How to write a good English composition
THE IMPORTANCE OF PLANNING
Very often, when writing compositions, primary school students write whatever comes to their minds. This is a huge mistake.
It is important to always take about 5 minutes to plan your composition before writing.
Your plan gives you a structure for your story. It provides a framework for your writing.
HOW TO PLAN A COMPOSITION
There are many ways to plan a composition. The question is, which is the best way for a primary school student? When time is a constraint, especially during tests and examinations, we need a planning tool that is simple yet effective.
COMPOSITION WRITING FRAMEWORK
In our Writing Academy, students learn a simple framework that they can use to plan and write their compositions. Using this framework, students can plan an entire composition in less than 5 minutes.
There are 3 parts to a composition – INTRODUCTION, BODY, CONCLUSION. The framework covers each of these 3 parts.
Let’s look at these 3 parts of a composition:
PART 1: INTRODUCTION
The introduction is where readers decide whether the story is worth reading or not. Therefore, it is important for students to learn to write captivating introductions.
Some common ways to begin a composition are:
1. BEGIN WITH SPEECH
Begin your story with a direct speech. Let your character say something captivating.
2. BEGIN WITH ACTIONS
Begin your story with actions. Let your character do something.
3. BEGIN WITH A DESCRIPTION
This can either be a description of the character, the setting or a combination of both.
Ask yourself these questions:
- What was the character doing at the beginning of the story?
- How was he/she feeling?
- What could he/she be saying?
- Where did the story take place? Can you describe the setting using at least 2 of your 5 senses? (It is perfectly fine to describe the setting as the story progresses too.)
PART 2: BODY
The body of a composition is the most important part. It is where the ‘meat’ of the story is.
There are 3 parts in the body of a composition:
1. EVENTS LEADING TO THE PROBLEM (RISING ACTION)
Most captivating stories include a conflict (or problem) that the main character has to face and solve. A story without a conflict can be plain and uninteresting. A big mistake that many students make is to describe the problem immediately after the introduction. In doing so, the composition faces the risk of being under-developed.
Students need to learn to write the events leading to the problem, before proceeding to describe the problem.
Events leading to the problem can be a description of what happened before the climax. Students can describe what the character(s) did or did not do that directly led to the problem. It is also commonly known as the rising action of a story.
The rising action does not have to be long. However, it must build up the tension in the story, leading to the climax.
2. THE CONFLICT (PROBLEM)
As mentioned, this is the ‘meat’ of the story, the part that contains the most details. This is where you should describe as much action and characters’ emotions as possible. The use of direct speech here helps to bring life to the story too.
Students’ content marks is mostly dependent on what he/she writes in this part of the composition. So, it is vital to learn to write the conflict well.
For their compositions to be well-developed, students can include multiple conflicts. Let the main character face a number of problems in the story, leading to the climax.
3. THE RESOLUTION (SOLUTION)
The third part of the body of a composition is the resolution (or solution to the problem). It is also known as the falling action.
Unfortunately, this is also the part where many students rush through, either due to a lack of time or lack of ideas.
Somehow, primary school students like to use a figure of authority to solve the conflict in their compositions. I highly suspect this is due to the culture we live in. Kids are used to having their problems solved by the adults in their lives! Some food for thought here. 🙂
The authority figures who frequently make their appearances in primary school compositions are usually policemen, firemen, teachers or parents. These ‘superheroes’ usually appear almost instatnly, out of nowhere, to solve the problem for the character and the story ends.
It is rare to read compositions where the conflict is solved by the protagonist of the story.
Now, in some composition topics, there is no choice but to involve authority figures to solve the problem. If that is the case, what students can do is to at least describe the character’s attempts to solve the problem before help arrives.
To write a good resolution, ask yourself these questions:
- What could the main character do to solve the problem?
- How did he/she feel when attempting to solve the problem?
PART 3: CONCLUSION
Once the resolution is written, do not forget to wrap up the composition. The conclusion is where we tie up all the loose ends and bring the story to a close. It is vital that we give readers a satisfactory ending and not leave them hanging or in doubt at the end of the story.
What you can write in the conclusion:
1. Character’s reflections and thoughts about what happened.
2. Character’s feelings about what happened.
3. Character’s concluding actions or decision for future actions.
4. Restate the topic if applicable.
As challenging as it might be, it is not impossible to write a good piece of composition. Writing is a skill. Just like learning a musical instrument, learning how to write well takes time and much practice.
The key is to keep writing, get feedback and write some more. There is simply no shortcut.
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