Griffin Teaching

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.

Preparing for the GCSE writing task? You don’t need to do it alone.

We run a weekly online writing club which prepares students to write high-scoring content. Our “Higher” level club is designed to transform your writing so that you can ace the GCSE language paper.

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.

9.         Revise

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:

Handwriting and creative writing sample from a GCSE level student - before online writing lessons

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:

Handwriting and creative writing sample from a GCSE level student -after 2 months of weekly online writing lessons with Griffin Teaching

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 )

Image of a man with a beard, example image to use as a GCSE creative writing prompt

  • 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 )

image of a market scene to use as a creative writing prompt

  • 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 )

image of a round entrance to a spooky scene to use as a gcse creative writing prompt

  • 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 )

two images to choose to use as a story starter for a gcse creative writing prompt that begins with "I did not have time for this"

  • 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 )

two images to use for GCSE creative writing practice. Image 1 is of a woman on top of a mountain at sunset, the second image is of a harbour at sunset with a bridge in the field of view

  • 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 )

Two images to use as GCSE writing prompts. Students are asked to choose one and start their story with the words "I decided to get on with it"

  • 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 )

Two images to use as GCSE writing prompts. The first shows two children sitting at a table lit by candles, the second is of a city scene with half of the buildings lit up and the other half shrouded in darkness

  • 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 )

two example images students can use while revising for the GCSE wri5ting task. Both are on the theme of reading.

  • 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 )

Two images from past GCSE papers to use as a prompt for creative writing.

  • 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 )

Two images of presents that students can use to start a story with "it was an unusual gift."

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 )

Picture of a family waiting at an airport.

  • 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 )

picture of two elderly men playing soccer

  • 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)

picture of a two people mountain climbing

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.

creative writing titles gcse

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AQA GCSE titles for creative writing

AQA GCSE titles for creative writing

Subject: English

Age range: 14-16

Resource type: Assessment and revision

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Last updated

21 March 2018

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creative writing titles gcse

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GCSE English language: 10+ tips for creative writing

creative writing titles gcse

On paper creative writing should be one of the easiest parts of the English language GCSE but you're not alone if you're finding it tricky.

Creative Writing in GCSE exams can take various forms: You may have to tell an entire short story or you could be asked to write a description of a picture.

Here's some top tips when it comes to dealing with your creative writing headaches...

Understanding the Exam Format

First and foremost, it's essential to familiarise yourself with the GCSE English Language exam format. Creative writing usually forms a significant part of the assessment, often as part of a coursework component or in a specific section of the exam. Knowing what is expected in terms of length, format, and content can significantly boost your confidence and performance.

Reading Widely

One of the best ways to enhance your creative writing skills is to read a diverse range of literature. This exposure helps you understand different writing styles, narrative techniques, and genres. By reading extensively, you can develop a sense of what makes a story engaging and learn how to incorporate these elements into your own writing.

Practising Writing Regularly

Consistent practice is key in improving your writing skills. Try to write something every day, whether it's a short story, a descriptive piece, or even just a diary entry. This not only helps improve your writing style and vocabulary but also keeps your creative juices flowing.

Answer The Question

Read it VERY carefully because your answer will only be marked in the context of what was actually asked in the first place, regardless of how well written your piece may have been. Pay special attention to the type of creative writing you're asked to come up with and it's audience (see more below).

Developing Strong Characters and Settings

In creative writing, characters and settings are the heart of your story. Spend time developing characters who are believable and relatable. Similarly, create settings that are vivid and contribute to the mood of the story. Using descriptive language and sensory details can bring your characters and settings to life.

READ MORE: > 10+ GCSE creative writing ideas, prompts and plot lines

Mastering Narrative Structure

A good story has a clear structure - a beginning, middle, and end. The beginning should hook the reader, the middle should build the story, and the end should provide a satisfying conclusion. Think about the plot and how you can weave tension, conflict, and resolution into your narrative.

Showing, Not Telling

'Show, don’t tell' is a golden rule in creative writing. Instead of simply telling the reader what is happening, show them through actions, thoughts, senses, and feelings. For example, rather than simply telling the reader a character is tall, show them that in your writing: "He towered above me like a skyscraper." This approach makes your writing more engaging and immersive.

Take Inspiration From Real Life

Write more convincingly by taking inspiration from your real life experiences and feelings, embellishing where necessary.

Go Out of This World

If you're given a prompt to write the opening of a story involving a storm, it doesn't need to be a storm on earth. Going out of this world allows you to be really descriptive in your language and paint a picture of a completely unique world or species.

Varying Sentence Structure and Vocabulary

Using a range of sentence structures and a rich vocabulary can make your writing more interesting and dynamic. Avoid repetition of words and phrases, and try to use descriptive language that paints a picture for the reader. Consider the senses such as what you might hear, smell, feel or taste.

Don't Leave The Ending To The, Well, End

Some pieces will lend themselves to a nice, easy ending - and in some questions, the ending may even be provided for you - but other times it's not so simple to stop. When it comes to fictional stories, it may well be easier to plan your ending first and work backwards, you don't want to end on a whimper, in a rush or with leftover loose ends from the plot.

Editing and Proofreading

A vital part of writing is reviewing and refining your work. Always leave time to edit and proofread your writing. Look out for common errors like spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, and punctuation issues. Also, consider whether your writing flows logically and whether there's anything you can improve in terms of language and style.

Seeking Feedback

Don’t be afraid to ask teachers, friends, or family members for feedback on your writing. Constructive criticism can provide new perspectives and ideas that can help you improve your writing significantly.

Staying Calm and Confident

Lastly, it's important to stay calm and confident during your exam. Stress and anxiety can hinder your creativity and writing ability. Practice relaxation techniques and believe in your preparation to help you stay focused and composed during the exam.

Remember, creative writing is an opportunity to express yourself and let your imagination run wild. With these tips and consistent practice, you can excel in your GCSE English Language creative writing exam look forward to results day and enjoy the process of crafting your own unique stories.

Thomas Brella is the founder of Student Hacks, starting the website in 2013 while studying at the University of Brighton to share tips and tricks on life as a cash-strapped student. He's now spent over 10 years scoping out the best ways to live on a budget

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Creative Writing Tips

Here are our top tips for acing any creative writing exam! 



