Insider GCSE creative writing tips + 106 prompts from past papers
by Hayley | Mar 9, 2023 | Exams , Writing | 0 comments
Are you feeling a little bit twitchy about your child’s English GCSE writing task?
Sciences and humanities – although sometimes daunting in their content – seem a fair bet as ‘revisable’ topics. But the creative writing element of the English Language GCSE is less knowable and ultimately more of a frightening prospect for a student keen to do well.
What is the GCSE writing element of the GCSE Language Paper?
There are 5 key GCSE exam boards: AQA , OCR , Pearson Edexcel , WJEC Eduqas and CCEA . Each board sets their own papers which may appear much the same at first glance (bizarrely they all have a similar front cover layout and fonts). Certainly there is plenty of overlap between their mark schemes and the comments and tips they share in their Examiner Reports.
However, as with all your child’s other subjects, it is essential to know which exam board they are preparing for. You may be surprised to discover that schools pick and choose boards by subject, perhaps choosing AQA for chemistry and OCR for mathematics. Individual school departments have their own preferences. My brother teaches at a school where their English Literature and English Language exams have been split between two different boards. This is unusual though, not the norm!
What forms (question formats) can the test take?
It varies by board.
The AQA board has a writing task in their Question Paper 1 called Explorations in creative reading and writing . Students are given two prompts to choose between. The AQA board also has a second persuasive writing task in Paper 2 called Writers’ viewpoints and perspectives.
Jump ahead to AQA creative writing and persuasive writing prompts from past GCSE papers
The Pearson/Edexcel international iGCSE favoured by many UK private schools has two prompts to choose between for each section. The student is asked to complete a piece of transactional writing (perhaps a persuasive speech or an advertisement leaflet) and additionally a piece of imaginative writing.
Jump ahead to Pearson/Edexcel transactional writing and imaginative writing prompts from past GCSE papers
Interestingly, the WJEC Eduqas board favours non-fiction writing. Unit 2 Reading and Writing: Description, Narration and Exposition gives two prompts to choose between, for an account and an essay perhaps, and Unit 3: Reading and Writing: Argumentation, Persuasion and Instructional sets up a letter, or similar.
Jump ahead to WJEC Eduqas non-fiction writing prompts from past GCSE papers
The OCR board offers two prompts to choose between. One might be a talk for other students and the other might be a letter on a difficult subject .
Jump ahead to OCR creative writing prompts from past GCSE papers
The CCEA board has a writing task in called “ Writing for Purpose and Audience and Reading to Access Non-fiction and Media Texts” and a second writing task which offers a choice between personal writing and creative writing.
Jump ahead to CCEA persuasive writing, personal writing, and creative prompts from past GCSE papers
How long do students have to craft their piece of writing?
Creative writing tests are timed at either 45 minutes or 1 hour. The last thing your child will need is to prepare to write for an hour, only to find they have just three-quarters of an hour on the day. If in doubt, insist that they check with their teacher.
AQA students are given 45 minutes to produce their writing response. The introduction advises: ‘ You are reminded of the need to plan your answer. You should leave enough time to check your work at the end.’ What this means is that 30–35 minutes max is what’s really allowed there for the writing itself.
Pearson/Edexcel allows 45 minutes for each of the two writing tasks.
OCR students are given an hour to complete this section of their exam. The introduction states: ‘You are advised to plan and check your work carefully,’ so they will expect the writing itself to take 45–50 minutes.
How long should the completed GCSE writing task be?
Interestingly, although the mark schemes all refer to paragraphingthey don’t state how many paragraphs they expect to see.
‘A skilfully controlled overall structure, with paragraphs and grammatical features used to support cohesion and achieve a range of effects’ (OCR)
‘Fluently linked paragraphs with seamlessly integrated discourse markers’ (AQA)
Why? Because management of paragraph and sentence length is a structural technique available to the student as part of their writers’ toolkit. If the number of optimal paragraphs were to be spelled out by the board, it would have a negative impact on the freedom of the writer to use their paragraphs for impact or to manage the pace of the reader.
For a general guide I would expect to see 3 to 5 paragraphs in a creative piece and 5 paragraphs in a persuasive piece. Leaflets have a different structure entirely and need to be set out in a particular form to achieve the top notes of the mark scheme.
What are the examiners looking for when they are marking a student’s creative writing paper?
There are two assessment objectives for the writing itself:
- It has to be adapted to the form, tone and register of writing for specific purposes and audiences.
- It has to use a range of vocabulary and sentence structures, with appropriate paragraphing, spelling, punctuation and grammar.
As a GCSE English nerd, I really enjoy delving deeper into the Examiner Reports that each board brings out once the previous cohort’s papers have been marked. They are a fascinating read and never disappoint…
Within their pages, examiners spell out the differences they have spotted between the stronger and the weaker responses.
For example, a creative task set by the AQA board was to describe a photograph of a town at sunset. The examiners explained that some of the strongest responses imagined changes in the scene as darkness descended. They enjoyed reading responses that included personification of the city, and those that imagined the setting in the past, or the weariness of the city. Weaker candidates simply listed what was in the picture or referred directly to the fact it was an image. This chronological-list approach weakened the structure of their work.
No surprises that some weaker students relied heavily on conversation. (As an exam marker myself, I dreaded reading acres of uninspiring direct speech.)
Pearson/Edexcel explain that weaker persuasive pieces (in this case on the value of television) simply listed pros and cons rather than developed ideas fully to clarify their own opinions. The higher-level responses here were quirky and engaging, entertaining the reader with a range of appropriate techniques and making the argument their own.
What accommodations are possible for students who have specific learning difficulties?
The UK Government’s Guide for Schools and Colleges 2022: GCSE, AS and A Levels includes information about changes to assessments to support ‘disabled students.’ Their definition of disabled includes specific learning difficulties (dyslexia, dyspraxia, ADHD, ADD, ASD etc).
Exam boards can make a wide range of adjustments to their assessments. Some of the most common adjustments are:
- modified papers (for example, large print or braille exam papers)
- access to assistive software (for example, voice recognition systems or computer readers)
- help with specific tasks (for example, another person might read questions to the student or write their dictated answers)
- changes to how the assessment is done (for example, an oral rather than a written assessment, word-processing rather than hand-writing answers)
- extra time to complete assessments
- exemptions from an assessment
The exam board will expect paperwork to be in place where your child’s specific needs are formally reported by an appropriate professional (Educational Psychologist, Clinical Psychologist, Consultant). The report needs to be recent, but how recent is difficult to confirm.
If your child is likely to need adjustments to their access arrangements you will need to discuss this with their school in plenty of time before the exam itself.
A close friend of mine realised in the final few weeks before her son’s GCSE exams that his tinnitus would have a negative impact on his performance. She approached the school to ask if he might take his exams in a separate room to minimise noise disturbance. Unfortunately, it was far too late by then to apply, and her son was denied the request.
Your child’s school will explain the process for applying for special arrangements and will be able to advise you on what your expectations should be. Never presume your child will be given what they need – but plenty of requests are successful, so stay positive and make sure your paperwork is in order beforehand.
