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HOW TO WRITE A GOOD COMPOSITION

What is a composition

i) It is a piece of creative writing. ii) It is a way of communicating through writing with intent to: a) Give a clear mental picture to the reader i.e. the reader should be able to perceive in his or her mind, as clearly as possible, what the writer is communicating. The reader should not ask such questions as why' What' When' and How' The story should answer all these questions by itself. b) Entertain - apart from convincing, a good piece of writing should be able to entertain as well. The reader should be able to enjoy the story to its fullest depth such that if it is a happy story, the reader should 'smile' or 'laugh' with the writer, likewise if it is a sad story, the reader should be able to 'cry' with the writer. How does one achieve the above' a) Choice of story

This will depend on the type of story one is given to write on (in an examination situation for example)

Never be writing if you are not sure of the direction the story will take. Take time to digest, understand and internalise the given topic or bening, whatever' Like a doctor, who first understands a patient by taking the temperature, heartbeat e.t.c: so should a good writer understand the question asked. Do not pick a story if you do not know how it will end. Many times when writers rush to write their stories, they get midway and do not know how to continue and because they have to achieve length, they end up just putting in words that make no sense to the story, at times they write two or more stories in one. b) Choice of words

The words in a story are very important. Remember fine feathers make fine words, like a house, they are the bricks used, if they are of fine quality, the end product will also be fine. Do not just use any words when writing. Choose the appropriate words that suit the occasion. For example if the story is about a happy event like a wedding ceremony or a birthday party the words used by the writer should reflect this, the dressing should be neat and beautiful, the food should be good, the weather should be fine and warm. All these end up making the occasion a happy moment you do not want to forget. c) Flow

A well thought story should be made up of a sequence of events that are related to each other. A sentence must have something to do with the one before or after it. *Since sentences make paragraphs, a paragraph should be a fully developed, convincing group of sentences. The ideas in one paragraph should prepare the reader for the next paragraph such that by the end of the story, what the writer wanted to communicate should be clear and understandable. Sample these two writers writing about the same things: d) Give detail but do not over do it. A good writer gives all basic necessary detail. A poor writer assumes that the reader knows what he or she wants to talk about and just moves on. An example of a writer who does riot give detail is one whose reader will ask questions like why' How' When' Who' What' e) Be real

Unless you have been asked to write science fiction or stories from mars, do not write things that cannot happen. Write things that are possible to human beings. Remember the examiner knows your age and level of experience and does not expect you to write outside that. A pupil once wrote this; f) Choose a story that you can handle

It is said that you should only bite what you can chew. To protect yourself from getting stranded midway your story, take time to think of a story from the places, events and experiences, that you are familiar with. Take stories from home, the market or supermarket, the school (library, dining hall, assembly)

 

g) Be simple in your writing: The use of pompous (big) words does not make you a good writer. Good writing is all about effective communication. One does not have to send the reader to the dictionary many times to show that he or she is a good writer. h) Be unique

Many candidates are tempted to read other people's good stories and produce the same. Some with photographic memories even reproduce particular names of characters. Apart from the sin of reproducing somebody else's work, this is a suppression of one's own mental development. You have put yourself in a situation where you do not think for yourself, you want to use someone's ideas. It is very good to read other people's work but why' What is the aim' i) You get to know various styles of writing. ii) You get to know how people handle various topics. iii) You enrich yourself in the use of various writing methods and grammatical styles. To be unique therefore borrow only what is good from various people, add to yours and come up with something that is yours when an examiner marks a composition that he or she had read somewhere, he or she automatically develops a low opinion on the writer. i) Do not be obvious

There are stories that are obvious from the word go. An experienced reader can see the conclusion before he reads halfway. This makes the story boring. Surprise the reader with events. When armed gangsters walk into a bank to rob, many writers will say that they shot people, there was bloodshed before they sped away in a get-away vehicle. A good writer will not think along these obvious lines. The writer can just say they walked in, scared people, robbed and went away without firing a single shot. Definitely the examiner/reader hadn't expected this. The art of surprise makes even a movie more thrilling and captivating, if it is obvious one can as well switch off and go to sleep. Take the reader up the hill and down the valley at will, do not put him on a straight, flat, smooth road, he will be bored. j) Strike the iron while it is still red hot

Many writers do not go straight to answer what they have been asked. An examiner gave , candidates the following instructions: k) Handwriting

Can you imae two scenes: i) a highly educated person with a good degree in medicine goes to look for a job as a doctor in a big hospital. On the day of the interview, he appears dressed in a buttonless coat, tom shoes, unkempt hair and bloodshot eyes. ii) Another person who wants the same job but got a degree of far less quality than the first one. On the day of the interview, he appears with his weak papers but he is dressed in a neatly pressed suit and shirt, well polished shoes and tidy well combed hair, he looks quite cheerful with a bright, warm smile. Who of the two is likely to impress the interviewer' By all logic, it is the second person with an inferior degree. First impression gives a permanent opinion to the person who sees you for the first time, it should be the best On that note, markers are also human beings; if one writer presents handwritings that look like the first doctor, however rich and entertaining the story is, the examiner already has a bad impression in his or her mind and this translates into bad marks. The second writer, like the second doctor can walk away with so many mistakes in his or her story because the reader has already h$/en cheated by impression and is likely to score better marks. Pupils must work very hard to have impressive, tidy work with proportional paragraphs. I) Length

The length of a composition at this level should be at least two pages and quarter. A short story gives a bad impression to the examiner. It reflects inadequacy in language, thought and ideas. The forty minutes given allows a good candidate to write the required length and go over the story once or twice to make corrections. A composition that goes beyond this length i.e. three pages or more cannot be a winner because this time (40 minutes) does not allow this and again a candidate is likely to bore the examiner or repeat himself or herself. m) Correct English

At the end of the day even if a candidate meets all the above, he or she has to avoid grammatical errors. Mistakes in tense, spellings, punctuations and other aspects of grammar are a big hindrance to all the above. Good writers must be extremely careful. n) Language

The language used in ' story should not be vulgar or obscene. Polite language that does not put across a reader as gentle in manners is necessary for a good writer. Dirty language gives a negative impression of a writer. SAMPLE TOP RATED COMPOSITIONS

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