Composing Section- Tips for Success and Areas for Development

  • Need to be more discerning with the central narrative. In some responses, there were competing narratives which got in the way of the event you wanted to tell me about. Stick to one central narrative and get to it as quickly and as efficiently as possible.
  • Don’t spend too long on the exposition of your response. You haven’t got time. I need to be there in the thick of the action as soon as possible. In some responses, the first page was spent setting the scene which meant there wasn’t enough time to tell me the things you really wanted to tell me.
  • Guard against the generic, cliched and stereotypical imagery as this can detract from the authenticity of your voice. If an image is over-familiar, the reader might lose confidence in the control of your narrative. It becomes less interesting for them.
  • Technical accuracy is important. Leave enough time to check for missing full stops, capital letters, question marks etc. Don’t use a comma where a full stop might work a lot better.
  • Guard against changes in tense. Autobiographical texts are almost exclusively written in the past tense. In some responses, there were changes in tense within the response and this implies a lack of full control in the writing process.
  • Some responses were brief. You will be expected to write something that is both controlled and sustained in your WACE examination so please be aware of this.
  • Some responses were introspective and melancholic without much in the way of excitement and action. While this approach can work, be aware that your reader might demand more of your text than you actually deliver.
  • If you write about sport, do so with an original voice and don’t make it sound like in-game commentary.
  • The most effective responses had a clear and distinctly original voice that was sustained throughout the response.
  • Sometimes setting was under-developed.
  • Some responses used humour really effectively. Don’t be scared to be inventive either.
  • Don’t overuse dialogue. When used effectively, it can enhance a narrative. When there’s too much of it (particularly where the dialogue is largely incidental), it can slow the narrative down and your response can get bogged down by it.
  • Guard against predictable responses where the reader is able to signpost what happens early on in the response.
  • Guard against writing about events which people know a lot about already, the AFL Grand Final for example. Most people know what happened so if you’re going to do so, you’re going to have to do it in a very quirky, unusual way.
  • When writing about a place, try not to make it read like a Trip Advisor post or some kind of travelogue.
  • Language is still powerful. Cherish the potential of words and don’t force the imagery when it’s not required. The most effective responses are those with precision of imagery and an economy of language.
  • Be more selective in the content. Some of the stuff described in your responses could be considered largely irrelevant and incidental. You have to be judicious in what you include… and what you leave out.
  • Don’t be repetitive with imagery/language. Don’t be repetitive with imagery/language. Don’t be repetitive with imagery/language.

Podcast Resources


Here is a link to a FANTASTIC resource which might prove useful in your podcast assessment. You will be given time in class to work on this, but it will only be a limited amount.

How to Start a Podcast in 18 Steps

  1. Why are you Doing a Podcast?
  2. Who is Your Podcast for?
  3. Why Should they Listen?
  4. Naming your Podcast
  5. How Long Should an Episode be?
  6. How Often Should I Release an Episode?
  7. Choosing Good Episode Titles
  8. Choosing a Podcast Format
  9. Recording Equipment
  10. Recording & Editing Software
  11. Scripting your Show
  12. How to Talk into a Mic
  13. Recording Remote Guests or Co-Hosts
  14. Editing your Podcast
  15. Music for your Podcast
  16. Creating Podcast Coverart
  17. How to Publish your Podcast
  18. Next Steps After you Launch

Personal Writing- Modelled and Annotated Example

Here’s a version of the modelled example from our last lesson. As you can see, this version has been annotated to highlight the language selection and some of the literary features of the response.

Make sure you look at the annotations carefully as this will allow you to explore some of the ways in which the text has been constructed to invite a specific response from the reader.

Personal Writing- An Example

Personal Writing

First Day at University

 As my step-dad’s car rumbled through the gates of my new home, taking care to avoid the groups of students huddled together, I could feel my heart slowly beginning to sink into the darkest recesses of my body. What should’ve been a celebration of being the first Jakeway to go to university, suddenly felt more like being dragged to the gallows. It didn’t feel right.

My fiancée grabbed my hand and her smile said something that faintly suggested she was trying (and failing) to reassure me that everything was going to be OK. My mother was busying herself with the occasion whilst trying not to give away her own sense of grief. It was certainly a morbidly chastening experience.

The university itself was bathed in sunshine and the chapel’s roof pointed to the sky, as if to say ‘the only way is up from here’. And a majestic sight it was too. It resembled a gilded crown, all glass and steel pointing to the heavens but at the moment all I felt was that it was crown that was far too big for my own head, like Macbeth’s ‘borrowed robes’. I’d always considered myself to be smart, but at the moment all I felt was a fraud.

The Students’ Union building was our intended destination. It was here that I was to be dropped off, deposited. Abandoned. Apparently the university had planned some of those tedious ice-breaking ‘games’ to welcome all the new, scarf-wearing undergraduates to Canterbury Christ Church College, to soften the blow. I looked into the faces of those gathered around me and many of them seemed more ‘up for it’ than I was. Even at 23, I felt I was too old for this kind of nonsense but I sauntered into the room nonetheless and struggled to get my bearings over the mic-wielding MC who was struggling to establish a carnival atmosphere.

