HSC Creative Writing is often a very daunting task. Not only do you have to write a story in 40 minutes and make it good, but it has to say something interesting about Discovery while you’re at it! If you’re not sure how to start, you can consider a few tips from a master of the short story, Kurt Vonnegut, author of such classics as Cat’s Cradle and Slaughterhouse Five.
He says that “every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water”. If your characters are boring to you, they’re boring to the reader. Your characters should be real people, with individual features and wants (more than just ‘discovering’). Give them an interesting habit or physical feature, maybe they have hairy ears or are constantly shifting their weight from side to side.
Vonnegut also says that a good story should “start as close to the end as possible”. When you only have 40 minutes to tell a story, you don’t have the time or space to develop an epic narrative like Lord of the Rings. Start in the middle of the action, don’t waste too much time telling history at the beginning. You need to balance keeping it simple and making sure enough happens so there can be a satisfying conclusion for your reader.
Lastly, Vonnegut says that you should “use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted“. HSC markers will read hundreds of creative writing stories based on the same stimuli presented in your exam. Make sure that yours is interesting enough to hold their attention.
Most importantly, practice. Don’t think you can just wing it on the day, creative writing is as much a learned skill as is essay writing!
By Sophie M.