One of our top tips for any creative writing exam, is to have a bank of easily adapted plot ideas up your sleeve. Time is precious in an exam and you need to spend minimal time thinking, leaving you with the maximum amount of time to crack on with your writing!

creative writing titles gcse


Don’t make your plot too complicated- only one thing needs to happen- just DESCRIBE ONE TEN MINUTE MOMENT. If your story was turned into a film, it would be a 10 minute scene, not a 2 hour film! Keep it simple! 

creative writing titles gcse


This point carries on from point 2. When you have a complicated plot then you end up explaining and summarising. What any teacher or examiner wants to see in a story is description. One moment described very slowly, in lots of detail.   


'Magpieing' is a phrase that teachers use to describe using other people's ideas for story writing. Authors do it all the time! Nothing needs to be original! If you hear a great phrase in a book that you are reading, use it in a story! 


'Show don't tell' is  phrase that teachers use all the time, when teaching creative writing. It means, don't TELL me that the character is nervous; SHOW me that they are nervous by describing their sweaty palms and butterflies flutterin g in their tummy. 


If you write a simple sentence such as, 'The man walked down the road', you will conjure up different images in different reader's minds! Is it a tall man or a short man? Is he walking angrily or happily? Add description to paint the same picture in the reader's mind, as you have in your own! 


The difference between an ok story and a great story, usually comes down to verb choices. Every sentence must contain a verb, so why not use powerful verb choices! For example, 'said' is a boring verb. Swap it for a verb such as 'mumbled' or 'screeched' to add more description! 


Personification is a writing technique, where an object is described like a person. The effect is that it tells you the mood of the story- how the characters are feeling. In  a happy story, the sun might be smiling but if the mood of the story is angry, the sun might be scowling! 


Similes and metaphors are both types of comparisons. We use these comparisons to exaggerate a quality. Similes use the word LIKE or AS- ' He ran as fast as a racing car' or 'He zoomed like a racing car'. A metaphor does not contain like or as- 'He was a racing car zooming.' 


 Alliteration is when words near or next to each other start with the same sound. An alliterative phrase like, 'flickering, firey flames' is effective because the repetition of the F sound emphasises the sound of the fire. This is a great way to add marks in an exam!

creative writing titles gcse


 We always want to describe using our senses, and onomatopoeic words describe sounds. Using sounds as verbs in a sentence, for example, BANGING, CRASHED, RUSTLING, SCREECHED, is a great way to add extra marks in a creative writing exam. 


Avoid repetition! Make sure that you vary the first word in every sentence- sometimes start with a verb, sometimes start with a preposition, sometimes sart with an adverb... Do NOT always start with He/ She/ The! Also,  vary your sentence length- some short, some medium, some long. 


Think carefully about the first sentence in your story, and more importantly the first WORD! Do not start with ‘Once upon a time’ or ‘One day’.  Starting with a subordinating conjunction like ‘As’ or ‘While’, is a great way to open a story as you are instantly giving the reader additional information to paint a picture of the scene in their minds.


Use prepositions in your sto ry- particularly at the start of sentences. Prepositions are words that tell us WHEN or WHERE. Prepositions that show where, are particularly good when describing a setting. It allows you to be precise and to paint a picture in the reader's mind. 


Do not overuse direct speech- it tends to explain rather than describe. Direct speech can be a great way to start a story and it is effective in establishing relationships between the characters- but use it no more than twice. You will get a mark for correct punctuation but don’t waste dozens of lines on one mark!


Use the acronym MAPSO as a checklist to ensure that you have used a variety of techniques in your story. There are lots of acronyms out there, but I like MAPSO the best- it’s short, easy to remember and covers the 5 most important techniques- Metaphor, Alliteration, Personification, Simile, Onomatopoeia.


Avoid using these phrases in a story- they FELT, they THOUGHT, they WONDERED, they REALISED, they DECIDED… all of these phrases TELL the reader and what we want to do is SHOW. The reader is able to work out for themselves what the character is thinking and feeling from the description of their ACTIONS.


By the end of the first paragraph, make sure that the reader has an idea of WHO your character is, WHERE they are, WHEN it is (time of day/ season), WHAT they are doing when the story begins, HOW they are doing it (the mood) and WHY (it does not matter what order you put this information in). 


The key thing is to keep your plan short- spend no more than 2 minutes- it doesn’t matter if your plan is messy and you shouldn’t write in full sentences. A five part plan is ideal (just a few words for each section) as 5 paragraphs is about the right length for a story written in a half hour exam.


Always  leave yourself a few minutes at the end of the exam to check for silly mistakes!

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Creative Writing: How to Sculpt My Narrative Vision?

Creative writing traditionally stands in opposition to technical writing, so named because it is used to differentiate imaginative and particularly original types of writing from more rigid types. However, creative writing is just as technical, and difficult, as these other types. The assumption is often made that creative writing is a talent – “can I really learn how to write creatively?” – but the true keys to creative writing, whether writing for your own enjoyment, preparing for a school or GCSE exam, are imagination, content, and organisation .

Creative Writing GCSE

What do these three things mean?

Imagination – the GCSE prompts are usually very open-ended and broad, remind yourself that broad questions are not restrictive, and allow your mind to explore all caveats of the question, and take the reader on a truly original journey

Content – to showcase your ideas you need to be able to show your skill with tone, style, and vocabulary; we will touch on just how to do this later!

Organisation – planning the structure of your answer is key, even though creative writing can be seen as ‘looser’, remember that a good structure is a good way to ensure you are staying in control of the piece. We will touch on how to plan effectively later too!

Focussing on the ‘how’ and developing it:

It can be very daunting when you are presented with a vague prompt to think about how you might achieve all of these things, now we know what they mean let’s look at how we might break them down with an example.

Take the prompt: ‘ Think about a time you were afraid ’.

1) Imagination – where are you going with this? The prompt allows a lot of scope for you as a writer to take this piece wherever you want. You want to plan a piece you are excited by, that you are confident writing, and that is a little bit ‘outside the box’.

We can anticipate many students’ answers describing a spooky forest or a secluded house at night-time; if you are pushing for the higher boundaries, you want to write something that will make the examiner notice you.

Think about the last time you were afraid – how likely is it that you found yourself in a horror-film-esque eerie setting? Perhaps you want to describe the time you auditioned for the school talent show, or your first trip into the dentist alone. You don’t have to be totally avant-garde but remember a skilled writer can create a sense of unease using literary technique alone – don’t rely on a traditional ‘spooky setting’.

2) Content – how are you going to take us there? You want to ensure your communication is convincing and compelling. This means your need to maintain style and tone throughout.