However, it was time to say goodbye to my mother, step-dad and fiancée. As we shared our last hugs, they turned and walked out of the door. I tried unsuccessfully to stifle the tears that demanded to make themselves known to everyone and I trudged reluctantly towards the margins of bar where the Freshers Week was taking place. As the tears continued, suddenly I was four again, and this was my primary school, and I was all alone, and scared. A stranger in a strange town, where no-one knew me or even cared.


Teaching and Learning Points:

  • I have no idea if this is how things happened. There is a kernel of truth in there (I really did cry!) but I have little recollection of the precise order of things. This is how I IMAGINED the memory, what I would LIKE it to look like.
  • I’ve tried to create a strong sense of mood, the anticipation of going to university is contrasted with the fear, the reluctance, the sense of loss, of being alone.
  • I come across as a bit cynical in places but I also wanted to capture the very different moods/emotions I was faced with.
  • I try and describe the setting but I don’t allow it to dominate the piece.
  • Look at the selection of vocabulary used. the car ‘rumbled’, I ‘stifle’ a tear, I ‘sauntered’ into the room. These words, for example, do a lot of heavy lifting.
  • This is meant to be entertaining, though not particularly humorous.


What does your memory look like on the page?

Persuasive Text- Sample Response

The following question was taken from the 2019 Semester 1 Year 12 ATAR English examination produced by the ETAWA:


Create a persuasive text aimed at a teenage audience which starts with an anecdote.


Question Deconstruction and Planning 

As with all questions, we need to break it down and make sure that we understand what the question is asking of us. We need to understand what the key discriminators are and get our thoughts organised before we begin writing.

Let’s break this question down…

  1. ‘persuasive text’- this means the text of a speech that might be performed in front of a teenage audience. This is your AUDIENCE.
  2. ‘teenage audience’- while this is your AUDIENCE, you also need to consider the CONTEXT of your persuasive text. Is it performed at a school assembly? An awards night? At a conference where many schools have congregated?
  3. PURPOSE- what is your speech going to be about? What is the content? Is it appropriate and relevant to a teenage audience?
  4. Do you know what an ‘anecdote’ is? (Definition- a short story or an interesting or entertaining incident)


Possible Topics 

Climate change


Gender equality… Yeah… this one.

Social media

Instagram and its effect on body image


University- the first year

Environmental issues- recycling etc.


Cultural change

Lowering the age to vote


Sample Response (Gender Equality) 


I lead a very glamorous life. VERY. Some might even say that I’m living the dream and I guess I am. So… here’s a real, authentic and honest account of a shopping trip to Coles. I was pushing my fully-laden trolley down the cleaning products isle when a woman remarked to me that I was very brave. It took me a moment to process what she said, before she pointed at my bright pink fingernails. My daughters often ‘treat’ me to a manicure and this week, their chosen colour was hot pink. And there I was in Coles not really aware of anything much, other than trying to get the shopping done with minimum fuss. My only response was a muttered, stuttered ‘thanks’ and I continued shunting my recalcitrant trolley onwards. But then I thought… ‘How the hell are my hot pink fingernails a symbol of bravery?’ Have I reached the apex of bravery by being seen IN PUBLIC with bright pink fingernails? And what would the people in war-torn countries, asylum seekers on perilous seas in rickety boats or a soldier with a gun in their hand think?


In truth, the answer is perfectly simple and it’s ludicrous to think that a middle-aged man strutting his stuff with hot pink fingernails is in anyway brave at all. It isn’t. Or, at least, it shouldn’t be as the gender binary is slowly being challenged and contested. As it should be. We are gathered here today to promote not only gender equality but to show our authentic face to the world and to make no apologies for it You, the adults of tomorrow, have an opportunity to construct the world in your image and what a joyous image it will be if a teenager doesn’t feel guilty about their identity, that a young person doesn’t feel guilty about who they are, or feel that they have to live a lie. Gender identity is one of the most pressing issues facing teenagers today. This convention of young people here assembled has the power to ensure no-one lives a lie anymore.


I’m horrified every time I walk into a toy shop. The stark reality is that the gender binary exists- in all its forms- whenever I’m asked to buy a present for one my daughter’s friends. The girls’ section is littered, splashed, dominated by pinks and purples, dolls and domesticity, glitter and gloss. The boys’? construction, cars, tools, science stuff. This is outrageous. Do we even stop to consider that one day our boys might be parents and that looking after a baby might be a skill worth learning? Or at least being a caring human being. I find it all quite exhausting. It really doesn’t challenge anyone’s construction of gender if a boy chooses to play with a doll, or wants to do ballet and why should it anyway?


Planning- Rest of Response

My sample response would include the following sections if I was to continue writing…


I’d go on to look at Billy Elliot (film) as an example.

Might offer a refutation/rebuttal.

Perhaps find some statistics to back this up. That the gender binary is being contested.

