For a lot of students, this is the fun part of the exam and where you can get creative. But that doesn’t mean you don’t need to study for it! It just means you need to prepare rather than revise.
There are lots of tricks you can learn to help bring out your creativity, and that doesn’t mean being spontaneous. In fact, the first rule for this question is not to create new ideas in the exam.
Instead, give yourself a head start by having a bank of ideas ready to go into the exam with. So when you’re preparing for this section, develop ideas for:
In order to get those objects, we need to generate some ideas.
So start with a central image – a suitcase always works well – they’re very versatile and fit into most settings, and operate as a good springboard for your story. If the question is for you to write a story set on a train, you can zoom in on your suitcase – let’s say, your old, battered-looking, well-travelled suitcase – and start your story there.
Perhaps this case has been left by somebody? What’s in it? A bomb? Some old books, clothes, gold?
Equally, of course, that object could be a brown paper bag or an umbrella, a dirty wine glass or some spectacles, a torn up photo or a child’s toy.
You can use one or more of these objects in your scene to add that important detail, or to inspire an entire narrative.
Now get a loose idea of some people to bring into your story – we can think about their personality traits later on:
For example, my characters are:
An old woman
A young boy
A busy woman
An old man
A trendy dad
You should only need to focus on one or two or your characters in the exam, but like your objects – and everything you need to study for in fact – it’s good to be prepared with a few extra.
Now if you’re struggling to come up with your own ideas, just head to Google Images and search for, say, an old man – pick one you like and give him a name.
- You can also get inspiration when you’re in a café, on a train journey or from social media.
- You could base a character loosely on somebody you know.
- Wherever you are, look around you for inspiration.
Now you can start putting your people and objects together. For example:
“An old man sat by the window wiping his glasses.”
“The young boy was falling asleep and slowly losing his grip on his teddy’s paws.”
“The woman stopped typing then looked out the window and smiled. The boy noticed and gently kicked her chair so she’d smile at him, too.”
We’re now part way there to developing a story. So if the question asks you to write a story about a character who is new to the area, think about which of your characters would best fit the scene, then decide what objects they have on them when you first introduce them to the reader.