Category Archives: Paper 2 Question 2. Writer’s Effect.

The Man Who Got Swallowed By A Hippo.


Read this feature article ‘I was swallowed by a hippo’

For paper 2 practice try to:

Summarise what happened to Paul after Evan was flung out of the boat.

For paper 3 practice:

Choose words and phrases and explain how the writer creates effects through these descriptions.

I reached over to grab his outstretched hand but as our fingers were about to touch, I was engulfed in darkness. There was no transition at all, no sense of approaching danger. It was as if I had suddenly gone blind and deaf.

I was aware that my legs were surrounded by water, but my top half was almost dry. I seemed to be trapped in something slimy. There was a terrible, sulphurous smell, like rotten eggs, and a tremendous pressure against my chest. My arms were trapped but I managed to free one hand and felt around – my palm passed through the wiry bristles of the hippo’s snout. It was only then that I realised I was underwater, trapped up to my waist in his mouth.

I wriggled as hard as I could, and in the few seconds for which he opened his jaws, I managed to escape. I swam towards Evans, but the hippo struck again, dragging me back under the surface. I’d never heard of a hippo attacking repeatedly like this, but he clearly wanted me dead.

Writer’s Technique Checklist


Identify how and why these techniques have been used in the Writer’s Effect question and use these techniques in your own narrative writing.

These are words that describe nouns e.g. ‘harsh’, ‘excruciating, ‘noble’. Writers use them to create a specific picture in the readers mind.
Why has the writer used these adjectives? What picture does it create?

These are words that describe verbs. e.g. ‘carefully’, ‘quietly’, ‘quickly’. These can be used to add more detail to an action so that the reader can picture what is going on and how.
Why has the writer added detail to this action? What picture does it create?

Repetition of a sound at the beginning of words, e.g. ‘Cruel Catherine…’ It is used to stress certain words or phrases or to make a point to the reader.
Why has the writer stressed these words? What point are they trying to make?

Using colour words like ‘red’ , ‘blue’ or ‘yellow’. Colour creates images in the readers mind and can affect atmosphere through connections the reader makes with that colour e.g. red associates with ‘danger’ ‘anger’ or ‘love.’
What image has been created with the use of colour? How has it affected the atmosphere?

Strong differences between two things. A writer might write a paragraph about a beautiful place and follow it with a paragraph describing a run-down place to show the differences between the ways in which two groups of people live.
Why has the writer chosen to show these two things? What difference is being highlighted and why?

Show anger, shock, horror, surprise and joy, e.g. ‘I won!’. They are used to portray emotion and show how a character reacts or is feeling.
Why has the writer chosen to put the exclamation there? What emotion or reaction are they portraying? Why?

Making a character or situation appear in a funny way can be used to mock the character or the place, or it could show that a character is humorous.
Why has the writer made this situation or character humorous? How does it affect the mood?

(including similes, metaphors, colour and use of the 5 senses- sight, sound, touch, taste and smell)
The words allow the reader to create an image in their and involve the reader in the moment being described.
What image has been created? What is the effect of involving the reader in the moment?

The positioning of two words, phrases or ideas next to, or near, each other. This highlights a contrast between two words, phrases or ideas, e.g. ‘The two friends were known as clever Carole and stupid Steven.’
Why has the writer chosen to position these two things together? What contrast is being highlighted and why?

A image created by referring to something as something else, e.g. ‘storm of controversy.’ This shows meaning by directly comparing something to something else.
Why is the word being compared to something else? What element of the thing that it is being compared to is being highlighted in the word.

Negative diction
Words that are negative, e.g. ‘cruel’, ‘evil’, ‘dark’. This gives a negative tone and can portray negative feelings towards a character or situation.
Why has the writer created negative tone? What effect do these negative feelings have on the representation of the character or the atmosphere?

Words that sound like what the describe, e.g. ‘The clash of the symbols startled John.’ The reader can almost hear the sound for themselves.
Why does the writer want the reader to hear the sound? What is the effect on the atmosphere?

Making an object/ animal sound like a person, giving it human characteristics, e.g. ‘the fingers of the tree grabbed at my hair as I passed.’
Why has the object/ animal been given human characteristics? How does it affect the mood?

Positive diction
Words that are positive, e.g. ‘happy’, ‘joyous’ They give a positive tone or portray positive feelings towards a character or situation.
Why has the writer created a positive tone? What effect do these positive feelings have on the representation of the character or the atmosphere?

Sentence Length.
Short sentences are just a few words long, without detail. ‘I wondered if he knew what he was doing to me. It hurt. A lot.’ Short sentences affect the speed the piece is read and grabs attention.
Why has the writer used a short sentence? How does it affect the speed and tension?

A comparison between two things that includes the words ‘as’ or ‘like’, e.g. ‘Her voice cut through him like a knife.’ This shows meaning by comparing something to something else
Why has the word been compared to something else? What element of the thing that it is being compared to has been highlighted in the word.

Action words such as ‘scrambled’, ‘sprinted’, ‘leaped’. The writer uses these to add action to the writing.
Why has the writer used these verbs? What mood has been created?

