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Revising with Skeletons

In the session on Monday, I stated you could know what you were going to write for Section B in the exam without even seeing the question.

This was to be done through having practised skeleton paragraphs, which contain 'writing style' rather than content. I put together 10 Skeleton Paragraphs for you to experiment with in class and these are posted below.

The key is practice and powering through the revision pain like our deadlifting friend below.

Great example of powering through the pain, which you should all take as inspiration.

Use these skeletons to practice your own writing. Deliberately experiment with starting your sentences in different ways and arranging your paragraphs differently. Drill these under timed conditions - try to average 4 minutes per paragraph.

Put these paragraph skeletons together to create a persuasive or descriptive essay. 

Make sure if you are using Skeleton 10 you are remembering your five fingers of effective writing:

Variation of:
Sentence Lengths
Paragraph Lengths

Practice, Drill and Develop. Whatever you do with these skeletons, make it visible! Post what you come up with below.

Skeleton 1

Rhetorical Question
1 word sentence.
Extended Descriptive sentence + semi colon.
Hyperbole in short sentence.
Sentence with high level vocab mixed in.
1 exclamation mark, brackets and quotation marks.

Skeleton 2

1 Sentence – Hyperbole with brackets and semi colon.

Skeleton 3

Triadic Structure
Long sentence with juxtaposition of sophisticated language.
Sentence with colon.
Short Sentence

Skeleton 4

One word sentence
Two word sentence
Imagery – Long sentence
Brackets, Question Mark, Ellipsis

Skeleton 5

Semantic Field
6 sentences including a three word sentence.
Dashes and quotation marks.

Skeleton 6
Rhetorical Question
25 word sentence
Compound sentence
Short Sentence.
6 Types of punctuation.

Skeleton 7
1 sophisticated word paragraph.

Skeleton 8
3 Rhetorical Questions.
1 Short sentence
1 Descriptive Sentence with a colon.

Skeleton 9
5 sentence paragraph.
5 types of punctuation.
First and last sentence must be shorter than 7 words.

Skeleton 10
10 Sentences – Freedom of choice.
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Chris Hambling
18 April 2013 at 18:41

Skeleton 1 and 3

What even is a ‘perfect day’?
A perfect day is a perfect space of 24 hours in which all perfect events, opportunities and general happenings occur; a day in which every annoying and tedious thing checks the time on its watch and realises it should take a nap until the sun rises again. A day in which the monstrously irritating and repetitive ITV murder mystery dramas take a step back and rethink their overall plots.
A mere example of said perfect day is where my extravagantly full bag of worries and nuisances can become misplaced elsewhere to be rediscovered again in the near-future.
I won’t blabber on about sitting on the sofa with a cup of tea whilst watching Made in Chelsea, because this is the complete opposite of perfect! It’s not “The life” as most people somehow believe this is. (You’re not allowed opinions).
Conclusively, a perfect day to me could be absolutely anything. It could range from a content day out in town to a ‘mad one’ at a gig in Norwich. You see, these things vary. I couldn’t possibly blind-fold myself and pin a nail on a sequence of events and exclaim to the country that this is the only perfect day I could possibly have. Ever. The certainty of my perfect day - in a way - is going, going, gone.
I could be cruising around in a small car in the rain holding a can of whatever – as long as one is appreciating the above-satisfactory details around them at the current time – as long as things are going swimmingly – what is there to worry about? Is this perfect? My conclusion: yeah, sure.
Describing a perfect day is a difficult simplicity.
I think I need to experience more perfect days.
Bare with.

18 April 2013 at 21:58

How do you feel about this piece of writing? Satisfied?

There are some really great subtle touches in this. I like the extended descriptive sentence with semi-colon and the sentence which follows that. I think it works really well.

Are there any sentences you look at and think 'I could do more here'? Paste them below and I'll have a look. Am not sure your 'I could be cruising...' sentence works well possibly because of the over use of dashes. I might be inclined to put some of this in brackets to remove it from the overall flow of the main clause and maybe try nominalisation.

As I said, a lot of great bits but I'm sure we can work this into something brilliant.

21 April 2013 at 11:04

What's my grandest adventure? I'll tell you.
Ever dreamt a dream that semed so real it scared you? No! You should be glad.
I had been limping the indean desert of Mah'zarg for ... three days to my recalection. My eyes dry from the constant heat; if I wanted to cry I couldn't. My skin blistered, crackled. My neck soar by thirst, so so thirsty. Although I pictured death a short coming my exsistance still seemed valid ... almost zoetic.

As I patted myself down of the dust and sand I fell to my knees. I cried in pain as does an enceinte woman (a pain filled enceinte woman; nothing but pain, so much pain). "Goddamn!"

Fury, rage, madness. Insanity. All seem likely suspects for my inevitable death. I peer at my revolver. The wooden grip splintered, bone dry. Metal rusted and the shells tarnished. The weapon was not suitable for my self execution: weak, petty and good for nothing.

It was the worst of opportunities yet the best of any.

I squeeze the trigger. 'Click'.

21 April 2013 at 13:42

How do you feel about the writing Sawyer? Is it one of your better pieces? Which sentences / paragraphs do you like the best?

Be careful with your spelling / typos. Look at recalection, indean, zoetic, enceinte. These are basic errors you should check for before submitting a piece (finishing an exam).

The writing works well but just remember that a key error in the exam was students telling a story rather than matching an inform, explain, describe purpose or argue and persuade.

