Lesson video

In progress...



I'm Ms. Gayle, and welcome to today's English lesson.

Our focus today is on refining punctuation in creative writing.

This is going to be your opportunity to showcase all the excellent work that you've done on developing your technical accuracy and mastery of grammar in a piece of creative writing.

Take a moment to clear any distractions away, and make sure you have everything you need at hand.

You'll just need a pen and paper.

What do you know about descriptive writing? Descriptive writing is one form of creative writing that you've probably done a lot of at school.

Descriptive writing is when you write to describe, and you should aim to capture a moment in vivid detail.

Sometimes, you might use an image as a prompt.

You find descriptive passages in all kinds of writing, including narratives and non-fiction.

The aim of a description is to spark the reader's imagination and allow them to experience the moment you are describing.

You should always choose your vocabulary and imagery carefully, and a description should capture some big picture ideas, as well as the tiny details.

Pause the video just to make sure that you are clear on the purpose of descriptive writing, and how to make it effective using those ideas we've just discussed.

Well done.

You should have written something like this.

Descriptive writing aims to capture a moment in vivid detail and spark a reader's imagination.

When you're writing a description, you should choose your vocabulary and imagery carefully and include the big picture as well as the tiny details.

Today then, our aim is to transport our reader here, to this stadium where the athletes you can see are in the middle of intense elite competition.

This race is called a steeplechase.

Runners race three kilometres around the track with obstacles like hurdles and the water jumps you can see on your screen.

It's quite an exciting one to watch at the Olympics.

I've chosen this image because it's full of action.

It's got really interesting setting and background, and there are lots of different things you might choose to focus on in your writing.

In descriptive writing, it's all about how you want the reader to see and experience this moment in time.

Take a moment to look at the image and pause the video here, just to take 30 seconds to make a list of any words that come into your head as you look at the scene as a whole.

Here's mine.

You can see them on the screen now in the green box.

Race, leap, blue, strength, speed, splash, jump, muscles, sky, water, focus, grit, tension, sinews, fly, sprint, spring, stadium, and officials.

And they were just the first words that came into my head when I looked at that picture.

This say what you see approach can be a good way to initially get you thinking about the things you might focus on in that image, and it can help you to already have some of the vocabulary that you might use in your writing and refine later, come to the front of your mind.

So I'd like you to look at the image again.

This time, pick out just one of the figures that you can see, and try to imagine the scene from their perspective, or focus on their experience.

You could think about the five senses.

Sight, hearing, smell, touch, taste, and think about what they might be feeling.

Then I want you to look again, at a different aspect of the scene.

You should be starting now to develop a long list in your notes, of words, phrases, and ideas you might be able to describe.

When we're preparing to write, remember it can be helpful to remind ourselves of the writing process, and writing always begins with the thoughts and ideas you generate.

Without this important thinking stage, you won't be able to write very much, or very effectively.

So you need to think about what you're talking about, the content you're going to include, and the relationship you're going to try and build between the reader and the writer.

Once you've generated these initial ideas, we can then start to plan and organise our ideas into a sequence that works and make sense, and it's going to be a convincing and powerful description.

Then we're ready to start drafting our ideas.

And remember, that doesn't necessarily happen on paper, and often, your draughts are just internal thoughts or ideas.

Well, we've already started to draught some words and phrases that we might want to use in our description.

Then we start to critique and think, is that the best word? Is that the best phrase? And after we've done all that, we're ready to write, thinking about the accuracy of our writing, the clarity of our ideas, and the power of our descriptions.

So we should have now a bank of words and phrases, and some ideas about different things going on in that scene.

So now we need to refine that and start thinking about the sequencing of our writing.

I'm going to break that down for you a little bit, and I want you to write a sentence about each of the sections that are highlighted here on your screen.

Here's my example.

I've chosen to write using the present tense to add to the excitement, and I've tried to use a colon as well as dashes to inject additional detail.

For the first runner, I've written that he powers out of the water with strong, sinuous strides, every muscle bursting into action.

For the second, arms raised in flight, he drops down into the water with the grace and ease of a ballet dancer.

The third runner, I've written that his heart thumps and his body screams as he urges his exhausted legs, now feeling numb and gelatinous, to make the final leap.

Have a look at the sentences you wrote.