An appeal to our sense of values… that we want people to grow up to be their best selves, to be empathetic, to judge people on the ‘content of their character’, not by how they look.

Then I’d end with an appeal to paint your nails with pride, dance like no-one’s watching and to live an authentic self.


Teaching and Learning Points

  • I deconstructed the question BEFORE I began writing my response so that I had a very clear sense of direction. It’s important that you have a focused approach, particularly in deciding what the PURPOSE of your persuasive text is going to be BEFORE you begin writing.
  • I SHOW my audience my context, audience and purpose… I don’t TELL them it. There’s a difference.
  • First two sentences are a weak attempt at humour. I wanted to contrast the ‘glamourous life’ and ‘living the dream’ with something very mundane… shopping at Coles.
  • ‘fully-laden trolley’ is storytelling, it’s being descriptive and setting the scene for the audience. It adds to the narrative.
  • The anecdote starts off innocently and then changes into something more serious… challenging the notion of ‘bravery’.
  • There’s a rhetorical question in there to show my incredulity.
  • Notice the short sentences in the second paragraph to make my point in a short, sharp manner. They’re used for impact and to make the point to-the-point.
  • Notice the repetition in this paragraph to reinforce my message.
  • Notice the alliteration of ‘live a lie’ to reinforce my message.
  • Final sentence of the second paragraph gives the context of the persuasive text.
  • Second paragraph becomes more emotive.
  • I use hyperbole in the first sentence of the third paragraph. Being ‘horrified’ in a top shop is a gross exaggeration used to prove my point.
  • There’s a few triplets in this paragraph.
  • Note the use of alliteration to unify the imagery I use at this point.
  • More emotive language- ‘outrageous’.
  • The planning of the rest of the response shows that I would use some facts to support my argument, that I would appeal to my audience’s values and that I would offer an appeal at the end to not judge people by their appearance but by the ‘content of their character’. This, by the way, is an intertextual reference to Martin Luther King’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech.


As you can see, I’ve used a reasonable range of persuasive devices (rhetorical questions, triplets, emotive language, alliteration, anecdotes, repetition) as well as SHOWING my audience my context, audience and purpose without TELLING them it. The planning shows that I’d want to offer further proofs (facts and an appeal to values/justice) before getting to the emotional climax of my speech and offering a solution or, at least, a challenge to the audience to go out into the world to live their best lives.

The Dressmaker- Study Guide

Attached below is a study guide for The Dressmaker. You will need to read this and familiarise yourself with this information prior to viewing the film.

Dressmaker Study Guide-2jkz4qg


We will be using the document below to frame our investigation into this text:

The Dressmaker – directed by Jocelyn Moorhouse-2ip2j7h


Remember- It is essential that you view each of these texts repeatedly prior to your Semester 1 examination and prior to any assessments which might require you to respond to these texts.

Genre Study- The Western Genre

The next module of work concerns studying a particular genre. We will study two films; High Noon and The Dressmaker. High Noon can be considered a film in the Western genre. It depicts the ‘Wild West’ in uncompromising terms. The Dressmaker is more a revenge drama which borrows from the Western genre and is a more contemporary film set in Australia.

Year 12 Westerns Booklet-trwsuy

The booklet above will give you an introduction to the genre. Please read this carefully and annotate in as much detail as possible.

Themes of Westerns-2cap9yn

Read the resource above to introduce yourself to some of the dominant themes of Westerns.

Dressmaker Study Guide-2jkm3u0

Here is a study guide to The Dressmaker. There is plenty of information on both films on the internet and you’ll need to ensure you conduct detailed research on both the Western genre and the films we’ll be studying closely.


Murderball Resources

The next text we will study in Year 12 ATAR English is the documentary film Murderball. The text follows the USA quad rugby team as they prepare for the Athens Paralympic Games. The chief protagonists are Mark Zupan (a USA quad rugby player) and Joe Soares (the coach of Team Canada who once played quad rugby for the USA). We will explore the text for constructions of masculinity, how disability is constructed within a sports’ narrative and how we are positioned to respond to hegemonic masculinity, particularly in the treatment of the female characters who appear- briefly- throughout the text.

Please note that this text is studied for Section B (Responding) of the ATAR examination and it is a text you will be expected to know in significant detail. While we will watch this documentary in class (and analyse it), you will also be expected to watch this text through in your own time and build your understanding through independent research.


Here are a range of resources which will compliment your study of this course text:

Murderball Study Guide-rc7fev

Murderball Initial Close Analysis-2krd9z4

Murderball Review-1odsj35

Murderball Focus Questions and Ideas-27f6zkp

Murderball Feature Article-19ebs1i

Murderball Article-1rt50i9

Murderball Documentary Study-2kn67eg

Murderball and Masculinity-1gcl8kt

Murder Ball Visual Analysis-26pkh0x

Challenging Normalcy – Masculinity and Disability in Murderball-117yhdp


Please note that Murderball is available to view on ClickView. A link to the text is below: