Organising Principles


The first step when writing about a text is to figure out what the Organising Principle of that text is. What is the main mood, message, idea or theme that the poet is trying to get across to us? An Organising Principle can be anything, for example a writer might try to:



All of these and many more could be Organising Principles but you have to be careful because many texts have more than one. If you think that you have identified more than one Organising Principle in a text then try and write about all of them. The best candidates will be those who realise that a text says more than one thing at a time.


When trying to work out the Organising Principle of a text, here are some useful questions you might ask yourself:


  1. What is going on in the text?
  2. Who is involved? Who is speaking?
  3. To whom is the text addressed? Who is the audience?
  4. When is the text set –in the past , present, future or at a specific event?
  5. Where is the text set – how does setting reflect content, character(s) or ideas?
  6. Mood  - what is the general mood of the speaker(s)/character(s) / atmosphere?
  7. Motive - what prompted the writer to put pen to paper?


Once you have answered those questions you should be able to begin working out what the writer’s purpose was. Why did they write this text? What were they trying to say / do / achieve? This will end up being your Organising Principle.


This is the first step in the process, however, and after that you must start to think about how the writer has tried to achieve their purpose, how they have tried to affect the reader and how they have affected you. This is when the real work of analysis begins.