Essay Writing: Speeches

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Good writing consists of three stages:

  1. Pre-writing
  2. Writing
  3. Post-writing and proofreading
  1. Pre-writing: Brainstorm, cluster, organise ideas, think about expression and vocab, produce an outline (paragraph by paragraph detailed plan) – know the ending before you begin.
  2. Writing: Write the essay (new/better ideas and forms of expression emerge as you write – incorporate them). Focus on ideas, expression and structure.
  3. Post-writing and proofreading: Always revise your essay – for homework assignments, make time to edit your first draft and produce a second draft. Add, omit, change ideas. Change the order of ideas. Improve expression and sentence structure. Check spelling, punctuation and grammar. In exam conditions – re-read and improve where possible.

The best way to improve your writing is to keep writing. Also read a variety of material – fiction, biographies, sports journals, newspapers, etc – to gather inspiration for new ideas and good styles of writing.

When it comes to writing speeches, here are is a checklist that will help you during all three stages of the writing process:

Formalities of Speeches

  • Opening address
  • Choosing a side
  • Overall defense or attack of the motion
  • Include audience – you, we
  • Appeal to the audience
  • Final confirmation of truth of your chosen side 

Persuasive Devices

  • Repetition
  • Rhetorical Questions
  • Triadic Phrasing (The Rule of Three), Listing
  • Alliteration
  • Metaphors, Similes
  • Hyperbole, Understatement
  • Anecdote; Humour

Features of a Good Essay

  1. Attention grabbing intro
  2. Summarising, thought-provoking conc (no new ideas)
  3. Focus on the task in every paragraph
  4. Original, fresh ideas
  5. One distinct idea per paragraph (topic)
  6. Logical flow from one paragraph to the next
  7. Examples, evidence, facts, support for distinct idea (topic)
  8. First and last sentence of each paragraph – still on same topic
  9. Transitions between paragraphs where possible/appropriate
  10. Advanced level of expression and vocabulary, appropriate word choice
  11. Sentence structure – accurate and varied
  12. Punctuation – accurate
  13. Accurate spelling and grammar

Points 1 – 4 above will gain you marks under the heading of Purpose (30%); 5 – 8 under the heading of Coherence (30%); 9 – 12 under Language (30%); point 13 under Mechanics (10%).

Two Approaches to Answering Poetry: Yeats 2010

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When answering a Leaving Certificate Poetry question, the key is to answer the question. That might seem obvious but not every stays on task throughout the whole answer. The question must be responded to from the outset, so engagement with the task from the introduction, through the main body and right into the conclusion. Take a look at the following approaches to answering the 2010 question on W.B. Yeats:

2010 – “Yeats’s poetry is driven by a tension between the real world in which he lives and the ideal world that he imagines.” Write a response to the poetry of W.B. Yeats in the light of this statement, supporting your points with suitable reference to the poems on your course.
Ideas: 
Tension – struggle – conflict – dichotomy
Represented through contrast, antithesis, irony, balances, symbolism, paradox, oxymoron, repetition, etc…
Real v ideal –
Past and present
Mortality and immortal
Memory and reality
Hopes and reality
The effects of time
The fact of change
Disappointment with life
Thematic Approach
Intro: Address the task – use synonyms and the same words
Refer to overall themes that encompass the requirements of the task eg political issues, personal changes, the effects of time, disappointment with the world as we know it
What to expect in the essay
MB 1 & 2: Focus on the task
Political issues – Sept 1913 and Easter 1916
Include aspects of style, personal engagement, hammer the task home
MB 3: Focus on the task
The effects of time – In Memory
Include aspects of style, personal engagement, hammer the task home
MB 4: Focus on the task
Personal changes, the desire for immortality – Wild Swans* and Sailing to Byzantium
Include aspects of style, personal engagement, hammer the task home
MB 5: Focus on the task
Disappointment with the world – Wild Swans* and An Irish Airman
Include aspects of style, personal engagement, hammer the task home
Conc: Sum up key ideas
Relate all to the task (synonyms)
Personal engagement
(*Brief reference to one poem is acceptable – five poems in great depth.)
Poem by Poem Approach (Solid intro and conc needed – similar to Thematic Approach)
1. ‘September 1913’ – Past and present – public and political
2. ‘Easter 1916’ – Ideal aspirations v real tragedy – public and political
3. ‘In Memory of…’ – Memory and reality – public and personal
4. ‘Wild Swans…’ – Mortality and Immortality – personal
5. ‘Sailing…’ – Mortality and Immortality – personal
6. ‘An Irish Airman…’ – life’s futility vs freedom through death
Whichever approach you take: in every paragraph refer to theme, aspects of style and respond personally. Stay focussed on the task from beginning to end (ie respond to the question).