Tips and strategies for writing a high scoring GCSE creative writing paper:
1. learn the formats.
Know the different formats and conventions of the different GCSE writing tasks. There is a standard layout for a leaflet, for example, where including contact details and a series of bullet points is part of the mark scheme. Not knowing these conventions will knock back a student’s score.
2. Plan ahead
Prepare a planning structure for each of the written forms you might encounter during the exam. It may need to be flexed on the day, but it will banish fear of the blank page and allow you to get started.
3. Prepare sentence-openings
Familiarise yourself with appropriate sentence-openings for each type of GCSE writing task. Fronted adverbials of time and place will improve the quality of a creative piece, whereas access to varied and specific conjunctions might push up the mark of a transactional piece.
4. Check your speaking
Ask your family to check your speech at home. Every now and then try to flip a sentence into formal language, using more interesting synonyms for your usual spoken vocabulary. This will help you to write formally on paper, avoiding colloquialisms.
5. Forget finishing
Finishing is less important than you might imagine. Sloppy, hurried work is your enemy. GCSE examiners will follow your clear planning and mark you accordingly, even if you’ve not managed to complete that final paragraph.
6. Note the details
The question often gives additional information the examiner would like to see included. Note it in your plan to make sure it doesn’t get forgotten.
7. Start strong
Use your best sentence-opener at the start of each paragraph. It will set you up as someone to be taken seriously.
8. Cut back dialogue
Keep dialogue contained in a single paragraph. Focus on description of the speaker and their actions before noting the second character’s reply.
Do this by prepping work as above. Nothing beats it.
Would you like me to transform your child’s writing in my higher writing club?
Each week in my higher writing club , we spend 20 minutes on Zoom together. After the task has been introduced, the students write for 15 minutes. Next, they upload their work for 1:1 video marking.
There is no point prepping essays/creative pieces for the GCSE English Language exam if your child’s writing is poor. First, their scruffy presentation, attention to detail, punctuation, grammar and vocabulary need to be addressed.
After 2 months in the higher writing club your child’s written technique and fluency will be transformed by our 1–2-1 video marking system (consistent messaging is achieved by matching your child with their own teacher).
Each weekly activity is drawn directly from the GCSE English Language Subject Content and Assessment Objectives , published by the English Department of Education.
Here’s an example of a student’s writing, BEFORE they joined our club:
It is chaotic, poorly-presented and nonsensical. Letter-sizing is confused and the student is clearly anxious and repeatedly scribbling through small errors.
Below is the same student 2 months later:
Observe the rich vocabulary, authorial techniques (the jagged rocks are ‘like shards of broken glass’) and general fluency and sophistication.
Real and recent GCSE example questions/prompts from each of the 5 key exam boards
Aqa english language gcse questions, paper 2 writers’ viewpoints and perspectives:.
- ‘Our addiction to cheap clothes and fast fashion means young people in poorer countries have to work in terrible conditions to make them. We must change our attitude to buying clothes now.’ Write an article for a magazine or website in which you argue your point of view on this statement. ( Source )
- ‘People have become obsessed with travelling ever further and faster. However, travel is expensive, dangerous, damaging and a foolish waste of time!’ Write an article for a news website in which you argue your point of view on this statement. ( Source )
- ‘Cars are noisy, dirty, smelly and downright dangerous. They should be banned from all town and city centres, allowing people to walk and cycle in peace.’ Write a letter to the Minister for Transport arguing your point of view on this statement. ( Source )
- ‘All sport should be fun, fair and open to everyone. These days, sport seems to be more about money, corruption and winning at any cost.’ Write an article for a newspaper in which you explain your point of view on this statement. ( Source )
Paper 1 Explorations in creative reading and writing:
- A magazine has asked for contributions for their creative writing section. Either write a description of an old person as suggested by the picture below or write a story about a time when things turned out unexpectedly. ( Source )
- Your school or college is asking students to contribute some creative writing for its website. Either, describe a market place as suggested by the picture below or write a story with the title, ‘Abandoned’. ( Source )
- Your local library is running a creative writing competition. The best entries will be published in a booklet of creative writing. Either, write a description of a mysterious place, as suggested by the picture below or write a story about an event that cannot be explained. ( Source )
- A magazine has asked for contributions for their creative writing section. Either, describe a place at sunset as suggested by the picture below or write a story about a new beginning. ( Source )
OCR English Language GCSE questions
Paper: communicating information and ideas.
- Either, Write a post for an online forum for young people about ‘A moment that changed my life’.
- Or, You are giving a talk at a parents’ information evening about why all children should study science at school. Explain your views. ( Source )
- Either, Write a letter to a friend to describe a challenging and unpleasant task you once had to do.
- Or, Write a short guide for new workers about how to deal successfully with difficult customers. ( Source )
- Either, “Was it worth it?” Write an article for a magazine to describe a time when you had to do something difficult.
- Or, Write a speech for an event to congratulate young people who have achieved something remarkable. ( Source )
- Either, Write the words of a talk to advise pet owners how to make life more enjoyable for their pet and themselves.
- Or, Write an article for a travel magazine to describe your dramatic encounter with an animal. ( Source )
- Either, ‘How I prefer to spend my time.’ Write the words of a talk to young people about your favourite activity
- Or, Write a magazine article to persuade parents to allow their teenage children more freedom. You are not required to include any visual or presentational features. ( Source )
- Either, Write a talk for other students about a person you either admire strongly or dislike intensely
- Or, Write a letter to a friend to explain a difficult decision you had to make. ( Source )
Paper: Exploring effects and impact
- Either, Hunger satisfied. Use this as the title for a story.
- Or, Write about a time when you were waiting for something. ( Source )
- Either, The Taste of Fear Use this as the title for a story.
- Or, Write about a time when you were exploring a particular place. ( Source )
- Either, Alone. Use this as the title for a story.
- Or, Describe a time when you found yourself in a crowd or surrounded by people. ( Source )
- Either, Land at Last. Use this as the title for a story.
- Or, Imagine you have visited somewhere for the first time and are now reporting back on your experience. ( Source )
- Either, The Playground Use this as the title for a story
- Or, Write about a memory you have of playing a childhood game. ( Source )
- Either, It seemed to me like I had been magically transported. Use this as the title for a story.
- Or, Describe a place where you have felt comfortable. ( Source )
Pearson Edexcel English Language iGCSE questions
Paper 1: transactional writing.
- Either, ‘In our busy twenty-first century lives, hobbies and interests are more important than ever.’ Write an article for a newspaper expressing your views on this statement.
- Or, ‘We are harming the planet we live on and need to do more to improve the situation.’ You have been asked to deliver a speech to your peers in which you explain your views on this statement. ( Source )
- ‘ Zoos protect endangered species from around the world.’ ‘No wild animal should lose its freedom and be kept in captivity. Write an article for a magazine in which you express your views on zoos.
- Write a review of an exciting or interesting event that you have seen. ( Source )
- Your local newspaper has published an article with the headline ‘Young people today lack any desire for adventure’. Write a letter to the editor of the newspaper expressing your views on this topic.
