Extended Writing

Extended Writing
By Simon Haw 

What is meant by extended writing? 

Anything from a paragraph to a book. Some different forms of extended writing:

  • paragraph
  • essay (expository and narrative
  • articles (specialist journals / newspapers / magazines )
  • editorial / opinion piece
  • memos / reports
  • formal letters (business / letters to the editor)
  • speeches
  • diaries / personal letters

Some basic principles of good writing.

All good writing should have the following characteristics:

  • Purpose
  • Form
  • Appropriateness


The Essay

  • The Beginning: The thesis "[A common] way to open an essay is by forcefully saying exactly what's on your mind..." Random House Guide to Good Writing
  • The Middle: Details and Transitions
    - Cons: Refute the counter-arguments (optional)
    - Pros: Present the evidence for your thesis (argument)
    "Each paragraph should begin with an assertion, proceed to demonstrate it, and end with its logical conclusion: the same three-part structure ... as the essay as a whole" ibid.
  • "In the conclusion, the thesis is restated and expanded into a broader statement, in order to summarise the insights developed in the body of the essay." ibid.



  • A journal article is essentially the same as an essay as it is written for a specialist reader.
  • Newspaper and magazine articles are written for the general non-specialist reader. One therefore cannot assume any prior knowledge. The opening paragraph is very important as the reader needs to be hooked into the article. A good way is to find an angle which relates in some way to the reader's own experiences or sets the scene in some way.


    The SUV rises effortlessly out of the shallow watercourse of the Oorlogspoortspruit, opening up a wide vista across a huge plain, covered as far as the eye can see with the sombre, military colours of a Karoo winter. The plain is fringed with a jumble of gnarled ridges and koppies, the stony skeleton of an ancient landscape dotted with the dusty green of the ubiquitous besembos.

It is nine o' clock on a cloudless morning in late May. My host, Lesley Osler, is driving me to visit one of the most exciting, and in a sense unexpected, community development projects to be found in South Africa. The Hantam Community Education Trust is situated on the farm Grootfontein, about forty kilometres south east of Colesberg in the Northern Cape. I have wanted to see this place for myself for some time. Now at last, a mere six kilometres ahead of us, down a ruler-straight gravel road, the farm and school can be faintly discerned as a distant scribble of gumtrees and faint rectangular blotches of buildings on the otherwise featureless plain.

From a feature article published in The Witness in September 2007




Editorial / Opinion Piece

  • Although these are written for the general reader, they are usually based on some highly topical issue. The readers are therefore likely to be fairly well-informed on the topic, making it unnecessary to give basic factual information.
  • To a large extent they resemble an essay in both form and function. However, they do provide the opportunity for learners to explore historical events from different perspectives. e.g. The Defiance Campaign as viewed by Die Transvaler or the Rand Daily Mail.




This editorial and cartoon appeared in The Witness on Wednesday 15 May 2008. They refer to a truck accident which had occurred on Monday which had blocked a section of the N3 to Durban for six hours.




Memos and Reports

While memos are invariably very short, they serve the same purpose as reports in that they inform decision makers about a particular matter and usually (in the case of memos always) call for action based on the recommendations of the writer/s. Reports usually have a much wider audience, which might include the public in general.


The key features of a memo:

  • Use a clear subject line.
  • State your purpose in the first paragraph.
  • Summarise any potential objections.
  • Keep the paragraphs short.
  • Use subheads between paragraph groups.
  • Use bulleted and numbered lists.
  • Request action.




To:       Fuhrer Adolf Hitler

From:   Heinrich Himniler

Date:    29 December 1941

Re:       The Jewish Problem

The present method of eliminating the Jewish menace from the area of the General Government by shooting is inefficient an having a detrimental effect on the members of the Einsatzgrappen who have to carry out the programme. It is therefore proposed that alternative methods should be found.

Cost Objections:


[Concluding paragraph] In view of the importance of carrying out the great work of racial cleansing in the most efficient manner possible, I request that the Fuhrer should give priority attention to the recommendations contained in this Memorandum.




Political Oratory — Speeches

  • Another opportunity for learners to write from a particular perspective.
  • Great speeches have a sense of occasion.
  • The language and images must be powerful and accessible to a mass audience.
  • Speeches often use repetition as an important way of hammering home an idea.


 Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech – March 1963 – Washington USA


I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evic that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave-owners will be able down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will c transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour off their skin but content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that the state of Alabama, whose governor's lips are presently dripping with the words of interposition and nullified will be transformed into a situation where little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white and walk together as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill shall be made low, the rough place will be made plain, and crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all the flesh shall see it together.




Diaries and Personal Letters

  • The tone is highly personal
  • The language is almost always informal
  • Diaries in particular may well be written in a telegraph form — in other words full sentences are seldom used.
  • Opinions are likely to be expressed very openly and honestly as these documents are not intended for public scrutiny. In this way they can be very valuable to a historian.
  • From the learners' point of view, important skills they can demonstrate are empathy and a sense of period (historical imagination)


As an example let us examine the diary entries of a farmer who lived just south of the battlefields around Ladysmith.




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