COMPOSING SECTION – STEP 1:  Deciding WHAT to write (i.e. FORM)

By Yr 12 you should have some idea of your writing strengths.  You may be a kick ass story writer, you may have a great sense of humor and wit that lends itself to satirical articles or you may be a speech writer good enough to outdo Obama.

Or you may have absolutely no idea what your strengths are and deciding what to write in this section makes you want to vomit!  If that is the case, our advice is to choose the FORM you find the easiest to write in and go from there 😊

The trick it to make it really clear to the marker what FORM you are writing in.

This is where SIGNPOSTING is really valuable.

Do you recognise the following FORMS of writing based on the SIGNPOSTING in their openings?

TIP:  DIARY OR JOURNAL WRITING should focus on exploring the emotions, attitudes, values, beliefs, fears, dreams, motivations etc. of an individual (non-fiction) or character (fiction).  It’s a highly EMOTIVE AND PERSONAL FORM of writing.  That’s why people hide diaries/journals or lock them up, especially from getting into the hands of a little brother or sister!


TIP:  ARTICLE / FEATURE ARTICLE - you gotta know your stuff!  Particularly about SOCIAL ISSUES in the world:  the problems with plastic and the impact on our environment, the refugee crisis, how social media is affecting our privacy and security etc.  ARTICLE writing relies on facts, statistics and hard evidence (anecdotes, quotations, specific examples etc).  Your ideas need to be strong.

ALSO, they can come from texts you’ve studied during the year – gender inequality (The Handmaid’s Tale), PTSD in soldiers (Slaughterhouse Five), gun control in America (Bowling for Columbine) etc.


TIP:  Open your DEBATING SPEECH with some sort of HOOK or OPENING STATEMENT and then address the audience and topic.  It’s a little more sophisticated that way.  Also, DEBATES can be a great FORM for exam questions that ask you to “construct two brief texts that represent different perspectives.”  First speaker of the AFF versus first speak of the NEG.


TIP:  When writing DRAMA SCRIPTS use the STAGE DIRECTIONS to show setting, symbolism and actions of the characters.  The DIALOGUE will drive the ideas or issues so be sure to tap into the attitudes, values and beliefs of the characters you’ve constructed when writing their dialogue.  And of course, lay it out as you would expect to read it in a script.


TIP:  SPEECHES rely on strong content knowledge (ideas, issues, attitudes, values) and all the RHETORICAL DEVICES that speech writers draw on.  Again, a HOOK is the best way to start – as shown in this excerpt from Stan Grant’s speech from 2015.


TIP:  NARRATIVE + GENRE.  Try lifting the sophistication of your story by writing in a particular GENRE.  You can tell this excerpt is a THRILLER NARRATIVE because of the conventions associated with the THRILLER GENREdark night, bad weather, female protagonist (alone) in entirely inappropriate footwear, phone is flat, isolated train platform, only one tiny light.  Proper scary stuff!

Write in a Science Fiction genre, or Zombie genre, or Fantasy or Dystopian or Western (to name a few)


  • Opinion Piece
  • Editorial/Column
  • Online Blog
  • Letter to the Editor
  • Interview (Radio, TV, Podcast)
  • Personal Letter form a particular era, take on a persona
  • Autobiographical Narrative from the perspective of a character or individual
  • Newspaper Report
  • Obituary
  • Film/Book Review
  • Essay

NEXT POST:   The Composing Section Step 2 – Deciding WHY to write? (PURPOSE)

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