- ‘The key to success in anything is being prepared.’ Write a section for a guide giving advice on the importance of preparation. ( Source )
- You and your family have just returned from a holiday that did not turn out as you expected. Write a letter to the travel agent with whom you booked your holiday, explaining what happened.
- A magazine is publishing articles with the title ‘Friendship is one of the greatest gifts in life’. Write your article on this topic. ( Source )
- ‘Important lessons I have learned in my life.’ You have been asked to deliver a speech to your peers on this topic.
- Your local/school library wants to encourage young people to read more. Write the text of a leaflet explaining the benefits of reading. ( Source )
- ‘Most memorable journeys.’ A website is running a competition to reward the best articles on this subject. Write an article for the competition about a memorable journey.
- ‘Cycling is one form of exercise that can lead to a healthier lifestyle.’ Write a guide for young people on the benefits of exercise. ( Source )
- ‘Television educates, entertains and helps global understanding.’ ‘Television is to blame for society’s violence and greed and delivers one-sided news.’ You have been asked to deliver a speech in which you express your views and opinions on television.
- ‘Choosing a career is one of the most important decisions we ever make.’ Write the text of a leaflet that gives advice to young people on how to choose a career. ( Source )
- Write the text for a leaflet aimed at school students which offers advice on how to deal with bullying.
- A museum is planning to open a new exhibition called ‘Life in the Twenty-First Century’. ( Source )
Paper 2: Imaginative writing
- Write about a time when you, or someone you know, enjoyed success
- Write a story with the title ‘A Surprise Visitor’.
- Look at the two images below. Choose one and write a story that begins ‘I did not have time for this’ ( Source )
- Write about a time when you, or someone you know, challenged an unfair situation.
- Write a story with the title ‘Bitter, Twisted Lies’.
- Look at the two images below. Choose one and write a story that begins ‘It was a new day …’ You may wish to base your response on one of these images. ( Source )
- Write about a time when you, or someone you know, visited a new place.
- Write a story with the title ‘The Storm’
- Look at the two images below. Choose one and write a story that ends ‘I decided to get on with it.’ ( Source )
- Write about a time when you, or someone you know, saw something surprising.
- Write a story with the title ‘The Meeting’.
- Look at the two images below. Choose one and write a story that starts ‘Suddenly, without warning, there was a power cut.’ ( Source )
- Write about a time when you, or someone you know, went on a long journey.
- Write a story with the title ‘A New Start’
- Look at the two images below. Choose one and write a story that begins ‘I tried to see what he was reading. ( Source )
- Write about a time when you, or someone you know, felt proud.
- Write a story with the title ‘The Hidden Book’.
- Look at the two images below. Choose one and write a story that begins ‘It was like a dream’ ( Source )
- Write about a time when you, or someone you know, had to be brave
- Write a story with the title ‘Everything Had Changed’
- Look at the two images below. Choose one and write a story that begins ‘It was an unusual gift’. ( Source )
WJEC Eduqas English Language GCSE questions
Unit 2 reading and writing: description, narration and exposition.
- Write an account of a time when you enjoyed or hated taking part in an outdoor activity.
- “It’s essential that more people are more active, more often.” (Professor Laura McAllister, Chair of Sport Wales) Write an essay to explain how far you agree with this view, giving clear reasons and examples. ( Source )
- Describe an occasion when you did something you found rewarding.
- Famous chefs such as Jamie Oliver and Mary Berry have spoken of the need for better food and better education about food in schools. Write an essay to explain your views on this subject, giving clear reasons and examples. ( Source )
- Write an account of a visit to a dentist or a doctor’s surgery.
- NHS staff, such as doctors and nurses, provide excellent service in difficult circumstances. Write an essay to explain your views on this subject, giving clear reasons and examples. ( Source )
- Write an article for a travel magazine describing somewhere interesting that you have visited.
- You see the following in your local newspaper: ‘Young people are selfish. They should all be made to volunteer to help others.’ Write an essay to explain your views on this subject, giving clear reasons and examples. ( Source )
- Describe an occasion when technology made a difference to your life.
- Write an account of a time you were unwilling to do something. ( Source )
- Describe a time when you faced a challenge
- Write an essay explaining why charity is important, giving clear reasons and examples. ( Source )
- Write an account of a time when you did something for the first time.
- “It’s time for us to start making some changes. Let’s change the way we eat, let’s change the way we live, and let’s change the way we treat each other.” Tupac Shakur Write an essay on the subject of change, giving clear reasons and examples. ( Source )
- “School uniform is vitally important in all schools.” Write an essay explaining your views on this, giving clear reasons and examples.
- Describe a time when you had to create a good impression. ( Source )
Unit 3: Reading and writing: Argumentation, persuasion and instructional
- Your school/college is considering using more Fairtrade items in its canteen. Although this will help to support Fairtrade farmers, it will mean an increase in the price of meals. You feel strongly about this proposal and decide to write a letter to your Headteacher/Principal giving your views. ( Source )
- Increasing litter levels suggest we have lost all pride in our beautiful country. Prepare a talk for your classmates in which you give your opinions on this view. ( Source )
- Write a guide for other students persuading them to stay safe when using social media and the internet. ( Source )
- According to your PE teacher, ‘Swimming is the very best form of exercise.’ You have been asked to prepare a talk for your classmates in which you give your views about swimming. ( Source )
- You read the following in a newspaper: ‘Plastic is one of the biggest problems faced by our planet. Why would we use something for a few minutes that has been made from a material that’s going to last forever?’ Write a letter to the newspaper giving your views on the use of plastic. ( Source )
- “People today never show enough kindness to one another. We must make more effort to be kind.” Write a talk to give on BBC Wales’ new programme Youth Views persuading young people to be kind to others. ( Source )
- ‘We have enough problems in the world without worrying about animals.’ Write an article for the school or college magazine giving your views on this statement.
- You would like to raise some money for an animal charity. Write a talk for your classmates persuading them to donate to your chosen charity. ( Source )
CCEA English Language GCSE questions
Unit 1: writing for purpose and audience and reading to access non-fiction and media texts.
- Write a speech for your classmates persuading them to agree with your views on the following issue: “Young people today are too worried about their body image.” ( Source )
- Write an article for your school magazine persuading the readers to agree with your views on the following question: “Should school uniform have a place in 21st century schools?” ( Source )
- Write a speech for your classmates persuading them to agree with your views on the following question: “Are celebrities the best role models for teenagers?” ( Source )
- Write an article for your school magazine persuading the readers to agree with your views on the following statement: “Advertising is just another source of pressure that teenagers don’t need!” ( Source )
Unit 4: Personal or creative writing and reading literacy and non-fiction texts
- Either, Personal writing: Write a personal essay for the examiner about what you consider to be one of the proudest moments in your life.
- Or, Creative writing: Write your entry for a creative essay writing competition. The audience is teenagers. You may provide your own title. ( Source )
- Write a personal essay for the examiner about an experience that resulted in a positive change in your life.