Make a decision about the characteristics of who is narrating your story early on and stick with it (it will often be directed at you, but the examiner doesn’t know you as a person – be creative! If it suits your story to make yourself smarter, more anxious, quieter etc, then do it). Let’s look back to our prompt above. Perhaps you make the decision that you’re writing the piece as you, and you’re incredibly forgetful. This might mean you ask short questions throughout the piece, raising the tension. Maybe you feign confidence and so while the speech of the piece seems assured and at ease, the internal monologue is vastly different, throwing a sense of unease to the narrative early on.

Be ambitious with your vocabulary! Vocabulary is a great way to help set the tone of a piece. Likewise, explore a wide use of linguistic devices (metaphor, simile, imagery, personification, repetition, symbolism – we will come back to these later!)

3) Organisation – how can you plan effectively? When writing a creative piece, first and foremost, you want to ensure you have a varied use of structural features within your paragraphs.

As a rule of thumb, each new paragraph should aim to develop the story and either bring a new idea into the story or develop a previous one. Within each paragraph, aim to show the examiner that you are capable of developing your idea (i.e. continuing the narrative and plot), but also that you are able to detail this from a different perspective.

An effective way to do this is with a structural feature: pick an interesting way to start a new paragraph, focus on contrast, play around with repetition (if you can, play around with the pace of the writing too – see below!), withhold information, use dialogue, experiment with different sentence structures and paragraph lengths, etc.

Some specifics on: ‘linguistic devices’ and ‘structural features’

Linguistic devices and structural features, when used well, can help to make your writing incredibly compelling. Let’s look at some specifics on how we can play around with these and incorporate them into our writing.

1) Linguistic devices

Metaphor and simile – metaphors and similes are both ways to introduce comparisons into your work, which is a good way to bring some variety when describing something instead of just listing off more adjectives. Similes are used specifically with the words ‘like’ or ‘as’ (“life is like a box of chocolates”); metaphors are a direct statement of comparison (“life is a rollercoaster”).

o   How can you use these originally? When using these, we want to showcase not just our ability to use them, but also our imagination and vocabulary. With both of these, think of appropriate comparisons which develop the tone of your piece. For example, if you are writing a piece about happiness – ‘his smile was like that of a child at Christmas time’ (simile), or, if you are writing a piece about loneliness – ‘loneliness was a poison’ (metaphor). See how both comparisons match the tone – when writing a happy piece, we use specific things about happiness (e.g. Christmas), when writing a sadder piece, we use sadder objects for comparison (e.g. poison). This will help develop tone and showcase originality.

Imagery – this is used to develop key motifs within the mind of the reader; again, this is a tool for comparison whereby we are comparing something real with something imagined or ultimately non-literal.

o   A good way to think of imagery is to appeal to the reader’s senses: how can you create a sensory world for them? Take the brief above once more. We could say “I was afraid when I left the house”, or, we could appeal to sensory imagery: “I pulled my auburn hair into my mouth to chew it as I closed the door to the house. Thud. The air was cold on my cheeks, and my pink nose stood out against the grey sky and grey pavement.” Here, we paint a far richer picture, even though we don’t necessarily develop the story.

Personification - when a personal nature is given to a non-human object. This can be useful when you are faced with long descriptive paragraphs as it serves as another way to break up boring adjective listing.

o   Be imaginative and try and include this once in every piece if you can. Remember to tie it in with developing the tone of the piece! I.e. if you are writing a happy piece: “the sun smiled down on me, and I beamed back with gratitude” – this sentence creates an immediately positive atmosphere. However, the sentence: “the wind whispered quietly through the long grass” creates a sense of uncertainty. NB: notice how the weather is an easy and subtle way to help develop a ‘feeling’ throughout your writing.

Repetition – a word or phrase is repeated in order to achieve a certain desired effect. We can use different types of repetition to remain original and keep our writing sophisticated:

o   Try repeating only the last few words of a line – “If you don’t doubt yourself, and you can keep a clear head, then you can do it. You can do it.”

o   Try repeating the same phrase at the end of following sentences – “On the fields there was blood, in the sea there was blood, on the sand banks there was blood, on the ships there was blood…”

o   Try repeating the same words in a new sense to reveal information in a new light – “I don’t dance because I am happy, I am happy because I dance”

creative writing titles gcse

2) Structural features

Openings – you want to make sure the start of your text entices the reader, so you may want to start with a very developed complex sentence, with heaps of sensory imagery that immediately immerses the reader in the world of the piece; alternatively, or you may wish to grab their attention in a more direct way – “Bang! Oh god, how was I going to get out of this?”

Contrast – highlighting the difference between two things is a compelling way to describe and develop ideas; we have talked in depth about ways to do this above (simile, metaphor, imagery, sometimes repetition for effect)

Pace – experimenting with the pace of the piece is a very sophisticated way to create a mood. For example, if it is a summer’s day and time does not seem to pass, find a way to highlight this using some of the techniques outlined above – “the sun sat high in the sky, unwavering, for what seemed like forever”, “the sounds of the crickets chirping and the birds merriment overpowered the sound of my watch – we felt truly timeless”. Equally, if you want to build tension, find a way to increase the pace; generally, this can be done by piecing together short, simple sentences: “I knew I had to move fast. Round the door. Up the stairs. Wait. Breathe. Move. Up the next flight. Clear. Move.” Etc, this helps immerse the reader in the mental world of the narrator and as a result they engage far more with the piece.

Dialogue – inserting dialogue into a piece can be a convincing way to introduce new information to a text, think of ways to be inventive with this: does our narrator talk to themselves? What information are we told about additional characters that are introduced? What new approaches have we learned to aid with describing these new characters – and remember – always choose these in line with developing a tone for the piece.

Withholding information – this can be a useful way to build a sense of uncertainty and unease into a piece. Perhaps the narrator is withholding information from other characters, perhaps the narrator is withholding information from the readers themselves! “I knew it had to be done. I didn’t have time to consider the what-if’s and the maybes of it. It had to be done. And it had to be done now.” How much more unsettling is that sentence when we don’t discover what the ‘it’ is – if we want to create humour for a light-hearted piece, perhaps it is getting a tooth removed; if the piece is darker, perhaps the ‘it’ is something far more sinister…

Sentence length – Play around with a variation of simple and complex sentences. Complex sentences can be difficult to construct at first. Remember a few key rules: they are either used effectively to develop one key motif: ‘the snow was white and fell down like tiny elegant dancers in the wind, until at just a moment’s notice, it would land and join a far larger flurry of white across a thousand snow-drenched fields’. Additionally, complex sentences can be used to introduce a lot of new information in one succinct way: ‘It was autumn when he last came, not that I had been counting, but when he last came my hair came only to my shoulders, and I was not yet tall enough to reach the apples on the tree – gosh, what would he think of me now’. The difference between the two is clear, one develops a singular motif and one introduces new ideas quickly – both are effective, and you should aim to be able to write both types well.