Setting. (Paper 3 Question 2- links to Paper 2 Question 2)


Setting is the time and place of the action of a story. The setting may be
specific and detailed and introduced at the very beginning of the story,
or it may be merely suggested through the use of details scattered
throughout the story. Customs, manners, clothing, scenery, weather,
geography, buildings, and methods of transportation are all part of

The Purpose of Setting

  • To get a band 1 or 2 in your composition narratives you must include, ‘detail and attention to characters and setting.’ You may also be asked to analyse a paragraph describing setting in the writer’s effect question on paper 2. But why is setting so important?
  • Good writers choose particular settings, not because it is realistic or accurate, but because of what it accomplishes in the story.
  • Setting is used for a number of reasons:
  • The setting can provide important information about the main character, whether he or she is connected to the setting, at home in it, an outsider, or a guest.
  •  A setting that is vivid increases the credibility of the character and the action. If the reader accepts the setting as real, then the reader is more likely to accept the characters who live there, and their behaviour as real. On the other hand, “mistakes” in setting may cause the reader to give up on the story as “fake”. This applies to fantasy settings as well as realistic settings.
  • The setting of a story often has a direct connection to the story’s meaning. For example, a description of a house can help illustrate an overall feeling of loneliness and isolation. Or the intense activity of a city setting might be linked to excitement. These feelings can be connected to a character or to the theme.
  • Sometimes the setting will hold keys to understanding one of the characters. Where a person lives is often very much a part of who that person is.
  • The setting can be used to create increase tention or to se the mood and atmosphere, if these are important to the story


Read the following description of setting from Lord of the Flies. Select words and phrases and explain how the writer created effects by using this language.

The shore was fledged with palm trees. These stood or leaned or reclined against the light and their green feathers were a hundred feet up in the air. The ground beneath them was a bank covered with coarse grass, torn everywhere by the upheavals of fallen trees, scattered with decaying coconuts and palm saplings. Behind this was the darkness of the forest proper and the open space of the scar. Ralph stood, one hand against a grey trunk, and screwed up his eyes against the shimmering water. Out there, perhaps a mile away, the white surf flinked on a coral reef, and beyond that the open sea was dark blue. Within the irregular arc of coral the lagoon was still as a mountain lake—blue of all shades and shadowy green and purple. The beach between the palm terrace and the water was a thin stick, endless apparently, for to Ralph’s left the perspectives of palm and beach and water drew to a point at infinity; and always, almost visible, was the heat.

He jumped down from the terrace. The sand was thick over his black shoes and the heat hit him. He became conscious of the weight of clothes, kicked his shoes off fiercely and ripped off each stocking with its elastic garter in a single movement. Then he leapt back on the terrace, pulled off his shirt, and stood there among the skull-like coconuts with green shadows from the palms and the forest sliding over his skin

Writer’s Effects Process (Paper 2 Question 2)


1. Skim reading 

(Read passage to get a sense of time, place, topic, genre, tone and atmosphere.)

2. Scanning and Selecting

  • After reading the question on writer’s effects (paper 2 question 2), and underlining the key word in each part of the question, return to passage and highlight (possibly in two colours for the two different aspects) the relevant material.
  • Identify and highlight only the key word or phrase which is particularly effective, not a large ‘chunk’ of text. Aim to find approximately three to five choices for each part of the question

3. Transferring to a plan

  • Transfer the chosen quotations to table dividing them into the three sections: Evidence, Explanation, Effect.
  •  Explain the effect it is conveying and the reason for the word or short phrase being effective.
  • Pay particular attention to figurative language i.e. similes and metaphors. You may use literary terms if they are relevant and accurate, but you still need to explain the precise effect of the particular example you have chosen.

4. Developing the response

  • Look again at the passage, this time at the use of such devices as repetition, contrast, question marks or exclamation marks, sentence lengths, sound effects.
  • Add to the beginning or end of each section of your plan a brief overview comment which draws an overall conclusion about the aim and combined effect of the language of the passage e.g. ‘An atmosphere of fear is created through the use of short questions and repetition of references to darkness.’

5. Writing the response

  • Start your response with a thesis statement, commenting on the overall effect.
  • Use topic sentences to introduce your points.
  • The response should be written carefully, putting the quotations from the passage in inverted commas within each sentence explaining its meaning and its effect, and not repeating unnecessarily the words ‘The effect is …’.
  • For full marks there should be a range of choices with their effects, and a sense of overview.

The whole response is expected to be a side to a side and a half of writing.

Paper 2. Question 2. Examiner Tips.

  • The second half of this question will be more demanding than the first. You need to give equal attention to each part and provide at least half a page for each.
  • You should aim for 5 relevant quotations in each part of the question. Give the quotation, in quotation marks, explain its meaning, and then explain its effect on the passage. You cannot get higher than 3 marks if you only identify quotations, or higher than 6 marks if you discuss only meanings.
  • For 10 out of 10 you should give a full range of explained effects and link them into an overview which shows understanding of what the writer was trying to achieve in the passage as a whole.
  • Do not select a quotation which you do not understand as you will not be able to explain either its meaning or its effect.
  • When explaining a quotation do not repeat the words used in it. Do not repeat quotations; you cannot get credit more than once.
  • Generalised and ‘gushing’ comments such as ‘The writer makes me feel as though I am there’ and ‘The passage is cleverly written’ gain no marks and give the impression that you are failing to find things to say.
  • There is no need to use technical terms, and they are no substitute for explaining an effect in your own words; if you do use technical terms, such as onomatopoeia, make sure they are actually correctly used.
  • Select brief quotations only, of between one and four words. Do not lift whole chunks of text, or clump quotations together, or list them. Each one must be focused on specific use of language and explained separately.
  • Introduce your choices of language with phrases such as ‘gives the impression of’, ‘suggests that’, ‘makes me think that.’ Do not say over and over again ‘This has the effect that…’
  • Once you have arrived at an overview, do not contradict yourself, e.g. do not say that one quotation makes a character seem physically old and another one makes her seem physically young. This is not likely therefore you need to look at the passage again. However, there are no ‘right answers’ to this (or any other) part of the exam and you can score highly by engaging with the text and thinking about the way language is being used, whether or not your comments are what the examiner is expecting.
  • Things to look for are: use of the five senses; use of contrast; use of colour; use of noise; links between subject and environment; surprising, or unusual words; words which create sound effects; unusual or dramatic punctuation; imagery (similes and metaphors)