- Write a creative essay for the examiner. The picture below is to be the basis for your writing. You may provide your own title. ( Source )
- Personal writing: Write a speech for your classmates about the most interesting person you have ever met.
- Creative writing: Write a creative essay for your school magazine. The picture below is to be the basis for your writing. You may provide your own title. ( Source )
- Personal writing: Write a personal essay for the examiner describing your dream destination.
- Creative writing: Write a creative essay for publication in your school magazine. The picture below is to be the basis for your creative writing. You may provide your own title. (Source)
Get 1:1 support and personalized feedback on your GCSE creative writing practice
For 1–2-1 writing support for your pre-GCSE child, join the Griffin Teaching Higher Writing Club—online weekly writing classes specifically tailored to English GCSE creative writing preparation.
In just 20 minutes per week and their writing will be transformed.
70 Picture Prompts for Creative Writing (with Free Slides)
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Visual writing prompts help young writers generate new ideas and overcome writer’s block. We’ve put together 70 picture prompts for creative writing that you can use in your writing centers or lesson plans to get your students’ creative juices flowing.
Picture Writing Prompts for All Ages
Writers of all ages and experience levels can get stuck thinking about what to write. Writer’s block is not just a challenge for reluctant writers. Even professional writers have days when they feel less than inspired.
Visual prompts can result in a vast array of story ideas. A single image viewed by ten writers will result in ten completely different stories. Even if you use verbal cues to get students thinking about the picture, each student will still write a unique response to the image.
Visual creative writing prompts are fantastic for elementary school because younger students often relate more to a pictorial prompt than a written one, but don’t shy away from using these with high school and middle school students as well. Pictures make a fun alternative to your typical writing prompts and story starters and can help shake up your regular routine.
How to Use Picture Prompts for Creative Writing
There’s no limit to the ways you can use writing prompts. Here are some of our favorite ways to incorporate image prompts into your weekly lesson plans .
- Writing Center. Print cards or writing pages with these images on them and put them in a writing center for your students to discover at their own pace.
- Specific Skills. Use story picture prompts to help kids work on specific writing skills. For example, you could work on descriptive writing by having them describe the setting of the picture in detail. Or you could work on character development by having them make up a history for a person in a picture.
- Warm-up Activity: You could pop the pictures into Google slides and project an image on a screen or whiteboard for the first fifteen minutes of class and have students work on a short story as soon as they enter the class.
No matter how you decide to use them—whether at home or in the classroom—photographic writing prompts are a great way to cultivate a daily writing habit and encourage kids to explore new topics.
70 Pictures for Writing Prompts
We’ve selected 70 of the most interesting pictures we could find for this exercise. When choosing photos for writing prompts, we look for high-quality photos with intriguing subject matter, but we try to go beyond that. We want to share images that suggest a story, that make the viewer ask questions and wonder why things are the way they are.
We want to feel propelled to explore questions like, What happened before the photo that led to this moment? What are we witnessing in this photo? What’s about to happen?
A photo doesn’t make much of a story starter if it doesn’t suggest that there might be a bigger picture lurking beneath the surface.
We hope you and your students love these picture prompts for creative writing as much as we do. If you love them, go ahead and scroll to the bottom to grab your own copy.
We’ve included a couple of questions with each picture that you could use to spark pre-writing conversations in your classroom, which can be helpful when working with younger students who might need a little more direction.
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Whose cat is this? What is he looking at? Where is he?
What is the owl thinking about? Is he alone? What does he hope to eat for dinner?
Who are these frogs? What is their relationship with each other? Why are they taking photos?
How did the dog get a phone? Why is he taking selfies? What is he doing with the pictures he takes?
This cat doesn’t look too happy. What’s bugging him? Did he get too many phone calls or is he waiting on an important call that’s taking too long to come?
What do these chicks think of the dog? What does the dog think of the chicks? Do you think they can communicate with each other? If so, what would they say?
Where do these lemurs live? What are they looking at? What is something unusual that might happen to them?
What is this fox doing? Is he yawning and stretching or is he trying to scare someone away? What kind of mischief does he like to get up to?
Is this wolf alone? If not, who is with him? What is he planning to do? Does he have a family to feed or protect?
What is this child doing on the laptop? Can he actually read and type or is he just playing? If he can read and type, how did he learn that at such a young age? What other cool things can he do?
Where is this woman? Is she lost? How did she get to this street? What interesting things might she discover as she explores this new city?
Why is the dog wearing glasses? Can he see through them? What are he and the girl doing? How does he feel about it?
Who are these two little boys? What is their relationship with each other? What is the teddy bear’s story?
Who are these children? Why are they running? Is it a race or are they playing a game? Who’s going to win?
Whose horse is this? Does the little boy own it or does he just visit it? Can the horse talk? How does the boy feel when he’s with the horse?
What is this boy reading? Does the book have magical powers? Does the boy? Do the stories in the book become real or does something else special happen?
Where is this man? How did he get there? What is he looking for?
Who is walking over the bridge? What’s on the other side? Is it worth the risk?
What are these people doing on the elephant? Where are they? Are they tourists or is the elephant their pet? What would life with an elephant be like?
Who made this map? It looks old. Has it been hidden away for a long time? Who discovered it and how? What does it lead to?
Whose typewriter is this? What important or secretive thing might they be working on? What could happen if the wrong person finds their work?
Who are these three stuffed animals? Are they living? What is their story?
Whose ukulele is this? Why did they leave it here? Who might find it?
Where is the owner of the bike? Where does this path lead? What if the bike’s not there when the owner returns?
Whose shoes are these? Why did they leave them here? Why are they so dirty?
Who was reading the newspaper? What was the most interesting thing they read? Where have they disappeared to?
Who put this sign on the old truck? What do you think of it? How did the truck end up in its current condition and location?
Who set the table? Who are they expecting? What special occasion are they celebrating? What could go wrong?
Whose birthday cake is this? Are they having a party? Who is there? Who did they want to have there that didn’t show up?
Who lives here? How do they access their home? What is their life like?
Who built the igloo? Where is it? How does it feel to spend the night inside it?
What is the history of this castle? Who lives in it now? Does it have any special or magical features?
Is this barn abandoned or do people live on the property? What kind of animals might live here? How do they keep themselves entertained?
What is it like living on a houseboat? What kind of community do you think forms among the neighbors? Imagine you live on one of these boats and think about how your daily life might change. What interesting things could you do if you lived here? What would you miss the most?
Where is this hut? Who lives here? What mystery might unfold if a stranger came knocking at their door?
What is this lighthouse called? Who runs it? How often do they leave? What is the most memorable experience they’ve had as a lighthouse operator?
How did this house get here? Does anyone live in it? What would life be like here?
Where is this festive street? Are the people there celebrating something? Where is everybody?
Who lives here? How did they build this house? Are they hiding from something? What does it look like inside?
Whose notebook is this? Why did they leave it here? What’s written in it and how might it change the life of the person who finds it?
What are these women doing? What are they supposed to be doing? Will they be in trouble if they get caught?
