Using a range of writing structures

As we have said, you may well employ more than one kind of writing structure in any one assignment. For example, in the course of writing an account of the causes of homelessness you may have to include a chronological historical account. An assignment about the chronological history of women's writing may also include some analysis of individual works by women writers. Let us take as an example the following assignment: 'Parents have ultimate responsibility for their children's delinquent behaviour. Discuss.'

Chronology writing

You might give a historical account of different attitudes to young offenders; or use a case study in which you recount what happened in a particular case of a young offender.

Compare/contrast

You might want to compare what two writers say on the topic.

Writer A

Writer B

Believes that the family set-up is an important

Believes that factors in society are more

factor in juvenile delinquency.

important.

Believes that young children can be taught

Believes that young children cannot be held

right and wrong at home and school.

responsible for their actions.

This would also involve you in some summarizing because you would need to write about what each writer says on the matter. However, you would do this selectively in relation to how you were using the author's work for this assignment (see more about this in Chapter 8).

Analysis writing

In addressing this assignment title you would not (of course) just answer 'yes' or 'no'. You would consider different positions that have been taken on juvenile delinquency and weigh them up. Here is one possible format:

• What are these positions about juvenile delinquency?

• What attitudes or assumptions about what children are like or about what family life is like do these positions suggest?

• What policies and action follow from them?

As a part of this analysis you will also need to evaluate these different positions and come to some judgement about them.

In this section we have been considering what kind of work your university writing may be doing, which to a large extent determines how it is organized into its shape. Bearing these kinds of structures in mind, both in your reading and your writing, helps you to become more conscious of what you are doing, and so to do it better.

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