While creative writing can seem daunting at first, using the three keys to success (imagination, content and organisation) alongside these advanced linguistic devices and structural features is a great way to develop and succeed in the creative writing exam. Start to enjoy taking the reader on a journey, learn to navigate the realms of description, experiment with tone and you will be well on your way to success! 

“Write it like it matters, and it will.” – Libba Bray

By U2 mentor, Hazel (Philosophy & Theology, University of Oxford and a published poet!)

Looking for a Creative Writing tutor to develop written skills?

If you are interested in support for your GCSE English Language or Literature papers, or general Creative Writing endeavours, why not check out our offerings on the GCSE page and book a free consultation to discuss how we can boost your chance of success. We have a large team of predominantly Oxbridge-educated English mentors who are well-placed to develop students’ written skills, teaching how to structure writing, and the literary and rhetorical techniques that this requires.

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How to write a formal letter (11+ to gcse).

creative writing titles gcse

Paper 1: Creative Writing

In the exam you're normally given two options: a descriptive piece or a narrative piece. neither is worth more or less than the other so it's up to you to choose which suits you best. though describing the same thing for 45 minutes can see a little tough, i'd argue that the description is actually easier than the narrative. the problem with writing a short narrative, is its shortness., to do this well you need to make sure that your plot is very, very , very , very simple . you'll only have 45 minutes to write it, and that doesn't leave a lot of space for character development or events., really, you should be able to tell your storyline in one sentence, any more than that and it's probably too complex for the exam., i've included some of my own below to give you an idea of how much plot i've managed to include....

creative writing titles gcse

The Simple Scene

creative writing titles gcse


creative writing titles gcse

An Unreliable Narrator

creative writing titles gcse

Using Description

Read over the stories above and pick one structure that you think you could use. then, google some images and see if you can find a way for your chosen structure to become a story connected to that image. the key with a structure is that you can practice with it, but it will still fit any end you choose., but also, there are literally millions of short stories on the web, simply because writing is such a pleasure and sharing stories is so fundamentally human. to help you filter through some of them, you'll find a list of some of my favourite places below:,,,,

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How to Structure Creative Writing for GCSE (Creative Writing Examples!)

Posted on August, 2022

girl writing bed structure creative writing

Structure Creative Writing for Success

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 Should I Structure Creative Writing?

There are several types of creative writing questions that could come up on the GCSE reading and writing exam. There will be the option to either write creatively based on an image, or a made-up scenario.

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. It also 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. Planning gives them time to get into the habit of always providing themselves with a simple, but focused idea of what they are going to write.

Structure Creative Writing with Seven Story Archetypes


Understanding the fundamental structure of a story is crucial for crafting engaging narratives. Beyond basic sequences, story archetypes provide a deeper framework. Christopher Booker , a renowned scholar, identified seven main story archetypes.

Each archetype outlines a distinctive journey and the challenges faced by characters.

1. Overcoming the Monster

This archetype portrays an underdog’s quest to conquer a formidable evil. Examples include the epic tales of Harry Potter battling Lord Voldemort, the classic struggle in Jurassic Park, and the timeless narrative of Jack and the Beanstalk.

2. Rags to Riches

Embarking from a starting point of poverty or despair, characters rise to newfound wealth and success. Witness this transformation in stories like Slumdog Millionaire, The Pursuit of Happyness, and The Wolf of Wall Street.

3. The Quest

A hero’s journey to discover something, overcoming trials and tribulations along the way. Iconic examples include the Fellowship of the Ring’s quest in The Lord of the Rings, Marlin’s journey to find Nemo, and the epic adventures of Odysseus in The Odyssey.

4. Voyage and Return

Protagonists venture into unknown territories, facing adversity before returning home transformed. Dive into this archetype with examples like the curious escapades in Spirited Away, Bilbo Baggins’ journey in The Hobbit, and the enchanting Chronicles of Narnia.

Contrary to our typical perception of humour, this archetype involves destined lovers kept apart by conflicting forces. Delight in the comedic twists of relationships in classics such as 10 Things I Hate About You, When Harry Met Sally, and Notting Hill.

Protagonists with major flaws or errors leading to their inevitable downfall. Witness the unraveling of characters in tragedies like The Great Gatsby, Requiem for a Dream, and the Shakespearean masterpiece Othello.

Characters succumb to darkness but redeem themselves throughout the narrative. Experience the transformative journeys in stories like Atonement, American History X, and the animated Beauty and the Beast.

Application Across Mediums

Beyond literature, these archetypes seamlessly apply to filmmaking and photography. A well-crafted photograph or film can mirror the same narrative arcs, captivating viewers on a visual adventure akin to storytelling. Explore these archetypes to infuse depth and resonance into your creative endeavors.

Paragraphing for a Solid Creative Writing Structure

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. Then, you must map 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.

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What does a Solid Creative Writing Structure look like?

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 AQA GCSE English Language paper 1 reading and creative writing exam.

You can also use Freitag’s pyramid or a story mountain to help you understand the basic structure of a story:

Children will be expected to spend about 50 minutes on the creative writing section. It’s therefore vital to get them into the habit of planning their writing first. As with anything, practice makes perfect.

If you want to find out more about GCSE English Language papers 1 and 2, check out our blog .

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.

Be as creative as Kevin’s booby traps from “ Home Alone “.

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.

TiPToP for a Clearer Creative Writing Structure

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.

For example:

  • 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?

Providing opportunities to practise creative writing 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.

Structure Creative Writing: A Step-by-Step Guide

Producing a creative writing structure should be a simple 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. You might also be interested to check out this blog on story structure that I found in my research.

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.

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.

Read more about hooks in essays .

If your child needs to work more on description, I definitely recommend utilising the Descriptosaurus :

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.”

2. Complication

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 that 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.

Complication Example:

  • 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.”

3. Development

The development seamlessly extends from the previous section, providing additional information on the introduced complication.

During this phase, your child should consider the gradual build-up to the writing piece’s climax. For instance, a secret shared in the compilation stage now spreads beyond one person, heightening the challenge of containment.

Here, your child should concentrate on instilling suspense and escalating tension in their creative writing, engaging the reader as they approach the climax.