21 April 2013 at 18:27


Perfect. Absolutely perfect. The glistening sun shone on to the crystal blue ocean while the cliffs looked over it like a teacher peering over your shoulder; they were almost intimidating. Plantation was running right the way down the cliff side and the waves were the perfect condition for a good day of surfing (massive with a giant fetch). Would you miss out on a free £50 note? No. This was even better than that. I wouldn't miss this for the world! It's time to surf...

22 April 2013 at 20:14

Why I despise adventures…
I have often wondered what it would feel like to find that perfect place. Sometimes I would close my eyes and imagine a soundless forest, unaffected by the modern world, a place far from hate, a utopia for the outsiders but I have never been brave enough to leave the comfort of my home to attempt to find such a place. Why? Well, because I enjoy lounging around with a mobile glued to my hand along with a T.V remote…After all I am a typical 16 year old what can you expect?. However somehow or another I found myself wandering the woods at 7 O'clock in the afternoon. Lost.

I was lost. On my own, whilst surrounded by hundreds of cackling leaves which where continuously falling around me, and with the darkness gradually smothering me I began to panic. My feet picked up a quicker pace (for about 10 seconds). How could I be so unfit? I know I eat …A lot. If there is a crime for eating too much well then lock me up and throw away the key! In fact at this point in time a rusty old jail cell sounded a hell of a lot more comforting than the termite infested floor I was standing on.

After what seemed like hours abandoned by the sun in the wilderness… I found an escape. One lamp post. How I longed to see a lamp post. It was simply liberating that light flickering uncontrollably as I lumbered slowly down the path like the walking dead. I missed the T.V, the sofa, the warmth but most importantly the food!

Never again will I ever venture into the woodland of witches…Alone. For I now formed a pure and utter hatred towards any type of adventures involving trees...

22 April 2013 at 20:47

How do you think the paragraph sounds Jack? You've got the variety in there and I like the opening.

I would also look at the openings of your sentences for improvements. They consistently start with the subject. Try playing around with the word order maybe starting with verbs.


Running right down the cliff side was plantation (think you mean vegetation here).

22 April 2013 at 20:52

Which Skeleton do you think is the most effective?

You've got some excellent use of vocabulary in here I particularly like your 2nd sentence though it needs semi colons to join the sentences not commas and the comma before unaffected is superfluous.

Remember: subordinate and mark it out, if it's not in a list then whack it out.

If this was an exam piece - you'd have to make sure the sole purpose was description. This has the potential to lapse into a narrative which you are not assessed on.

Highlight your favourite paragraph and tell me why. Pick out a few sentences you are not sure about and I'll make some suggestions.

22 April 2013 at 21:35

Skeleton 5 Lucy Edwards
As I was climbing up the mountain, I realised something. You know what? I give up. Two miles before I can even dream of reaching the top and all I get is a heart-wrenching feeling running through my bones.
"Don't give up" he says. Well too bad-a hot fudge sundae isn't worth the monumental treck up the longest road known to man.

23 April 2013 at 21:08

Well done Lucy. This has a lot of variety and structure to it. Which sentence is your favourite?

Personally, I like the two miles sentence.

You've got a varied structure now you need to apply your higher level vocabulary to this.

Olivia Riser
1 May 2013 at 21:19

Hi sir this is my question 4 quotation homework. I wasn't really sure where to put it.

In Tyler Perry’s play ‘Madea’s Big Happy Family’ the characters explore and develop various themes, one of which being loneliness, and is apparent in the line ‘she sound so lonely; its all in her throat’.

This suggests that the character is struggling with being isolated and that it is taking a physical toll on her. However the use of colloquial dialect creates a light-hearted tone which detracts from the importance of the theme.

It also implies, due to the connotations surrounding the word throat that the character feels choked up by her solitary existence and consequently is withdrawn and unable to speak about it. This idea is again presented in the line ‘Shy is gone keep her lonely’ but it’s true meaning is concealed by the stereotypical colloquial dialect.

Perry could be using this situation to highlight to the audience just how serious not sharing your problems is and how can affect your personality and the way that other people view you.

Olivia Riser
1 May 2013 at 21:42

More question 4 homework.

In Tyler Perry’s film ‘Madea’s Big Happy Family’ the characters tackle diverse and sometimes controversial topics – a common problem within this film is hospitals. Realising that this is a sensitive issue among Perry’s target audience, hyperbolic and humorous language ‘They want to do a bibopsy. That mean I’m dying!’ is frequently used.

The use of the word ‘bibopsy’ instead of biopsy creates a very light-hearted tone, which is emphasised by the colloquial language and makes the audience feel relaxed and comfortable. Perry also uses hyperbolic language to satirically highlight the how the character and possibly some viewers over react to simple medical procedures. By ridiculing this, it makes the viewer understand how trivial their worries are.

Olivia Riser
2 May 2013 at 19:47

Question 4 quote.

In Tyler Perry’s film ‘Madea Goes To Jail’ the theme of responsibility is the main storyline and is portrayed in the line ‘stop being the victim’. This highlights the idea that people have got into the habit of labelling themselves as a victim without due cause. It also suggests that Perry feels that this is an ongoing problem within society and is urging people, through his films, to change this.

The word victim implies suffering and hurt but also brings in the idea of blame.
Another interpretation could be that by calling ourselves victims, it subconsciously inflicts pain and suffering we are so apt on blaming other people for. This links back to the theme of responsibility and the concept of owning the mistakes or events that have caused you to be a ‘victim’.

3 May 2013 at 19:31

These are all perfect for the task Olivia - You just need to keep working on those skills and remember to apply them in Q4 of the exam.

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