A Statement of Intention (also known as a written statement, written explanation) is a piece that accompanies writing you have created and submitted for assessment. In VCE English subjects, this might be relevant for your creative response and persuasive oral SACs. It most commonly takes form in an essay, generally 300-500 words in length, that can be done in timed or take-home conditions. It can also be delivered orally if your class has fewer students.
The Statement of Intention is a way for you to justify the choices you have made in creating your piece. Your teacher may only have one chance to read over your creative response or hear your speech, so they will inevitably miss things. With this, you are provided with the opportunity to draw attention to and explain your intentions for certain parts of your piece. Of course, the short word count means you will not be able to cover everything: therefore, it is critical to be selective.
There are 2 main types:
- For creative response
- For oral presentation
The type of Statement of Intention dictates your approach to it, as each assessment requires demonstration of particular capabilities. There is no formal structure, however you should maintain some form of introduction/conclusion.
Regarding an original piece you are asked to create in response to a text. VCAA describes it as ‘a written explanation of creative decisions and how these demonstrate understanding of the text.’
You will need to show:
- Analytical interpretation of the ways that vocabulary, text structures and language features can enliven ideas.
- Reflection of this understanding in a creative response
You will need to explain:
- Form: Do you attempt to emulate the form of the original text? How does this relate to the audience and context, does it provide a means to explore a framework of ideas (country, personal journeys, protest, play)?
A letter may provide a platform for an intimate exchange with another character or reveal an inner rumination; a poem may allow for figurative discussion; a short story may provide structural advantage for dialogue and plot involving multiple characters.
- Purpose: What is your message, do you express/explain/reflect/argue this? How does this relate to the topic, as well as views and values of the author? You should ensure you reference contemporary themes.
Eg. My piece responds to the prompt ‘From hardship comes the opportunity for growth’. It is a new chapter that exposes the relationship dynamics of the Westaway family after Connie’s death. My purpose was to allow the readers of Toni Jordan’s Nine Days and people interested in Jean’s character to see the previously static character experience personal growth, particularly regarding her treatment towards her son Kip. This engenders the issues that come with unconventional family structure and generational trauma.
- Language and Convention: How do your word choices and sentence structure relate to the original text? Have you adapted specific techniques from the original text? Perhaps the author has a signature writing style (consider syntax, use of colloquial and idiomatic language, sentence length, punctuation).
Eg. In order to mimic Jean’s voice, I utilised first-person narration with present tense. I chose short and concise language to convey her forthright nature, peppering in her signature declarative sentences. However, to shift to a more pensive and reflective tone, I added in a monologue which would allow for greater understanding of her characterization as regretful and conscious.
I also constructed an atmosphere that would mirror the family dynamics. The kitchen is ‘small and cramped and filled with the remnants of our family’, symbolising the cluttering of piled unresolved issues that would for shadow the resulting explosion of conflict. I also referenced descriptions Jordan used, for example the ‘halo’ the light bulb illuminates and Jean’s ‘dragging ache’. To keep with her religious nature, Jean frequently uses phrases like ‘Lord’; this is discarded towards the end of the story as she begins to recognise the hypocrisy of her religion and rigidity of class constructs.
Regarding your persuasive speech presenting a point of view. VCAA describes it as ‘articulating the intention of decisions made in the planning process, and how these demonstrate understanding of argument and persuasive language’.
It’s basically Analysing Argument for your own piece.
You will need to show:
- Knowledge of methods to position or persuade an audience to share a point of view
- Consideration of the effect of the author’s identity and context on the intended audience
- Understanding of conventions and protocols of discussion and debate
- Grasp of intonation, volume, pace, pausing and stress
You will need to explain:
- Form/Structure: How do your arguments develop? Do you use visuals? Do you reinforce certain techniques throughout?
- Purpose: What is your contention? Your purpose should never be to simply inform, you have an agenda.
- Audience/Context: Who are you and where is this hypothetically taking place? What is the background to this issue? Who is your speech targeted towards and what is their established view?
- Language/Tone: How do you integrate rhetorical devices? How do you leverage tone to address your audience, is there any shift?
Now let’s look at it all put together in an example:
Following the long contentious issue of live animal export, debate resurged last year when the Australian government provided support for live animal export ships and the New Zealand government contrastingly announced a total ban. I adopted a persona, emulating the voice of an opposition party member delivering a speech in front of Parliament to petition for reform in this industry. I aimed to convince the general audience of voters viewing it on TV to criticise the government’s ‘weak’ stance on live animal export and lobby for legislative change.
I commenced the speech by addressing my ‘fellow Australians’, establishing a sense of patriotic unity and belonging. This was supported with a nationalistic approach to the issue by referencing the lyrics of the Australian National Anthem. I intended to position the viewers to unify under a collective identity, galvanising a sense of national duty. Through contrasting these values against the ‘mutilated stain of the live animal expert industry’, I attempted to incite the viewers’ feeling of shame to the ‘proud Australian name’ with the strongly condemnatory tone.
I reinforced my case as logical and objective using expert testimony and statistical evidence from ‘credible’ associations such as the CSIRO. The reference to such evidence ‘ignored’ by the government hence instils a sense of dissatisfaction in the audience, leading them to consider the government’s actions critically. This sense of rationality was underpinned with my rebuttal regarding the economic implications, futhering perception of my character as understanding the issue holistically and considered the ‘livelihoods’ of ‘our hard working Australian farmers and workers’. This would appeal to the main opposition, rural Australian farmers who would rely on the industry as their source of income; I aimed to assuage their worries as well as position myself as a ‘competent’ person.
I bookended my speech using tripartite statements with imperatives that synthesised a call to action. I shift to an inspiringly assertive tone by calling voters to ‘use the power of the democracy’ to ‘give a voice to the voiceless’, ultimately catalysing them to feel an urgent human responsibility to sign the petition and agree to my view.
Tips on how to do well:
- Use metalanguage, try and pick unique things to focus on.
- Read the rubric your teacher provides you with!
- Consider rebuttals or multiple sides of discussion.
Ultimately, even if you’ve created an excellent original story or speech, it is just as important to present a polished Statement of Intention. A well-written one may also boost up your score for your original piece!
This blog was written by our tutor, Catherine. You can find her profile here.