Sometimes imaginations must consign themselves to the limits of reality, as in this piece, which appears to choose to be a realistic portrayal of a snippet of life from a city, and yet some description simply feels unnatural or forced. Candidates must watch for this, and they must not overload their sentences with needlessly elaborate descriptive techniques. Sometimes, simple sentences and basic uses of similes, metaphors and personification can be just as effective.

Level of analysis

The Level of Description shown here is very extensive and at times feels too heavy - like the candidate has really gone to town trying to show off their vocabulary. They'll earn marks for that, naturally, but if the candidate's writing style suffers because of lead-heavy sentences that read uncomfortably due to either and overuse or misuse of adjectives and adverbs, then they will lose marks on essay structure and clarity. I would also argue that colloquialisms like "cops" juxtapose the rest of the piece, and should be avoided in all exam work/coursework unless it is specifically required in order to attain a certain narrative effect.

Quality of writing

The Quality of Written Communication (QWC) in terms of spelling, punctuation and grammar is pretty well augmented. The candidate makes no obvious errors with regard to the rules of Standard English. However, the clarity can be called to question because the language the candidate uses often feels heavy-handed (e.g. "two extremely proud cops" - would they really be feeling proud? What about relieved? Exhausted? Scared, maybe? What about feeling worried for the safety of the people in the street?). And so the candidate loses a couple of marks in QWC because of this, but overall the QWC is still fairly average.

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Reviewed by sydneyhopcroft 06/08/2012

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