Development Example:

  • 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. Usually this is some sort of shocking, emotion-provoking event.

This may be love, loss, battle, death, a mystery, a crime, or several other events.  The climax needs to be the pivotal point; the most exciting part of the story.

Your child may choose to have something go drastically wrong for their main character. They must regardless, need to come up with a way of working this problem into their turning point and resolution. The should think carefully about this will allow the story to be resolved and come to a close.

Climax Example:

  • 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

After the climax, the story’s turning point emerges, crucial for maintaining reader interest.

During this post-climax phase, address and resolve issues, acknowledging that not every resolution leads to a happy ending.

Turning points need not be confined to the story’s conclusion; they can occur at various junctures, signifying significant narrative shifts.

Even in shorter pieces, introducing turning points early on can captivate the reader.

Creative writing allows for individual storytelling, and effective turning points may differ between your child and you.

Maintain suspense in this section, avoiding premature revelation of the ending despite the climax’s conclusion.

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 resolves (happily or unhappily) and the character/s learns lessons. The close of the story must highlight this.

The writer should also not rush the resolution or end of the story.

It needs to be believable for the reader right until the very end. The writer should allow us to feel what the protagonist is feeling.

This creates emotion and allows your reader to feel fully involved.

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. You can even ask questions as this shows they have invested in the story.

Resolution Example:

  • 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!)

To enhance your children’s GCSE creative writing skills, allocate time for practice.

Plan a structure for creative writing to guide children in organising their thoughts and managing time during the GCSE exam.

Apply this structure to various exam questions, such as short stories or describing events.

Focus each creative piece on a climactic event, building anticipation in the beginning and resolving it at the end.

Consider a tutor for GCSE preparation to help children focus on specific areas.

Redbridge Tuition offers experienced tutors for learning from KS2 to GCSE, providing necessary resources for your child’s success.

Get in touch to find out how our tutors could help.

Want a free consultation?

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Miss Huttlestone's GCSE English

Because a whole class of wonderful minds are better than just one!

2 Grade 9 Creative Writing Examples

I recently asked my year 11s to pen a piece of description and/or narrative writing for their mini assessment. I gave them the following prompts:

Your school wants you to contribute to a collection of creative writing.

EITHER: Write a short story as suggested by this picture:

creative writing titles gcse

OR: Write a description about a person who has made a strong impression on you.

The following were two COMPELLING and CONVINCING examples of the second choice – one pupil taking ‘you’ as a fictional invitation, the other as a biographical one:


Gradually, I awake and open my eyes only to see the cracked white ceiling which greets me every day. Here I sit, slumped in the bed with the scratchy white sheets hugging me and muffled beeping noises jumping into my ears. Rubbing the sleep crust from my bloodshot eyes, I observe the scene before me. The sound of footsteps overlapping as nurses rush from bed to bed; the metallic tang from stainless steel invading my nostrils; the cold metal bed rail imprisoning and mocking me; the pungent scent of antiseptic troubling me and the blood-curdling cries and moans utterly terrifying me. Using all my strength, I try to imagine I am somewhere else, anywhere else but here.

Crowds, signs, roars: it was 1903 and the suffragette movement had begun. It was a crisp night, refreshing almost and I had taken to the streets. It was like I was possessed by something that night, some urge and deep desire within me that had led me there, surrounded by women like myself. I stood clueless and lost in the crowd; the women yelling ‘Deeds not words’ in unison; passionately parading with large wooden signs and viciously shattering windows with bricks and stones. Despite the violence that was displayed before me, I was not afraid of what was happening and I didn’t deem it unnecessary or improper, in fact I wanted the same as these women, I wanted equality. Abruptly, all of the roars and cheers became muted and faint, one woman walked slowly towards me, her hair messily swooped into an updo, her clothes somewhat dirtied and her chocolate brown corset slightly loosened. There was a glimmer in her eyes as tears seemed to swell within their hazel pools, she seemed inspired, hopeful. After reaching me in the crowd, she held out her hand, gently passing me a sign. Immediately, I clasped it and the yelling and chanting rang loudly in my ears once more. My journey had begun.

Here however, is where it ends. I am aware I do not have much time left, as the doctors have told me so, and spending my last moments in this hospital room is not optimal. However, as I look around I can see beauty within a room which at first glance seems void of it. The hollow medical tubes by my side remind me of the awful act of force feeding I have faced in the past; the shrieks and bawls of patients reflecting the pain women had felt in my time and the bed bars mirroring the prisons we were thrown into and the gates we would chain ourselves too. I know these things may seem far from beautiful, but I can see my past within this room, the power I possessed and the changes I have contributed to today. I know now that I can leave this earth having had an impact. Slowly I close my eyes, I can see her, the women who changed my life many years ago, her name, Emmeline Pankhurst.


I will never forget that day. The hazel pools of her eyes glazed over, and hands delicately placed at her sides. Nobody in the room could quite grasp the fact that this was happening. The crowds of black attire row on row seemed to mimic the thing she loves most in life, the piano. However, this time she had taken the ivory natural keys with her and left everyone else with the sharp tones. You needed both to create beautiful symphonies but all that filled the room was the excruciating silence of her absense. Even the metronone like ticks of the clock seemed to come to a standstill.

It had all began that day, she seemed to open up this whole new world for us to explore together as she placed my fingers onto the keys for the first time. I knew that this was what I was meant to do. She was the most passionately beautiful pianist I had ever seen in my life. Often, I would peer round the oak doorway before my lessons just to catch a glimpse at her. It seemed like nothing in the world mattered to her at the time.

As the years progressed, so did the scope of this world we were exploring. Each sheet of lovingly handwritten sheet music was like a new section of the map we were slowly creating together. Each of her students had their own map. Each as beautiful and each as unique as the pianist. The crotchets and quavers that adorned the staves directed the different paths we could take as my fingers graced the keys. This may not have been a beautiful ballet routine, but this was our dance and it had been carefully choreographed just for us.

That piano room was the safest place in the world. Every inch of it her: the potent scent of her floral perfume; shelves full of scruffy and well loved sheet music; rows upon rows of framed photos of her and her students; the vintage piano which she always kept in tune, it was home. I couldn’t bear the

idea that someone else was going move in and rip away the music room without a second thought. It was her music room.

It was up to me now. Up to me to finish this journey we had begun together.

She may not be with me in person anymore, but she will always live within the world we built together and nothing could ever change that. For she could never truly be gone since she left a piece of her within every one of her students; the passion for piano.


