Writing to describe english coursework

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Slade Brooks, Mr Stubbs, English yr11

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. The ladies of the nights hurrying along to their corners, their high heals clattering with every step. They leave a lingering scent of cheap perfume and their adventures of the night before. Each inhabitant looked as though they belonged no place but there.

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 Suddenly the shady streets burst with the melodic roar of street life; the gentle sirens in the back ground, the arguing of neighbours that have become almost mandatory in this little place, the roar of the cars as they sped past and the sound of their horns when trapped like a corned beast, the incessant dog barking, the booming music with its heavy bass filling the streets and the wind whistling through the gaps in the buildings.

There is a road leading past the bushes and through the park, driven rough by boys coming out of the ...

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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.

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.

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.