In addition to directly quoting your text, it’s important to refer to the techniques, associated with form, used by the composer of that text. Whether you’re analysing a novel, poem or film, take note of whether or not the composer embraces or shirks the conventions of their chosen form, and for what purpose their decision serves. It’s one thing to drop a line of text into your essay, but one of the most significant ways a marker can distinguish a strong response from its lesser counterparts is if it analyses an author’s use of techniques. In the following examples, the Technique-Evidence-Effect sentence structure is applied.

Take the following sentence, based on a Module B study of T.S. Eliot’s Preludes.

Item 6: Using the Technique-Evidence-Effect sentence structure in an essay on Preludes

Eliot’s synecdoche portrays fragmented personalities in a sordid landscape, with the disembodied “muddy feet” trudging to “early coffee-stands” highlighting the conformist monotony of modern existence.

Notice how it doesn’t just quote the text (green) but also refers to the specific technique Eliot employs (blue) in service of his grand purpose (yellow). Words like ‘highlights’, ‘shows’ and ‘reveals’ are useful when explaining the effect of a technique. It’s important to not merely cut and paste a few words as your only evidence. The accompanying technique is very much a part of the evidence too. This sentence wouldn’t work if the crucial technique of synecdoche wasn’t referenced.

Not every text you analyse in English is literary. Increasingly, English students in NSW are being taught to scrutinise visual texts in a fashion similar to that taught in Visual Arts. In fact, as of late the Board of Studies has even counted website screenshots as texts in Section I of the Area of Study paper.

Let’s take a look at an example: Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, from Module A. As both a sci-fi film and a hallmark of German Expressionism, it blurs the distinction between the ‘evidence’ that inhabits your essay’s quotation marks and the aforementioned techniques associated with form.

Below is a sentence from such a Module A essay, which discusses one element of the film’s mise-en-scene.

Item 7: Using the Technique-Evidence-Effect sentence structure in an essay on Metropolis

Lang’s symmetrical compositions, particularly evident in his expository image of shift workers being lowered into their dehumanising labour, highlights the mechanised conformity mandated by overzealous Futurism.

Because the evidence in the text is distinctly visual, you can’t use quotation marks to signify your evidence. Instead, merely refer to what is seen in the film: the fact that the workers move and behave in such a mechanical, inhuman fashion.

The above sentence refers to a technique that calls attention to the fact that Metropolis features a German Expressionist aesthetic. It is always useful to refer to techniques that are characteristic of the film’s form or genre. Techniques like chiaroscuro lighting and artificial set design are also part-and-parcel of German Expressionism.

As you can see, when analysing a film or any other visual text, it’s important to be aware of what’s causing you to feel a certain way or think a particular thought. This will ultimately lead you to the technique being used by the composer. If asking “What am I seeing?” leads you to the evidence, then asking “How is it being shown?” should ultimately lead you to the technique.

We’ve included an appendix where you can find a comprehensive list of the most common literary and visual techniques you ought to know. They should be useful for analysing techniques on the fly in Section I of Discovery, and even for your creative writing in Section II.

It’s generally useful to include at least two references to technique, in particular the techniques that are closely associated with your text’s form or text type, in each of your body paragraphs. Three is the sweet spot. Four is probably the upper-most limit. 

The Module in which such references are most crucial is Module C: Representation and Text. The Module’s entire foundation is about the choices made by a composer so as to communicate their unique vision. Section III of Discovery is probably the essay in which references to technique are the least necessary. But, even then, it’s important to not let the marker think for one moment that you’re ignorant of the decisions a composer made to represent an idea in a specific way. The best way to ensure this is to include at least two references to technique per paragraph, no matter what essay.