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Secondary English teacher in Herts. View all posts by gcseenglishwithmisshuttlestone

2 thoughts on “2 Grade 9 Creative Writing Examples”

This has helped me a lot, I myself am preparing for a narrative test like this and these prompts and descriptive short stories are marvellous! Thank you for sharing this! 🙂

My pleasure!

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25 Awesome Story Ideas for Creative Writing for GCSE English Language

by melaniewp | Jun 23, 2013 | Creative Writing , English Language Exam , GCSE , IGCSE , Writing | 0 comments


creative writing titles gcse

[1] 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.

creative writing titles gcse

[3]  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…

creative writing titles gcse

[4]  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 .

creative writing titles gcse

[5]  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 .

creative writing titles gcse

[6]  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 ]

creative writing titles gcse

[7]  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’…

creative writing titles gcse

[8] 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.

creative writing titles gcse

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?

creative writing titles gcse

[9]  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.

creative writing titles gcse

[10] 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

creative writing titles gcse

[11]  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.

creative writing titles gcse

[12]  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 .

creative writing titles gcse

[13] 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.

creative writing titles gcse

[14]  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.

creative writing titles gcse

[15] 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.

creative writing titles gcse

[16]  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

creative writing titles gcse

[17]  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.

creative writing titles gcse

[18]  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.

creative writing titles gcse

[19]  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.

creative writing titles gcse

[20]  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

creative writing titles gcse

[21]  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.

creative writing titles gcse

[22]  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 .

creative writing titles gcse

[23]  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.

creative writing titles gcse

[24]  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.

creative writing titles gcse

[25]  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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This covers 11 plus descriptive, story and letter writing for all schools / levels

Creative writing, list of 11 plus creative writing topics, story titles, story template, story plan example - things to include, example of a good story, example of a bad story, example of a good letter, example of a good description, bad description, 11+ creative writing questions from real exams—non-fiction prompts, checklists for creative writing.


This article contains useful information that will help you to write good stories, description and letter in your 11 plus exam.

When it comes to developing creative writing topics and tasks, it's helpful to focus on core themes and emotions that often appear in stories. Here are some areas to consider when building your descriptions:

  • Animals - You can use literary devices like personification, exaggeration, and similes to bring your descriptions of pets or favorite animals to life, or even animals that frighten you.
  • Emotions and feelings - Many stories require descriptions of emotions like fear, joy, or the experience of being lost or alone. Titles like "My Brilliant Day" or "Lost!" and "Alone!" can provide a clear direction for your writing.
  • Enjoyable activities - Describing the activities you love, from mountaineering to gardening, is an opportunity to convey both the activity itself and the emotions it elicits.
  • The natural world - Whether it's hills, mountains, rivers, streams, or weather phenomena like lightning, rain, and sunshine, describing the natural world can add depth and richness to your writing.
  • The built environment - From houses and office blocks to cottages, castles, roads, bridges, churches, and sheds, it's useful to develop a vocabulary for describing the built environment.

Some examples of story titles are given below:

  • The Day Trip
  • The Broken Window
  • The Abandoned House
  • The Voice in the Darkness
  • Alone - Craft a story with the title "Alone," where you suddenly realize that you are on your own. Your story can be true or entirely made up. Ensure that it includes your thoughts and feelings, as well as what happened.
  • Visiting Relatives - Write a story, whether true or made up, about a visit you make to some of your relatives.
  • Cousin's Visit - Compose a letter to a cousin inviting them to stay with you. In the letter, try to interest them in some of the varied and unusual activities they can participate in.
  • Magical Moment - Describe a situation you've experienced that might be considered a "Magical Moment." Show what your thoughts and feelings were during that experience.
  • Animal Description - Provide a detailed description of an animal you know well. Be sure to include what it does, how it behaves, and what it looks like.
  • I prefer Winter to Spring
  • The door and what was behind it.
  • Ash on an old man’s sleeve.
  • The Prince of Darkness is a Gentleman.
  • Write a story that begins with the phrase – I had been waiting for such a long time for this to happen.
  • Write a description of someone you admire.  (You may choose someone you actually know, or someone you have never met.  Describe them and explain why you admire them).

It was a calm day as I ______

The sun was smiling in the ______________

I felt ______________ because ___________

After I ________, I _________

The ____ was like  a _________ because _______

There was an atmosphere of __________

Suddenly, _____________

My heart was filled with _________

Unless I ________, I would surely _________

Thankfully, ________

I managed to _______ because _______

After ________, I ______

I learned that ___________

In future I would be more careful of ________

Happily, I went off to ________


sense language



exclamation mark

check SPAG - spelling, punctuation and grammar

Write a story where a character goes into a shop and finds something unexpected

Rosie strolled happily into the pristine store; today was her birthday and her heart was bursting with expectation. It was time to receive the gift her parents had promised her: a new phone. The atmosphere in the store was bustling as the Saturday shoppers streamed in out of the sunshine.

As Rosie was browsing she noticed an odd looking man lingering near the back of the store. She didn’t pay him much attention but this discovery was soon to have devastating consequences. Rosie was gleefully talking to one of the staff members when caught a movement out of the corner of her eye….

“Everyone get down!” screamed the man, his face red with fury. “I want everyone’s phones and valuables on the floor. If you refuse you will regret it!’ Everyone scattered through the shop, tripping in panic. The man was a stealthy lion prowling among his prey. Rosie’s heart was filled with fear and horror - she would have to relinquish the phone she had just paid for. The cruelty of the situation twisted her stomach like a razor ripping into her flesh. The man had begun to grab the valuables in a dirty looking backpack and was about to confidently exit the store…..

Suddenly there was an explosion of movement outside the shop on the busy street. Fortunately, a local police car had been patrolling outside and the officers had caught a glimpse of the man’s odd behaviour. They had sprung into action! Grabbing the man boisterously, they took him to the floor and confiscated the precise valuables. Rosie breathed a sigh of relief - her phone was saved.

Eventually, order was restored as the sun smiled overhead. Shocked onlookers relayed the story to one another. Everyone graciously thanked the police for their brave intervention. Rosie now knew to expect the unexpected after her unpleasant discovery….

Write a story about a childhood experience 

The pensive sky was filled with rushing grey clouds, illuminated by the lights of the fun fair below. I stood wearily in the bitter cold, flanked by my shivering parents as we stood in the cramped queue.

Winter Wonderland was the highlight of the festive season; families and tourists flocked eagerly from all over London, sampling the seasonal delights and treats, marvelling at the whirling dervish of colours and excitement. This year, 1999, was bigger than ever – it seemed as if the fair was engulfing the whole of Hyde Park, growing onwards as if greedily consuming the whole city in celebration.

