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Author Topic: Books for improving in English and Literature  (Read 7576 times)  Share 

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Re: Books for improving in English and Literature
« Reply #15 on: February 14, 2012, 12:34:28 pm »
Read "Ransom" from the VCAA list. I swear he has just written a simple book and then gone to random words and done a "right-click->synonyms" thing. It gets quite figurative at times and he uses a lot of metaphors, so that's a good one to pick up on vocab and sentence structure :)


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Re: Books for improving in English and Literature
« Reply #16 on: February 14, 2012, 12:54:45 pm »
Simply read. Pick up news articles and read them and analyse them, read fiction, read non-fiction, read essays. Ask your teacher for past students' essays and analyse what a good essay looks like. Look at it as formulaic; you need to have a clear introduction. Make sure it flows, make sure it has some leeway to slot in sub-points and spice things up with some nice vocabulary. Although, be mindful of vocabulary and do not bury your reader in a mountain of sumptuous ripostes, jargon and what not. You are here to analyse the text in terms of what it suggests within certain parameters. A good Literature or English essay looks at the literary nuances and fits them into a general theme and what it suggests about that theme under those predications. Discuss the author's potential rationale for inclusion of certain words and their connotations linking back to your prompt (unless, of course, you have set your own "prompt" for Literature). Recognise tone, recognise multiple interpretations.

You cannot simply read a book and do this; you must actually engage with the text. If you just feel words dripping from your pen and expressing exactly how you felt when you read a certain section, you are embedding passion into your piece. Make that nice framework, the formulaic stuff I talked about, have some life. You need to emotionally and cerebrally engage with a text to be at the top of the grading pile. Examiners are responsive to passion in English and Literature, as it makes your piece stand out from the mediocre, run of the mill academic regurgitation from the study guides. By all means use the formulaic stuff in the guides, but do not think that alone makes a great essay.
« Last Edit: February 14, 2012, 12:58:30 pm by Mech »
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Re: Books for improving in English and Literature
« Reply #17 on: February 16, 2012, 09:18:36 am »
Excellent advice from Mech, +1!

Don't get bombarded with this mentality that you must think, read and write better after reading these novels. Yes, they are all brilliant and you can learn heaps from them about how language is put together, analysing themes, etc. but don't underestimate the huge resource you have in your teachers! They have made it their life's work to master the subject/s they teach, so by all means pick their brains! Also pick the brains of the top students in your class/es. Debate with them, swap essays, take notes from what got them an A+ on an essay..

By all means learn from these fabulous texts, but you don't have to start loving a new genre of writing to earn top marks in your subjects. Don't feel pressure to start using the same language that you're reading here, unless you're 100% comfortable with it and it works well in your essay. There is no point padding up an essay come exam day with extra fluff just to aim for more marks when you can speak to your examiner in, er, 'simpler' words that show your argument more logically and get marked even higher.
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Re: Books for improving in English and Literature
« Reply #18 on: February 24, 2012, 10:25:29 pm »
Catch-22, definitely. The reasons are so manifold I actually have to list them: It is fun to read as it is a brilliantly executed satire almost every sentence has a joke, at least until you reach the second half of the novel which is blacker; If you don't know how to do something in prose: this book shows you how to do it. You want to do seemless flashbacks and flashforwards mid-sentence(!)? Heller is the master of it. You want to use multiple narrators, but can't seem to get the transitions to work? Heller is the master of that too! You want to break every rule in the rulebook? Too bad, Heller did it first.
You simply want to know the proper way of setting out dialogue? Or maybe you want vocabulary you are actually likely to find yourself able to use regardless of what the topic is? Heller is the textbook.

If you are doing Whose Reality? it has some good stuff on that, but moreso if you are studying Spies because of some great ideas Heller plays with involving the nature of memory, however it is best if you are studying Encountering Conflict because it is a satire about World War II and is filled with discussions about patriotism, disregard for the lives of soldiers, and the psychological truama associated with going to war. The entire novel is about that in some way or other, and it is considered to be one of the greatest novels ever written on the subject.
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