GCSE English language: 9 tips for creative writing

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On paper creative writing should be one of the easiest parts of the English language GCSE but you're not alone if you're finding it tricky.

Creative Writing in GCSE exams can take various forms: You may just have to tell an entire short story or you could be asked to write a description of a picture.

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Here's some top tips when it comes to dealing with your creative writing headaches...

Actually read the question

Let's start at the very beginning: The question. Read it VERY carefully because your answer will only be marked in the context of what was actually asked in the first place, regardless of how well written your piece may have been. Pay special attention to the type of creative writing you're asked to come up with and it's audience (see more below).

Make a plan

This goes for any bit of writing but when it's something you're creating yourself from scratch it's even more important to think before you put pen to paper. Make sure you have a rough outline of your work before you even write your first word.

Don't leave the ending to the, well, end

Some pieces will lend themselves to a nice, easy ending - and in some questions, the ending may even be provided for you - but other times it's not so simple to stop. When it comes to fictional stories, it may well be easier to plan your ending first and work backwards, you don't want to end on a whimper, in a rush or with leftover loose ends from the plot.

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Keep it relatively simple

You should spend about 40 minutes writing and that's not enough time to create a complex plot with lots of characters and pull it off. Keep things manageable with a focused narrative.

Write from real life

Write more convincingly by taking inspiration from your real life experiences and feelings, embellishing where necessary.

Take things out of this world

If you're given a prompt to write the opening story involving a storm, it doesn't need to be a storm on earth. Going out of this world allows you to be really descriptive (see below) in your language and paint a picture of a completely unique world or species.

Be descriptive

Use plenty of adjectives to help the reader build a picture in their mind. Consider the senses such as what you might hear, smell, feel or taste.

Be inventive and imaginative with your vocabulary and use a range of techniques to bring your writing to life, such as metaphors, alliteration and personification.

Show, don't tell

For example, rather than simply telling the reader a character is tall, show them that in your writing: "He towered above me like a skyscraper."

Proofread

It should really go without saying but check your work throughout. There's the obvious: That's your spelling, grammar, and punctuation, but also make sure that your piece actually makes sense, flows properly and has plenty of relevant content - refer back to the question if in doubt!