Finally, we crossed the threshold. The murmuring of the masses filled my ears like chanting. My nose was smothered with the sweet smells of candy floss and waffles. Drunken tourists stumbled blindly from bar to bar, eagerly gulping down glass after glass of beer and blood red mulled wine.

I tugged at my mother’s arm and pointed. Past the roller coasters and cafes the lake shone like an icy lance of steel, cutting cleanly through the park. Jubilant children rushed backwards and forwards, skimming over its surface like polished stones.

“Are you sure, dear?” enquired my mother. “The lake looks very cold. We wouldn’t want you to fall in or have an accident”. She frowned nervously but could see the resolute expression on my face; my mind was made up! Moments later I was in the queue, looking out over the vast tapestry of the lake, framed by trees and illuminated by the faint moon.

My breath fogged like steam around me as the lake attendant fixed my boots on. They sternly clamped my feet; all of a sudden my limbs became turgid lumps of rock, pulling me into the ground. My mother and father laughed at my fumbling.

“We’ll be watching dear. Try not to fall over!” said my father. He tried to smile but a hint of nervousness crept into his face. After all, I was being pushed out into the great unknown of the lake, with only my fellow skaters for company.

Once I was on the lake, my stiff limbs scampered with short, awkward steps. I briefly lost my balance, grasped at the empty air and then corrected myself. In a few moments I was gliding effortlessly through the darkness, faster and faster, the children around me brief shadows that flitted from side to side. As I flew through the night the chilled air stung my face but I couldn’t help grinning.

A noise distracted me. I was far from the shore now – the dark of the park and surrounding trees had swallowed me, the twinkling beacons of the fair were a distant memory. It sounded like a shout but it was muffled by the piercing wind. I could see the faint outline of two figures. Were they my mother and father? I couldn’t see in the gloom, but their faces wore an expression of panic, for the ice had begun to crack near the shore. Within a few moments all the skaters might be plunged hopelessly into the icy depths, with no hope of rescue. At this stage I knew nothing of the danger, and continued to loop and spin through the air.

It was only when I got closer to the shore that I heard another sound. This was definitely one of fear. A young blond child was crying, tears streaming down her red face. Her mother was hugging her and shouting violently at the members of staff. I now knew something was terribly wrong.

It was then that I heard the first sound, like a faint clicking or scratching. Then through the gloom, I could see a faint line growing beneath me, tracing its way between me and the shore. The ice was breaking! I had no time to think and so just reacted, making my way to the nearest section of shore, stumbling spasmodically. With relief I grasped the rough branches of the hedge and could see, through sweat drenched eyes, my parents rushing along the bank side.

“That was a lucky escape, son” gasped my father. A few more seconds and we might have lost you.

“You’re never going skating again!” screamed my mother.

We made our way solemnly back along the banks of the river, eyeing the contrite staff who were being questioned by security.

As the gloom darkened into thick night, I looked back on the pristine lake and marvelled on how lucky I was to escape with my life……….

The Accident 

I woke up. I walked down the road to get some food. I was tired.

I was hungry so I went to a Mcdonald’s. The queue was very very very big.

I didn’t want to wait so I went to the toilet. Inside the toilet it smelled very very bad. When I flushed the toilet the water came out and I was sucked into the toilet. I was being sucked into the toilet! I was sad.

A couple of hours later, someone heard me crying from in the sewer and helped me out. I smelled bad.

In future, I learned not to be flushed down the toilet.

Ealing High School

Uxbridge Road

23rd June 2012

Dear Head teacher,

I am writing this letter because I believe that more equipment is needed for the school gym. I hope you will consider my point of view. The most important items we need are running machines and a trampoline.

The first reason I believe this is because exercise makes a big difference to the way that people feel. 80% of students have said that exercise makes them happier and gives them more energy. Surely you can see why more equipment is a good idea?

The second reason I believe this is because lots of young people are overweight these days. For example, 1 in 4 young people in the UK are obese. This is a clearly a disgrace - getting more exercise at school would be an ideal way of tackling this problem.

It is true that some people disagree with me. They say that the new equipment will cost a lot of money, and that the school could use this money to buy more computers or books. However, this is not correct. If the students aren’t feeling happy and healthy then it doesn’t matter what other resources they have. They won’t be motivated to use them – that’s why the gym equipment is more important!

In conclusion, gym equipment is a priority for the school. I know that many other students feel the same. I hope that you will consider this letter when you look at the spending budget for the school.

Yours sincerely,

(Student name)

Carefully choosing their places among the sea of sunbathers, the new arrivals to the beach lay down their towels on the glistening sand as a red-faced toddler chants, "I want ice cream, I want ice cream!" as he passes the multicoloured van with his already exasperated mother.

Lounging on their luxurious houseboats, the wealthy residents of the marina gaze out to sea, watching the gentle waves move against weathered rocky outcrops.  On one of the larger houseboats, a family of five dine on a bronzed lobster talking happily to each other.

Scuttling along the sea-stained sand, crabs of all shapes and sizes frantically make their escape from determined rock poolers.

Wielding her flimsy pink net, a young girl of around five perches on a boulder, laughing joyously as she scatters shrimp and prawns alike. Staring happily at his collection of shells, a young boy laughs as the waves lap at his feet.

Ice cream in hand, his mother watches him lazily from under the cheap, colourful umbrella.  As if on a mission, a younger boy of around three digs at the sand, sweating as the sun beats down on him.

On a cliff, high above the beach, stands an aged man, grimacing at the inferior beings below.  Clad in a huge overcoat, heavy black boots and a scarf wrapped around his neck, the greying individual turns and begins his journey home. Carelessly floating on a pair of lilos, two teenagers talk ceaselessly - breaking out in laughter and falling off their bright pink lilos every so often.  The scent of hotdogs makes them hungry as they drag their lilos to the shore, intent on coercing their parents into

opening their wallets. Rain begins to fall on the beach, awakening sunbathers and scattering beach goers.   As people start to pack up and leave, the rain grows heavier, causing bikini-clad girls to scream and take cover under umbrellas and food stalls.  Engines roar in to life, and the beach is completely empty.

