Students often leave HSC creative writing until closer to the exams, because improvisation is an easy option. Whilst sometimes this works, it’s better to work on your creative piece throughout the year, and shape it so that you’re more familiar and make it a little easier on yourself in the exam. Here are some steps for preparing for creative writing in Paper One, Discovery.
- Decide your base idea
It’s good to have a general idea of what your story is going to be about; including the functional aspects of a narrative along with some inspiration to help with the more creative aspects too. This can be in the way of a base plot, for example, or through having a good idea of a main character. Remember to keep events and characters to a minimum, so as to not try and jam so much into your story that the message is lost. This can also be built upon, too; start off small. It could be as simple as someone walking through a graveyard, or someone getting lost in a building; these base images can spark some inspiration to build a story from.
- Pull apart the syllabus
The only place the markers can draw questions from is the syllabus, so pull apart the main ideas and think about potential questions they could ask. That is, have a look at what aspects of discovery the markers could ask you for. Maybe a piece of writing on the unexpected nature of discovery? How discoveries can transform individuals emotionally? These can also help give your story direction.
- Make slight modifications
With these syllabus points, you can make different ‘versions’ of your story to be prepared to suit the question. This doesn’t have to mean writing different stories altogether, but just altering your base idea to place an emphasis on certain aspects of discovery. This constant shaping and remolding of your story makes you more familiar with it, making you more flexible to handle a potential curveball. This also helps in practicing adapting to stimuli, because you adapt your story to suit different ideas.
- Decide how to remember
Once you’ve had some practice in shaping your ideas to different aspects of discovery, you can decide if you’re going to memorize these stories. This depends on the person; you can memorize an entire story (but be willing to shape it to the stimulus on the day) or memorize some base points, sentences or ideas to help you write your story in the exam. I recommend the latter, just to allow for more flexibility.
Practicing is essential in creative writing. Once you have got a base story, you can shape it to not only specific aspects of discovery but also specific images, quotes or settings. This is crucial in ensuring you are familiar with your creative writing and have developed your skills to the extent where you can confidently sit the exam.