Who might be represented in this statue? Why is she being pulled by lions? What amazing things might she have done to deserve a statue in this prominent place?
Where is this? Who is riding in the hot air balloons? Where are they going and why?
How old is this tree? Where is it? What are some of the most fascinating stories it could tell?
Where is this carousel? Who is riding it? Can you think of a special or strange story about how it came to exist in this particular place?
What are these people thinking about? What’s at stake for them? What happens if one of them sneezes?
Where are these penguins? What are they talking about? Which one of them is the leader?
What is this place? Was it designed to be open like this or was it once part of someone’s home or a public building? How have people’s opinions of this place changed over time?
Who are these kids? Is this what they’re supposed to be doing? What happens when their teacher sees them?
Who is supposed to ride in this boat? Where are they going? Will they make it there?
Is this plane special to someone? What did they have to do to get it/build it? Where will they fly to in it?
Who decorated this train car? Which passengers will fill it up? What will they talk about?
Whose skis are these? Why are they sticking out of the snow? How did their owner get down the mountain without them?
Where does this gondola go? Who rides it? How does it feel to ride it?
Who’s driving the monster truck? Why is it at the beach? What is it going to crush? Who is watching?
Where is the boat going? Who is on it? What is their mission?
What city is the helicopter flying over? Why? Is the driver looking for something specific or do they have a special delivery?
What’s the little boy doing in the boat? Is he alone or is someone with him? Where is he trying to go?
Who is in the sub? What’s it like inside? What are they doing?
Whose book is this? What’s it about? What’s happening to it?
How did that piece of land with the house on it break off from the rest of the world? Why? Where is it going? Is anyone in the house?
Who is this girl? Where is she? Who is she shooting at?
Where does this scene take place? Is the lizard/dragon good or bad? What is its relationship with the girl?
What do these books represent? What kind of world is this? What (or who) is inside the books?
What are these dinosaurs discussing? Where are they? What do they do for fun?
Whose cottage is this? Do they still live there? If not, where have they gone? If so, what do they do there?
What is the moth thinking about? Is it alone? What’s the biggest challenge it faces in this moment?
Who is the owl looking at? Has it read these books? What is its greatest talent?
Where are these trees? Why are they pink? Do they have any special powers or features?
What do you think? Which kind of pictures do you like best for creative writing prompts ? Let us know in the comments.
Tuesday 17th of October 2023
I tried this with myself and my 6th-grade students, and they love it. it gives room for so much creativity.
Tuesday 30th of May 2023
This is very good idea and it really works, viewing these one try to think one's own way that what these pictures are telling or asking? I also recommend that this idea should also be given to the students for building their creative instinct.
Sunday 26th of March 2023
I LOVE THIS
MELANIE KENDRY ENGLISH TUTOR
25 Awesome Story Ideas for Creative Writing for GCSE English Language
All about character.
 Old man loses his last picture of himself with his long dead wife. This could link to ‘Long Distance’ by Tony Harrison. Trying to find it, he goes through her things. This is one for flashback. He discovers secrets, or that she has left him a series of letters/notes for after her death. Start this when he realises he’s lost the picture.
 A woman’s (or man’s) jealousy of her (or his) best friend takes over their life . Could link to ‘Othello’ or ‘Medusa’. Think about why. Start this when the woman is with her friend in a frenzy of jealousy…
 A model who has always been obsessed with her looks has acid splashed in her face and is disfigured. Could link to ‘Les Grands Seigneurs’, or ‘Mirror’ by Sylvia Plath. Start this with her looking in the mirror then opening her front door… By the way, this story is true. The woman in the picture is called Katie Piper .
 Fear of heights : nine year old with family who are in visiting a famous tall tower for the first time. The rest of her family want to go up the tower, but if the child won’t go up, someone will have to stay behind with them. Start this at the foot of the tower…
Want more ideas? Get a complete set plus a teaching scheme with model essays and all resources on my TES Resources shop here .
 Small child really wants cake but has been forbidden from taking it down from the shelf. Start this story with the child lusting after the cake, which you should describe – baking, decorating etc – in delicious detail. [ read a short, very funny version of this here ]
 A man is obsessed with a woman who does not love him back (or the other way round) . Could link to ‘Havisham’ by Carol Ann Duffy, ‘Give’ or ‘Alaska’ by Simon Armitage or ‘The River God’ by Stevie Smith . Start this when he realises she doesn’t love him back or when he decides to do something about it – get a haircut, stop eating raw onions, go to the gym, pretend that he also loves ‘horoscopes’ and ‘shopping’…
 Dangerous Ambition (links to Macbeth). Want the lead role in the school play (or to be head girl/boy)? What will you do to get it? Start this when you realise the lead is up for grabs but you’re not the first choice.
Racing Car driver (motorcross, road or drag racer) is up against his old teammate, now his main rival. Driver needs to win this one or it’s the end of his career. He sees that one of the mechanics on his rival’s car has fixed something up wrong. What does he do?
 Jealous woman (or man) chases husband (wife) to find out where they’re going. Could link to ‘Medusa’, ‘Havisham’, or ‘Othello’. Start this story when they decide to chase / follow. Use flashback, or recollection to explain why.
 Small child really wants to go to another child’s birthday party but there’s a problem. He has to go to his dad’s that weekend/hasn’t been invited/has to go to the dentist instead. How does he deal with or solve it? Start this story at the moment where the child realises he can’t go. [ read a short, hilarious one here ] III Lost
 An old man, who has never cooked or cleaned for himself, has just got home after his wife died (of old age, in hospital). You could link this to ‘Old Age Gets Up’ by Ted Hughes. Now he has to try to do housework – cook, etc. Could be comic / tragic.
 You go for a forest walk (e.g. on a Geography trip or DofE) with someone you don’t like much from school and get lost. Could link to Robert Frost’s poem ‘The Road Not Taken’, ‘Storm in the Black Forest’ by D.H. Lawrence or ‘Wind’ by Ted Hughes. Start this story just before the main character begins to suspect they are lost. Start funny, ends up scary as it starts to go dark. Get describing words for a forest story here .
 Parent-Child: In a busy town centre, a mother loses her child who has previously been annoying her . Link this to ‘Mother A Distance Greater…’ by Simon Armitage, ‘Catrin’ by Gillian Clarke or ‘My Father Thought it Bloody Queer’. Start this with the child’s tantrum, mother’s thoughts then quickly move to realising the child is gone.
 World famous BMXer (or other sports person, footballer, skateboarder, surfer) is in a car crash – or other accident – and loses his leg. Will he ever ride again? This can link to ‘Out, Out-‘ by Robert Frost. For more on the guy in the photo see this video . Start this story when he wakes up in a hospital bed.
 A bsent father returns trying to spend time with his kids. How do they react to seeing him after so long? [this idea is done beautifully in the story, ‘Compass and Torch’ in the AQA anthology Sunlight on the Grass]. You could also link this to ‘Follower’ by Seamus Heaney. Start this when the re’s a knock at the front door.
