The 'define' element of ALARM is made up of the easy stuff - that's probably why it's the first piece of the puzzle too. It's still important but don't think you're pulling in the big marks if you're just doing this bit. Put simply, here's where you gather all of your key terms...
What should you ask yourself here?
It's nearly too easy to figure this out but here we go anyway...
1) What are the official names of the texts you are studying?
Don't fall into the trap of using nicknames in your formal reply. It's not a problem to call William Shakespeare 'Billy or 'Shakey' when you're gathering research but you do look less professional calling him that in your formal essay response.
2) What is the specific type of the text?
You shouldn't say, 'It's a book' when the text you were studying was a biography, or an autobiography. Be detailed. It's not just a film - it's a documentary. It's not just a song - it's 1980's rock.
3) What are the dominant techniques being used?
Notice the word 'dominant'? We're not looking for a list of every technique in the text - just the ones that are 'being used' to create key components of the text's purpose and meaning. Oh, you found a simile? Good for you... now, can you prove it means something that connects to the concept because you'll need to do that in the next few sections!
4) How I donate money to the people who made this site?
Oh, stop it! You're too kind. You're making us blush!
5) Does anyone know where my other sock is?
Where does this fit in?
The 'define' component of the ALARM matrix forms the first part of the ALARM response wheel. The information you collect here will most likely be used in your introduction and early in your paragraphs to introduce evidence. In paragraphs, it should come AFTER you've introduced your statement. This is because your statement should make it clear what piece of your thesis this paragraph is designed to prove.
Note: The above graphic demonstrates how this aspect of ALARM connects with the STEICL paragraph builder but there are quite a few ways to build your paragraph. If you're using one of the others, check below for more info:
How can you write about it?
Let's say you've gathered the following information (like the poster above):
The text is called 'Insensibility'. The medium is poetry (but war poetry is a little more accurate, so I'll use that this time). The composer is Wilfred Owen and the dominant technique is juxtaposition.
The boring way to write this out is pretty much exactly what you see above. Not much of a way to pull in the reader - and it has nothing to do with a thesis. Owen's poetry often dealt with how war changes people and society, so let's use that to create a quick thesis to help expand this example. Our thesis is that the damage war creates extends far beyond the battles themselves. Now, here's what our new sentence could like.
Owen explores this concept through his use of juxtaposition in 'Insensibility'.
This example is brief but covers three of our key pieces of evidence. As long as we made it clear somewhere else in our essay (perhaps the introduction) that Owen used poetry to deliver his messages, we've covered all bases. It's a simple method; let's ramp it up a bit:
Owen's analysis of the collateral damage resulting from war is clearly identifiable through his use of juxtaposition within 'Insensibility'.
Why is this better? It's allowing you to demonstrate your vocabulary and depth of knowledge - markers love that stuff!
Through 'Insensibility', Owen questions the importance of war through his juxtaposition of individuals facing its effects.
Other paragraph builders...
Why so many choices?
Well, for starters, they're not that much different. Some of you may have been taught different versions, and some of you may feel comfortable with continuing to use those versions.
Most of these 'paragraph builders' start in similar ways but branch off slightly here and there. Whichever one helps you get the best results you can get, that's the best one. If you're stuck writing similar response, getting similar feedback, perhaps selecting a more detailed paragraph builder will benefit you.
Using STEEL or STEAL
The 'define' component connects to both STEEL and STEAL through the 'technique' element.
Using SETAL or PETAL
The 'define' component connects to both SETAL and PETAL through the 'technique' element.