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St Anselm's - Creative Writing Tips and Example Questions

Many people assume Creative Writing papers don't require much skill - at A Level, quite a few students take subjects like Creative Writing because they assume they don't have to put any effort in to get a good grade, but these assumptions are false. Having a good imagination certainly helps, but a great answer to a CREW paper has been delicately crafted with a combination of appropriate (audience-targeted) language, descriptive techniques, sentence and paragraph structure, punctuation and careful, purposeful editing.

Of course, 11+ Creative Writing papers aren't quite as technical as those you might see at A Level or beyond, but they all require the same basic skills. As with all literacy-based learning, reading is a great way to expand your language skills and understand writing styles when it comes to the tone you are trying to achieve or the audience you are trying to reach. In this case, exposing your child to other forms of literature aside from fiction is extremely helpful. Examples include formal and informal letters, short stories, articles for magazines and newspapers, non-fiction books, play scripts and poetry.

CREW Tips:

1) Don't Overuse Simile and Metaphor

Whilst these two literary tools can add some flavour to a written piece, they often get overused in place of less obvious devices such as juxtaposition, rule of three, onomatopoeia or simply using a strong verb over an adverb. Cut down on these two so your writing doesn't become saturated with similes and metaphors that don't always show off your originality.

2) Punctuation and Syntax ALSO MATTER!

A well-placed semi-colon, line break and paragraph can dramatically shift the pace and tone of a piece. These elements are a deal-breaker when it comes to poetry, as the cadence and fluency of the poem is completely determined by punctuation and verse structure. Puttingyourwordsveryclosetogether makes it appear like the narrator is speaking very quicky, whilst s p a c i n g e a c h i n d i v i d u a l l e t t e r has the opposite effect. Putting. A. Full stop. After. Every. Word. will make your sentence appear thoughtful and breathy, and one word on its-


makes it stand out above all the rest and stick in the reader's mind.

3) Cut the Meat from the Fat, the Wheat from the Chaff

Especially when we panic during an exam, we often tend to use flowery language and chock our sentences full of filler words to bulk it out - this is the last thing you want to do in a Creative Writing paper. You wont score points on knowledge like a Maths or regular English exam as you are being examined on your creativity and comprehensive skills, so every word is meaningful. This is why, after writing your piece, you should read it over several times and look for words or sentences you can cross out altogether. Remove 'howevers' and 'consequentlys' and 'on the other hands' where you can, and replace weaker adjectives and adverbs with stronger imagery and verbs that convey the picture you are trying to paint in fewer words.

Example Prompts (taken from an 11+ website):

Download DOC • 30KB

Download DOC • 30KB

Download DOC • 30KB

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