 You win a million pounds on the lottery. Everyone you know wants some. What would you buy? Friendships are ruined. Then you are robbed… Start this when you check your bank balance and there are sooooo many noughts at the end it looks like a bank malfunction. IV Coming of Age
 Death of a pet. Ferociously funny, very short story about a girl and a fish [ here ]. Start this when you find the pet… dead, or just before. You can use flashback – when you first got the pet, etc.
 Learning a secret you wish you’d never found out – e.g. finding texts on your dad’s mobile from his girlfriend while your parents are still married – or learning that your mum is planning to secretly leave your dad. Start this when you’re just idly messing with the parent’s phone or laptop.
 falling in love for the first time , as in Romeo and Juliet. Start this when they see each other or their first proper meeting. Link this to ‘Sonnet 18 Shall I Compare Thee’, ‘Sonnet 116 Let Me Not’, ‘Quickdraw’ or ‘Hour’, by Carol Ann Duffy or ‘To His Coy Mistress’ by Andrew Marvell.
 The first time you have to do a really disgusting piece of housework / cook a meal for yourself and how you tackle it. Start this when you realise that no one else is going to do this foul job except you. Read a description of cooking a meal here .
V The Chase / Monsters
 You’re camping with your friend in the woods. Then you hear a noise outside (wolves, person, etc). Start this as you’re getting settled to go to sleep – then you hear snuffling (or whatever). Read Bill Bryson’s hilarious account of this exact event, and also an account of surviving a bear attack from the OCR exam paper here.
 You have something someone else wants – gold, diamonds etc. They chase you to get it. You choose the landscape: city, ruined derelict warehouses, Brazil, forest, cliffs etc. Start this at the moment you realise someone is following you. You can link this to the final chapter of Lord of the Flies .
 You are the last surviving human after the zombie/vampire apocalypse. Now they have found you. This is the plot of ‘I Am Legend’. You can link this to Edwin Muir’s post-apocalyptic poem ‘Horses’, ‘Wind’ by Ted Hughes or the final chapter of Lord of the Flies . Start this at the moment you (or the main character) realises someone is coming towards your hiding place.
 The King is a tyrant who has killed your family. Now you will take revenge . Start this story as you are just about to go through the city walls.
 You wake up and discover you have been turned into a giant insect. How does your family react? This is the plot of Kafka’s Metamorphosis. Read this here . Start at the point you wake up, and gradually realise what has happened.
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11 Intriguing Images for Creative Writing
~ 27th April 2020 ~
“A picture paints a thousand words.”
And a picture can, without a doubt, inspire a student to write 1000 words. In this journal entry, I want to share with you some fascinating photographs that can be used as writing prompts. These intriguing images can spark endless trains of thought and countless questions, leading to some top-notch creative writing.
I suggest using the images to ignite your pupils’ imaginations and provide an opportunity for an extended piece of writing. Ask them to generate their own questions about the images or provide them with question prompts to help them to mind-map their thoughts and ideas. Using visual stimuli can certainly help children to build their vocabulary and improve their use of descriptive language .
Use the button below to share these intriguing images with others.
Image credits to: Joan Verstuyft , Tom Cash , Thomas Kelley , Fred Kearney , Kevin Noble , Matt Artz , Rene Asmussen , John-Mark Smith , Snapwire , Gratisography
8 literacy activities based on the bfg.
18th August 2016
With the release of the new Steven Spielberg big screen adaptation of Roald Dahl's 'The BFG', I thought it apt to share with you some of my favourite BFG resources for teaching English.
Activities for Children at Home (Part 4): English
21st March 2020
Today's entry to the series focuses on English activities and ideas. I hope to provide you with a wide range of educational suggestions to keep your children occupied while they are at home.
About the Author
Julianne Britton is an experienced teacher and author. Having taught across KS1 and KS2 and after just 3 years, she was promoted into leadership and given the responsibility of 'Science and Computing Coordinator'.
Specialising in 11+ entrance exams and SATs preparation, she has also worked as a private tutor, successfully supporting the education of 50+ students and, in addition to writing for CGP Books and Teach Primary magazine, Julianne also publishes educational resources for teachers on TES.
Julianne is also a member of MENSA.
Get in touch via [email protected] , Twitter or LinkedIn .
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Places – GCSE English Language
Using images for descriptive and narrative writing, teachers' notes.
About this classroom resource
Download documents and transcripts
This collection of photographs from The National Archives’ image library has been collated to provide a resource for English Language GCSE. The images can be used for descriptive or narrative creative writing prompts, allowing students to consider a variety of historical scenes as inspiration for their writing.
Each image has been presented as a full page spread before key areas have been extracted for close detail description and prompts for the imagination. These pages can be used as a ready-made resource or adapted to suit your own classroom purposes.
A generic question page has also been provided to allow students to focus on their own details within the photographs, rather than those pre-selected.
While the resources have been designed with the English Language GCSE in mind, they can be used for other age groups to develop imagination when considering character and description.
Each image has been provided with its original document reference and description to offer some context to the image if desired, such as time period and location. However, the descriptions are deliberately brief and there are no correct answers required in creative writing. The photographs are presented as prompts only and students are not required to write creatively about actual historical places, figures or events.
COPY1/461/577 Collapse of cliff by the Lord Nelson Public House at Lowestoft 1903 A man peers over the edge of a cliff which has eroded to the door of the Lord Nelson Public House
COPY1/463/199 Burning of Cleethorpes Pier, 1903 Photograph of the burning of Cleethorpes Pier, June 1903
COPY 1/460/87 Men descending by aerial railway at Beachy Head lighthouse, 1903 A group of men photographed as they take the aerial railway to the Beachy Head lighthouse
COPY 1/454/252 Market day, Taunton, 1902 Photograph of Market Day on the Parade, Taunton, taken from Market House
COPY 1/376/116 Whitby Abbey, 1886 A view of Whitby Abbey with pond and cattle across foreground, 1886.
DSIR4/3628 Damage to structures by flood and gales during winter 1952-53 A house showing substantial damage after the winter storms of 1952-53
COPY1/375(67) Boat with house and windmill in the background, Countryside scene, P H Emerson, 1886 surveys, 1953-1954 A couple boating on the river in front of a house and windmill.
INF9/706 St Ives, Cornwall, 1930s A view of St Ives, Cornwall, from the water in the 1930s.
INF9/683 Blackpool Pleasure Beach, Big Dipper and Boating Pool, 1930s A view of Blackpool’s rides and boating pool from the water in the 1930s
- AQA GCSE (9-1) English Language Paper 1: ‘Explorations in Creative Reading and Writing’, Section B – Writing
- Edexcel GCSE (9-1) English Language Paper 1: ‘Fiction and Imaginative Writing’, Section B – Imaginative Writing
- (Although this exam question is not based on an image as with the other exam boards, students may benefit from thinking of character and setting in this way before moving on to text based questions.)
These questions can be used for each of these photographs to begin thinking about describing the places.
What can you see?
Where might this be?
Why might this photograph have been taken?
What happened just before the photograph was taken?
What happened just after the photograph was taken?
More questions about each image can be found on the individual pages. These questions are accompanied by cropped sections of the images within our downloadable lesson pack found here.
