Creative Writing in the HSC is the skill that is least conducive to pre-planning, and in contrast to a strong essay, eludes precise, mathematical understanding. This is because the success of your creative writing piece will depend heavily on how spontaneous and genuinely expressive it is of your concerns and ultimately your own self. Sadly, for this very reason we have no “Creative Writing Formula” textbook to save your hsc, but all is not lost.
I certainly thought it was however at the beginning of my second term of the HSC. And this was after a summer break of fruitless attempts to gain ground on my Ext 2 short story. My own tutor had ridiculed the verbose dross that I initially came up with for short story ideas. I was floundering for direction, and the stress only compounded my writer’s block.
Look at What the Greats Do
It was at this time that I had my first fortuitous encounter with the writing of Tim Winton. Winton is one of Australia’s greatest ever writers, deserving of taking his place in Australia’s literary pantheon alongside Peter Carey, Patrick White, Christopher Brennan et al. I was deeply moved by how Winton crafted a lucid, undemanding prose that made the everyday struggles of humans something mythic. I understood that our lives, trials and tribulations are the stuff of good story-telling. Everything changed for the better when I realised I could write about my own life!
Write About Your Own Life
That is my major tip. Don’t lose yourself in far-fetched, fanciful plots. Our tutors are great for showing you how to write about what you know. The greatest writing always does that. Don’t be afraid to write about the dynamics with your parents, about friendship, about love and sex, bullying, disappointment and partying, about teachers and the HSC. These are all stories to be written.
Struggle and Conflict are Entertaining
The essence of life, and story-telling, is good characters and conflict or dilemmas. The plot should be a vehicle to explore the qualities of the character, and the themes that are appended to them. Such as: overcoming bullying, learning to cope with loneliness, being on the cusp of adulthood etc.
Don’t Spoil it For Yourself
When writing, you can’t afford to be excessively concerned with how something will turn out – this destroys the creative process. So: Don’t get in your way! Edit and judge after the fact. Enjoy the experience of writing – if you do, this will come through in your piece and you will, at the end of the day, be rewarded with higher marks.
All things considered, Ten’s recent adaptation of Gabrielle Carey’s Puberty Blues could inspire you guys to come up with your own stories. The production value, screenplay and acting (including Claudia Karvan) lend an authenticity to the story that makes it enjoyable and exactly the kind of thing markers will be looking for.
Keep Your Voice Alive
Be real. Be yourself. That’s what self-expression is about. Come up with a handful of stories, characters and plot outlines that explore different themes, and learn to adapt them to whatever question you eventually get asked.
Hope that spurs some writers out there to get typing! And if you find yourself struggling with a creative writing piece, let one of our tutors give you some 1 on 1 feedback on your writing.