The 'explain' element of the ALARM matrix is so simple that many people either ignore it because they overlook its importance, or assume the marker already knows what they are talking about. They don't. At least, not every time. Certainly, when you're using a related text, there's a fair chance the marker has never seen it, or read it, or even heard of it - so be nice to them. Explain it!
What should you ask yourself here?
In the 'explain' section you prove how your example demonstrates the techniques used in the 'describe' section.
1) How does my example demonstrate the technique(s)?
This is where you briefly discuss the what - features and characteristics of your example and the why - function or purpose of your example. In this section it is important to be specific when explaining your example, so use adjectives and adverbs effectively to paint a clear picture of how things work within your text. These adjectives/adverbs could come from your 'evaluate' section.
It is very rare for a technique to simply exist on its own without the help of other elements to intensify the desired effect. Where possible, look for complimentary techniques and explain how they work together; this ensures that you explore the text in a more holistic way and can see the big picture of how things work together to achieve an overall effect. For instance in film, there will be numerous techniques working together to create a particular mood or atmosphere eg. the uplifting instrumental music coupled with the slow motion camera pan.
2) What are some ways that you can better explain what something is and why it works that way?
A strong essay needs to embed evaluative language throughout - that means that you need to judge how effective something is and to what extent the impact reaches the audience and world (but don't get too carried away because you will do that in more detail in the 'analyse', 'conceptualise' and 'appreciate' sections). When proving/explaining your example, look for ways to evaluate what is going on and why. It is important to avoid using the term 'shows.' It is like calling someone nice or smart. It's far too general. Try using some other verbs for 'shows' or 'emphasises' like these:
Words that are better than 'show'
represents, typifies, signifies, encapsulates, conveys, displays, portrays, showcases, highlights, exemplifies, amplifies, illustrates, epitomises, embodies, reveals and so on.
Where does this fit in?
Welcome to the 'explain' component of the ALARM matrix. If you start doing this bit well you'll be moving yourself into the 'C' range of marks. That's somewhere around a 10-12 out of 20. It's a start, but it gives you an idea just how important it is to keep going once you get this fair!
How can you write about it?
Let's say you've gathered the following information (like the poster above):
The example text used here is called 'Master and Commander' The medium is film. The composer is Weir and the techniques are juxtaposition and symbolism.
Your explanation might look like something pictured above:
Weir juxtaposes the symbolism of the gun, representing man's overly aggressive nature, with that of an albatross, typifying our moderate and more tolerant mannerisms.
The example explains how Weir has used juxtaposition and symbolism together to represent two sides of human nature - our aggressive and tolerant sides. Notice that it focuses on the symbolic aspect, not the juxtaposition. That's because the writer has chosen 'symbolism' as the dominant technique while juxtaposition is a complimentary technique.
The explain verbs include representing and typifying
Adjectives like "overly aggressive" and "tolerant" help to explain your example quickly and clearly in a way the marker can visualise.
Now, this bit is important. Explaining how your evidence works isn't always easy. It's why you need to talk to people, ask them their ideas. Listen to teachers (I mean, it's just an idea). Talk to other students (about this, not about that thing that happened and you just can't even!) You don't need great detail here. That's what the next section is for!
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 'explain' component connects to both STEEL and STEAL through the 'example' element.
Using SETAL or PETAL
The 'explain' component connects to both SETAL and PETAL through the 'technique/example' element.