GCSE English language: 7 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 a narrative story but you could be asked to come up with a script or speech. Other types of creative writing include opinion piece articles, reviews, website and even voice overs.

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), as well as the word count - you don't want to write pages and pages for a 300 word book review.

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 - an introduction, body and end - before you even write your first word. You should also consider the structure of the piece, a diary entry will be written very differently to a news article, but remember there aren't any marks for layout, so don't spend time making your piece actually look like the real thing.

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

Some pieces will lend themselves to a nice, easy ending - a movie review will almost always conclude with an overall opinion on the film - but other types of writing aren't so easy. When it comes to fictional stories, it may be easier 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.

Adapt your writing style for your audience

Think about who the audience for your piece of writing will be. A newspaper report about a murder will have a very different audience to a concert review for a teenage magazine. You should make sure that you adapt your writing style with your audience in mind. If in doubt, play it safe and keep it formal as after all it will only be the examiner who reads it!

Remember your purpose

If you're writing a non-fiction piece then make sure your piece has purpose. For example, if you're writing a movie review, it shouldn't just be a synopsis of the film, it should include opinion. Ask yourself whether what it is you're trying to do with the writing - is it to argue or to persuade? Write with your purpose in mind.

Fiction texts should also have a purpose, but that will be up to you: Do you want your story to be funny or sad, will it have a moral message?

Be descriptive

While this applies to narrative (story) writing in particular it also is a tip you could follow whether you're writing a review, script, speech or news article too. Use plenty of adjectives to help the reader build a picture in his or her mind. Be inventive and imaginative with your vocabulary - don't just say that a certain movie scene was "good".

Don't limit your descriptions to the obvious such as places or objects but also to the speech and feelings of characters or people involved.

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!