Composing

So, you’re planning on writing a NARRATIVE in the Composing Section?

Here’s what you need to cover to get the best mark possible 😊

🍄 Focus on QUALITY not quantity – think twice about covering too much time. Some of the best short stories only cover an hour or two.

🍄 Focus on the DETAILS.

🍄 Choose a GENRE if you like – science fiction, thriller, fantasy etc – and weave in its conventions.

🍄 STRUCTURE is important:

  1. Exposition
    • Describe the setting (year, time of day, country, urban / rural, location, weather)
    • Introduce your main character(s)
  2. Introduce a conflict or problem:
    • character vs person
    • character vs self
    • character vs environment
    • character vs society
  3. Create rising tension – short sentences are great for this.
  4. Climax
  5. Resolution

Your narrative structure can be chronological, use flashbacks, have a circular structure.

🍄 CHARACTERISATION – details will bring them to life!

  • speech
  • actions
  • thoughts – via first person or third person pov
  • appearance
  • interaction with other characters
  • values
  • attitudes

🍄 Depending on the question, you may be required to show an underlying THEME, ISSUE, SOCIAL VALUES, ATTITUDES etc.

🍄 Show off your LANGUAGE ABILITY

  • descriptive language - verbs, adjectives, and verbs
  • figurative language – simile, metaphor, personification, onomatopoeia, hyperbole, alliteration, allusion, symbolism

🍄 Vary your sentence lengths and types – short, compound and complex. Don’t start them the same way all the time.  Mix it up.  Keep it fresh!  It makes it interesting.

🍄 Proofread to within an inch of your life! Capitals, apostrophes, speech marks, spelling, paragraphs, full stops, commas.  A common punctuation error is the comma splice – students use a comma to punctuate the end of a sentence when it should be a full stop.

🍄 CHEAT’S TIP:  If you’ve reached Yr12 and still don’t know how to use a comma, well, at least you're honest!  Don't sweat it at this late stage.  But STAY SAFE and perhaps only use full stops.  Except in lists – surely you know how to use a comma in a list 😊   By NOT putting them in the wrong places, you prevent your work from being penalised so heavy when it comes to sentence structure and punctuation.

🍄 Sometimes the question may ask you to only write the OPENING OF A NARRATIVE.  In this case, the focus must definitely be on the detail (setting and character).  Bringing your scene to life.  Introduce the conflict and then end your narrative at that point.

Comprehending

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN DESCRIPTIVE & FIGURATIVE LANGUAGE

It may come as a surprise (for some) to learn that descriptive language and figurative language are two VERY different things.

If an exam question in the Comprehending Section asks you to talk about descriptive language, and you start exploring similes and personification… well then, you’re barking up the wrong tree!   (That’s an idiom BTW 😊)

DESCRIPTIVE LANGUAGE:  writers use these to create vivid images or imagery and they often appeal to our 5 senses.

  • Verbs
  • Adverbs
  • Adjectives

 FIGURATIVE LANGUAGE:  writers use these to create particular effects or because it helps them convey an idea.

  • Simile
  • Metaphor
  • Personification
  • Onomatopoeia
  • Alliteration
  • Hyperbole (exaggeration)
  • Idioms

You've been studying these language techniques since you started high school, maybe even before that, so we’re not going to bother explaining each here.  But definitely Google any that you don’t know.

AND make sure you know the difference between DESCRIPTIVE v FIGURATIVE.

Our next post will focus on how you can discuss SIMILES AND METAPHORS in the COMPREHENDING SECTION, including how to STRUCTURE YOUR SHORT ANSWER PARAGRAPHS.  Be sure to tune in 🙂