People – gcse english language.
5 Image-based Descriptive Writing Prompts
Need a better way to practise writing? Below, you’ll find 5 image-based descriptive writing prompts which are a great way to go!
If you’re studying creative writing, you’ve probably heard of them and might have even used them by now! If you’re a non-fiction writer or just an everyday writer, especially if you’re just getting started, this might be a new thing for you – but it is definitely a thing!
Every writer gets inspiration from different sources. It could be a neighbour, a friend, a local event, a tragedy, a painting, or even music and a particular song. It’s the same with images and photos – it can spark your creativity in no time!
Before we get into how image-based descriptive writing works and give you a couple of assignments, make sure you check our online English school where you can find courses like these:
Basic Descriptive Writing
Advanced Descriptive Writing
AQA GCSE English Language Paper 2
How to use image prompts for writing:
- Take a good look at the image.
An interesting photo, or the one that is deceptively simple – is an inspiration. This could literally be any photo that catches your eye – whether you found it online or in your personal belongings.
- Take a few moments to absorb the details in the photo.
What is the main focal point? Is it the background or foreground? What about colour, light, and all other small details?
- Allow your senses to experience the photo and at the same time allow words to form in your head.
A story might start, whether it is just a couple of sentences or a few words. Try imagining you’re explaining that same photo to a friend, but the friend is unable to see it – what would you say to them?
- Start writing, whether words form in your mind or not.
In journalism, there is a “Five W’s + H” rule, meaning that you should answer these questions: who, what, when, where, why and how, and it can be really helpful if you don’t know where to start as this gives you a direction to follow.
- What comes to mind for you will be completely different from others as it’s based on your own experience and beliefs.
So, keep on writing and then edit later – it all depends on your purpose. If you think you’re onto something, keep going, see how the story develops. But even if you set it aside for another time, it’s a never wasted effort.
Task: What can you see? What do you think has happened/is happening/will happen? Where did the house come from? How do you think it got here? Why is it surrounded by all of the bricks? Who is the woman inside the house? Why is she looking out of the window? What might she be thinking?
There are so many ways to practise and improve your writing, so check our post on Descriptive Writing Prompts to get more ideas!
Task: Using the image above as an inspiration, write a creative piece in which you describe a day in nature.
Task: Who is this girl? How old is she? What is she doing, alone, in a cafe? Who do you think she’s texting? Does she look sad, or happy, or worried to you?
Task: You’re sitting across this building. Imagine and create a life for a couple of people living there.
For the last task, pick a random photo from your phone or a computer; some that you’re fond of and describe what it is about.
Do you want some tips on how to write more vividly? Check out this post that has all the answers you’re looking for!
Thanks for reading! If you found this useful, check our online English Language and Literature school where you can find a variety of courses that will help you enhance your English skills and grades!
How to Get Started with Narrative Writing
What do I need to do for AQA Language Paper 2?
How to do well in the AQA GCSE Paper 2 Exam!
How to Write a Perfect Essay on The Crucible by Arthur Miller
AQA Power and Conflict: Example A* / L9 Grade Paragraph
Descriptive Writing: The train
Make Your Own CAIE IGCSE Poetry Exam Questions
Structuring Your Argument Effectively
Crafting a Strong Thesis Statement
The Impact of Technology on Language and Writing Styles
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How to Structure Creative Writing for GCSE (Creative Writing Examples!)
Posted on August, 2022
Having plenty of ideas for creative writing is one thing, but nailing down the right structure can be a bit more challenging.
There are several steps for children to think about before they begin writing, and that includes creating a structure or plan for how their story will flow.
Creative writing is all about grabbing the reader’s attention immediately, so children in their GCSE years need to understand the importance of structure when writing, in order to organise their ideas and make sure their work reads cohesively.
In this post we will go through everything your child needs to know from paragraphing, to creating a satisfying ending, providing examples along the way to demonstrate the best way to structure their creative writing.
How to Structure Your Creative Writing
There are several types of creative writing questions that could come up on the GCSE reading and writing exam , and more often than not, there will be the option to either write creatively based on an image, or a made-up scenario.
Regardless of the question type, having a solid structure for longer creative writing questions and exercises helps to ensure your child is prepared.
By using a structure that helps to organise your child’s ideas, it helps their writing to flow, and allows your child to become more confident in their creative writing process.
Planning is more important than you might think, as mark schemes from most exam boards include ‘well-controlled paragraphs’ or something very similar within the top band of criteria for creative writing.
Therefore, children should practise planning out creative writing structures well before their writing exam, giving them time to get into the habit of always providing themselves with a simple, but focussed idea of what they are going to write.
First of all, paragraphing is central to creative writing as this is what keeps the structure solid.
In order to stick to a creative writing structure, children must know exactly when to end and start a new paragraph, and how much information each paragraph should contain.
For example, introducing the main character, diving into the action of the story, and providing 10 descriptive sentences of the weather and location, could be separated and spread throughout for impact.
Structuring a creative writing piece also involves creating an appropriate timeline of events and mapping out exactly where the story will go from start to finish. This is assuming the writing piece is in sequential order. Occasionally, there may be a question that requires a non-sequential order.
This list below details every section in a creative writing piece and should look something like this:
- An engaging opening
- A complication
- The development
- The turning point
- A resolution or convincing close
With this structure it is important to bear in mind that for the GCSE reading and creative writing exam , children will be expected to spend about 50 minutes on the creative writing section, so it’s vital to get them into the habit of planning their writing first; as with anything, practice makes perfect
We will dive deeper into the creative writing structure further on in this post, but first, let us go through the importance of paragraphing, and how TipTop paragraphs can help to improve children’s writing.
Paragraphing and TipTop Paragraphs
Before children begin to plan out the structure of their stories, it’s essential that they know the importance of paragraphing correctly first.
At this stage of learning, your child should be comfortable in knowing what a paragraph is, and understand that they help with the layout of their stories throughout the whole writing process.
Paragraphs essentially help to organise ideas into dedicated sections of writing based on your child’s ideas. For example having a paragraph for an introduction, then another paragraph introducing the main character. This means your child’s writing will be in a logical order, and will direct the reader further on into the writing.
To avoid your child straying from their creative writing structure and overloading paragraphs with too much information, there is a simple way to remind them of when they need to start a new paragraph.
Using the TipTop acronym is such an easy way for you to encourage your child to think about when they need to change paragraphs, as it stands for:
When moving to a different time or location, bringing in a new idea or character, or even introducing a piece of action or dialogue, your child’s writing should be moving on to new paragraphs.
During creative writing practice, your child can ask themselves a series of questions to work out whether they need to move onto a new paragraph to keep their story flowing and reach that top band of criteria.
- Is the story going into a new day or time period?
- Is the location staying the same or am I moving on?
- Am I bringing in a new idea that I haven’t described yet?
- Am I going to bring in a new character?
By providing opportunities to practise creative writing, this will help your child to get into the habit of asking themselves these questions as they write, meaning they will stick to the plan they have created beforehand.
