PSLE English Paper 1: Using Tension to Better Engage Readers
A key feature of a riveting read is the tension that keeps the reader glued to the edge of the seat. This article will walk you through two tips to better engage your readers and enhance their reading experience.
Tip #1: Avoid Tension 'Relaxants'
- Too much dialogue
This is also known as 'the reporter' style of writing. The student shows the reader every line of dialogue two or more characters speaks.
E.g. "Hey! Let’s go to the playground!" John shouted to his friends, Benny and Charlie. "Ok! I’m so excited!" Benny shouted in reply. "Race you guys there!" Charlie exclaimed in response.
Bursting with excitement, John shouted to his friends, Benny and Charlie, to get them to join him at the playground. Both Benny and Charlie were equally thrilled with John’s idea. Charlie even suggested that they race there to see who would be the first to get to the playground.
The above uses a mixture of complex sentences and figurative expressions "Bursting with excitement..." and expressive reactions "...equally thrilled..." to break the monotony of simply having dialogues between the characters.
Tip #2: Avoid Mundane Details
- Too many details that slow the pace of the narrative unnecessarily
Also commonly known as 'loose writing', the writer adds plenty of details that do not enhance the reading experience. Instead, it momentarily disengages or even leads the reader to question why these details are there in the first place!
E.g. Joe sat up suddenly in bed. He realised he was going to be late for school! He quickly walked to the toilet. He then brushed his teeth and washed his face. He grabbed a sandwich and then he went to get his bag. Next, he left the house and walked quickly to the lift lobby.
Joe sat up suddenly in bed. His tired eyes widened when it struck him that he was going to be late for school! In a flash, he got changed after getting ready before making a beeline for the door with his bag and sandwich in one hand. Heart pounding, he made his way to the lift lobby.
The above eliminates the mundane details and includes figurative expressions such as "…eyes widened…", "in a flash…", "…making a beeline for…" and "heart pounding…" to engage the reader’s senses and more importantly, to maintain the fast pace of the story without the monotony of too many simple sentences used in the previous example.
About the Author
Teacher Chin has more than a decade of experience in teaching English from Primary Two to Primary Six in local primary schools. He is presently, in his free time, having immense enjoyment experimenting with the Nimzo-Indian Defence in chess and trying out the Apacs Lethal 9 in badminton doubles.