Do you think you managed to add excitement imagery and carefully chosen vocabulary? If not, why not go back now and refine and critique what you wrote in those three sentences.

See if you could improve it, perhaps using some of the vocabulary that I've got there on the screen.

When you've done that, I want you to think about the order that you might describe different elements in the picture, and try to come up with a plan of what you're going to write about in what sequence.

Well done.

Now I want you to think about the details and the bigger picture.

So we're going to think about beyond the runners and their experience.

What else is going on in that image that we might describe? Just write down in your notes some brief answers to these questions.

Obviously, they're all up to you.

This is creative writing and you're in control of this scene.

So I want you to think about why the stadium might be empty, what sounds you might be able to hear, what's the weather like? What are the officials doing in the background? How might the runners be feeling? We're going to start drafting some more ideas now, and at the same time, we're going to recap some of the grammatical rules we've studied in this unit.

So remember, we're describing this scene.

You can pick out any image you like, and we're going to start with semicolons.

Can you remember how to use a semicolon? A semicolon links two main clauses that are related.

For example, this instruction on the top of your screen is a semicolon sentence.

I've got two main clauses linked by that semicolon in the middle.

So it's your turn now.

Write a semicolon sentence about the image on your screen.

Next, I'd like you write a sentence using brackets.

Can you remember how to use brackets? Remember, brackets are used to show parenthesis.

So that extra information that's optional, in the middle of a sentence.

For example, write a sentence, about the image, using brackets.

Pause the video to write down your sentence now.

Next, I'd like you to write a sentence using a colon.

Now remember, how do we use a colon? A colon introduces, explains, emphasises, or clarifies.

For example, write a sentence using a colon, like this.

Remember you can think about the colon as a flashing arrow drawing our attention to what comes next.

Well done.

So we've started drafting some ideas, now it's time to think about connecting our ideas together.

Here's a quick reminder of the success criteria you can expect in a piece of descriptive writing like this.

Always, when we're doing a piece of creative writing, we should be thinking about the organisation, the vocabulary selection, and our technical control.

So we need to convince and engage our reader, link and develop ideas, make sure we're structuring for effect by making deliberate choices, we should choose vocabulary carefully and precisely, we should use imagery and linguistic devices for effect, and try and sustain a style and tone consistently throughout a piece of writing.

And in terms of technical control, you need to make sure you're using a range of punctuation accurately, and that will help you to use a range of sentence structures to continue to engage your reader.

So now it's time to start drafting our ideas in a little bit more detail.

I'm going to show you an example to start you off, and then I'd like you to have a go at describing this image, transporting your reader into that moment that you can see on the screen.

So remember, today our aim is to transport our reader here, and through your description, you need to make sure that your reader is able to empathise and experience alongside these runners exactly what they're going through.

Here's an example that I would like you to read, and you can use that to help you to structure your own description in a moment.

We had just cleared the final jump, not far to go now.

The race's rhythmic beat, leap and splash, leap and splash, was beginning to fade and distort as some, like me, began to stagger and stumble, while others seemed to slip away at lightning pace.

I watched the runners in front of me, all six of them, powering out of the water, every muscle driving forward with superhuman strides, every sinew stretched tight in focused determination.

My own hunched and flailing body was beginning to show signs of fatigue.

My heart pounded and my muscles felt like heavy gelatinous lumps of flesh.

They were slowing me down, not carrying me on.

I yearned for the roar of the crowd, for the stirring of adrenaline that had long since run dry.

So I've chosen to do it in the first person as you can see, so that I can really capture the feelings of the runner, but that's not to say that I'm not still describing that moment.

It's still focusing on all of the different elements of the scene.

You will notice as well that I've used some of the words and phrases from my original planning that I've now refined and reflected on so that they've come together in a bit more of a coherent structure.

So it's your turn now to have a go at writing your description.

Well done.

Now I'd love for you to self-assess your writing, thinking about your organisation, vocabulary selection, and technical control.

As you read through your writing, you might notice some errors, or you might notice areas where you could include additional imagery or link ideas more effectively, and if so, you might want to make those adjustments.

Well done, and thank you for your focus today.

I hope you enjoy the rest of your learning.

But before you get to that, remember to complete the quiz at the end of the lesson.