A busy airport 

Shops and cafes filled everywhere. People were very busy and noisy. I was hungry but didn’t know where to go. A woman was running around screaming, saying I want a burger!  Outside a plane roared by, like a fish. The toilets were full of people. In a cafe some children were playing football and annoying everyone. Outside the plane crashed - boom! The woman came to talk to me saying she was lost, but she still needed a burger. The day was hot and sticky. Lots of flashing lights lit up the departure gate like a christmas tree. There was the smell of smelly chickens and burning burgers.

  • Write a thank you letter for a present you didn’t want.
  • Write a thank you letter for a holiday you didn’t enjoy.
  • Describe a person who is important to you.
  • Describe your pet or an animal you know well.
  • Write a letter of complaint to the vet after an unfortunate incident in the waiting room.
  • Write a set of instructions explaining how to make toast.
  • You are about to interview someone for a job. Write a list of questions you would like to ask the applicant.
  • Write a letter to complain about the uniform at your school.
  • Write a leaflet to advertise your home town.
  • Describe the room you are in.

Checklist for story writing

  • make sure you answer the question

Checklist for letter writing 

  • Letter heading
  • complex sentences
  • ESCAPE Paragraphs
  • formal tone / language

Checklist for descriptive writing 

Checklist for continuing the story 

Did you like this article? Rate it!


I am passionate about travelling and currently live and work in Paris. I like to spend my time reading, gardening, running, learning languages and exploring new places.

50 Common English Phrasal Verbs

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Creative writing in english in exams and in the classroom.

Hints and Tips - 7 minute read

Isobel Woodger, OCR English Subject Advisor

Isobel Woodger

Reading as a writer, writing as a reader

Our approach tries to marry students’ experiences as readers and writers. This is why the creative component for Language and Literature is called “Reading as a writer, writing as a reader”, to emphasise that students should see elements they’ve explored in their texts not just as inspiration, but as a set of tools they can use in their work.

Equally, as I saw during a recent English and Media Centre (EMC) course on teaching The Bloody Chamber , creative writing can create powerful, conceptual responses to texts as well as deepen understanding of the author’s process.

What is our approach to creative writing tasks?

Crucial to our approach, at all levels, is the dual focus on narrative and choice. We believe in offering students a choice in which narrative they are asked to create to enable better, more authentic responses. It’s important that students feel they are involved in the assessment as opposed to simply sitting it.

Additionally, we focus on narrative over pure descriptive writing as we think this helps generate truly creative, imaginative work. In Component 2 of our GCSE English Language course , students are asked to write a creative response to one of two prompts, like those below from the 2018 June series .

One is narrative based, e.g. giving a title as a prompt for a story; the other is more of a personal, reflective response, giving a scenario to develop.

From June 2018, GCSE English Language Component 2:

This links neatly to the tasks we set in A Level Language & Literature course which we co-developed with EMC. In the second part of Component 3, students choose one of two narrative prompts like these from the 2018 June series:

Students should write approximately 500 words of an opening to a narrative, clearly using some of the bullet points provided. They are, in the next question, asked to write a commentary on their work.

What are our examiners saying?

Our examiners are aware that writing creatively on demand is a complex brief to fulfil. We also know that what we respond to as readers is often the author’s control: how they guide our responses to places, people and topics, as well as play with our assumptions and expectations.

At GCSE, the mark scheme talks about Level 6 students adapting the form of their writing “to position the reader” as a way to demonstrate “sophisticated control of purpose and effect” alongside “skilfully control[ing] overall structure.” Ultimately, whatever their level, students should aim to write a piece that demonstrates a sense of narrative control over its style and is structured to direct their reader’s response.

Without taking the time to plan a response, it can be hard to demonstrate this control. As the June 2018 GCSE Examiners’ Report says, “The best work has been carefully planned and builds to a clear and effective conclusion.” Knowing what and how they want to write offers students more control over their work and gives them greater scope for inventiveness.

A crucial way to approach students’ ability to plan is to build their understanding of structural choices. Being able to choose what narrative voice they wish to use, where the story should open and close, how the story ought to progress – these are structural decisions that can enable students to write more imaginatively, without a dependence solely on vocabulary extension. Naturally, exposing students to a wide range of texts of different kinds is what aids this understanding.

Some consideration of time can be a great way for students to be more formally and structurally inventive, as outlined in the same report: “The use of flashback, flash forward, starting at the linear conclusion and working back to the beginning […] can all bring a great deal of creative originality to straightforward or even rather mundane content.”

Creative writing strategies for the classroom and the exam:

Use analogies both as instructions and models. For example, ask students to think of perspective as being like directing a film scene, where your decisions about where the camera should be and who it should focus on can change how the audience feels.

Don’t be afraid to use creative writing as tool for understanding other texts or ideas. Teaching students to write creatively only in response to examination prompts isn’t the way to broaden their ideas. Instead, use creative writing as a way for them to respond to a Literature text; use it as a way for them to express their thoughts about a concept like inequality, or relationships.

Using style models is underrated. Get students to write in the style of a range of authors, so they can learn from the inside out how voice is constructed in different ways depending on the writer.

Exploratory writing could form part of the planning process. Often students think planning means coming up with a list straight away. It’s worth asking students to write in an exploratory way about a text or a task before getting them to consider which of those ideas might form a road map for their own writing.

Effective description moves beyond modifiers. Adjectives and adverbs are important but should be used with judgement. Having a wider range of descriptive, precise verbs will give students more control over their work.

Plan to write something ‘real’. This isn’t a plea for realist fiction, but rather, responses that have a sense of emotional reality. This can help ground writing, giving it depth and direction. This can be easy to miss when trying to plan for something dramatic or surprising.

In short, we want students to write pieces that demonstrate control and consideration, which show they can choose words with care to craft a planned narrative. We think the more students are aware that their experiences as readers can be used or adapted for themselves in their own work, the wider range of tools students have at their fingertips.

Stay connected

Have you got any creative writing strategies you’d like to share? Or perhaps there’s a particular area of the subject you’d like us to talk about. In either case, do submit your comments below or email us at [email protected] . You can also sign up to receive email updates or follow us on Twitter at @OCR_English .

About the author

Isobel joined OCR as a member of the English subject team, with particular responsibility for A and AS Level English Literature and A and AS Level English Language and Literature (EMC).

She previously worked as a classroom teacher in a co-educational state secondary school, with three years as second-in-charge in English with responsibility for Key Stage 5. In addition to teaching all age groups from Key Stage 3 to 5, Isobel worked with the University of Cambridge’s Faculty of Education as a mentor to PGCE trainees. Prior to this, she studied for an MA in film, television and screen media with Birkbeck College, University of London while working as a learning support assistant at a large state comprehensive school.

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