Now it’s time to get into the all-important creative writing structure.
Creative Writing Structure
Producing a creative writing structure should be a simple and straightforward process for your child, as it just involves organising the different sections of their writing into a logical order.
First we need to start at the beginning, by creating an engaging opening for any piece of writing that will grab the reader’s attention.
This leads us nicely onto step 1…
1. Creating an Engaging Opening
There are several ways to engage the reader in the opening of a story, but there needs to be a specific hook within the first paragraph to ensure the reader continues on.
This hook could be the introduction of a word that the reader isn’t familiar with, or an imaginary setting that they don’t recognise at all, leaving them questioning ‘what does this all mean?’
It may be that your child opens their story by introducing a character with a description of their appearance, using a piece of dialogue to create a sense of mystery, or simply describing the surroundings to set the tone. This ‘hook’ is crucial as it sets the pace for the rest of the writing and if done properly, will make the reader feel invested in the story.
Additionally, it’s important to include a piece of information or specific object within the opening of the creative writing, as this provides something to link back to at the end, tying the whole storyline together neatly.
Engaging Opening Examples:
- Opening with dialogue – “I wouldn’t tell them, I couldn’t”
- Opening with a question – “Surely they hadn’t witnessed what I had?”
- Opening with mystery/ or a lack of important information – “The mist touched the top of the mountains like a gentle kiss, as Penelope Walker stared out from behind the cold, rigid bars that separated her from the world.”
Providing a complication gets the storyline rolling after introducing a bit of mystery and suspense in the opening.
Treat this complication like a snowball that starts small, but gradually grows into something bigger and bigger as the storyline unfolds.
This complication could be that a secret has been told, and now the main character needs to try and stop it from spreading. Alternatively, you could introduce a love interest who catches the attention of your main character.
In this section, there should be a hint towards a future challenge or a problem to overcome (which will be fleshed out in the development and climax sections) to make the reader slightly aware of what’s to come.
- Hint to future challenge – “I knew what was coming next, I knew I shouldn’t have told him, now my secret is going to spread like wildfire.”
- Including information to help understand the opening – “Bainbridge Prison was where Penelope had spent the last 2 years, stuffed into a cell the size of a shoebox, waiting for August the 14th to arrive.”
The development leads on from the last section well, as it adds a little bit more information onto the complication that has just been introduced.
This section is when your child should start to think about the slow build-up to the climax of the writing piece. For example, the secret that was passed on in the compilation stage, has now been passed to more than just one person, making it more difficult to contain.
This is where your child should really focus on creating suspense in their creative writing and build up the tension to keep the reader’s interest as they move closer to the climax section of the storyline.
- Build-up to the challenge/ climax – “I saw him whispering in class today, my lip trembled but I had to force back my tears. What if he was telling them my secret? The secret no-one was meant to know.”
- Focusing on suspense – “4 more days to go. 4 more days until her life changed forever, and she didn’t know yet if it was for better or for worse.”
The climax is the section that the whole story should be built around.
Before creating a structure like this one, your child should have an idea in mind that the story will be based on, which is usually some sort of shocking, emotion-provoking event.
This may be love, loss, battle, death, mystery, crime or several other events that the story can be built up to, but this needs to be the pivotal point and the most exciting part of the story so far.
Your child may choose to have something go drastically wrong for their main character, but they equally need to come up with a way of working this problem into their turning point and resolution sections, so the story can be resolved and come to a close.
- Shocking event: “He stood up and spoke the words I never want to hear aloud. ‘I saw her standing there over the computer and pressing send, she must have done it.’”
- Emotion-provoking event: “The prisoners cheered as Penelope strutted past each cell waving goodbye, but suddenly she felt herself being pulled back into her cell. All she could see were the prison bars once again.”
5. Turning Point or Exposition
Now that the climax is over and the problem or shocking event has been revealed to the reader, this section becomes the turning point of the story, and is essential in keeping the reader’s interest until the very end.
If something has gone wrong (which it usually does within the climax), this is the time to begin resolving it, and keep in mind this does not always have to result in a happy ending.
It’s important to remember that turning points can equally come at other points during the creative writing piece, as it signifies a moment of major narrative shift.
So, even in shorter creative writing pieces, turning points can be included earlier on to keep the reader engaged.
The whole premise of creative writing is for your child to create a story on their own terms, so their idea of an effective turning point may be different to yours.
However, it’s important not to lose the suspense in this section, as although the climax is over, it can be easy to give away the ending too soon.
Turning Point Example:
- Turning point: “Little did they know, I was stopping that file from being sent around the whole school. I wasn’t the one to send it, and I had to make sure they knew that.”
- Turning point: “She forced herself through the window, leaving the prison behind her for good this time, or so she thought.”
6. A Resolution or Convincing Close
The resolution should highlight the change in the story, so the tone must be slightly different.
At this stage, the problem is resolved (happily or unhappily) and lessons are learnt. It’s important this bittersweetness is highlighted in the close of the story.
It is also essential that the resolution or end of the story isn’t rushed, as it needs to be believable for the reader right until the very end. The story should be rounded off in a way that allows the reader to feel exactly how the protagonist is feeling, as this creates emotion and allows your reader to feel fully involved and remain interested.
Remember the piece of information or specific object that was included in the story’s opening?
Well this is the time to bring that back, and tie all of those loose ends together. You want to leave the reader with something to think about, and perhaps even asking questions as this shows they have really invested in the story..
- Happy resolution: “He came up to me and curled his hand around mine, and whispered an apology. He knew it wasn’t me, and all I felt was relief. Looks like I should have told them right from the start”
- Unhappy resolution: “All she felt was separation, as she felt those cold, rigid prison bars on her face once more.”
How to Structure Your Creative Writing for GCSE (with Creative Writing Examples!)
In order to better prepare your children for creative writing in their GCSE years, providing allocated time to practise is essential.
Planning out a structure for any piece of creative writing helps to ensure children know exactly how their piece will flow, and how they can manage their time within the reading and writing GCSE exam.
This creative writing structure can be used for the various creative writing questions that may come up on the exam, from short stories, to describing an event or a story behind an image.
Each creative writing piece should be focused around the climactic event, which is built up to in the beginning and resolved in the end.
When it comes to preparing for their GSCEs, having a tutor can be a huge advantage as it allows children to focus more on specific areas.
At Redbridge Tuition , our tutors are experienced in learning from KS2 to GCSE, and we can provide the resources your child needs to flourish.
Get in touch to find out how our tutors could help .
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Creative writing picture prompts
A checklist of techniques which create effective descriptive writing, followed by a series of eight images for students to use as inspiration for a creative writing task.
Designed for the AQA English Language GCSE, these photographs are ideal for practising writing in response to a picture prompt.
The images include:
- a Ferris wheel
- a fairground
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gcse descriptive writing picture response and prompts
Age range: 14-16
Resource type: Worksheet/Activity
30 October 2019
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Suitable for image based inspired by this picture write … type AQA GCSE task ( 2019) syllabus . Colourful interesting images with vocabulary to use in the task.
Creative Commons "Sharealike"
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