By Dr. Catherine Noske, Editor, Westerly Magazine


Essentials: Creative Progression
  1. Encouraging an instinctive creative response – A generative engagement with material, an understanding of the importance of creative effect.
  2. Developing creative skills – Confidence in language technique and the ability to craft language in ways distinct from other disciplines.
  3. Building practice, the capacity for flexibility – Developing creative skills in reference to underlying theoretical concepts. This demands a confidence in application.
Responsive Exercises:

Choose a colour, and create a list of all the things you associate with that colour. Arrange these into a list, using the syllables to create a beat.

Don’t restrict the focus – the list-making exercise often brings out new ideas and connections to move off. You can mix it up by suggesting forms or patterns to attempt (i.e. Haiku, Limerick, etc.) or calling combinations at random.

Developing Skills

You are walking through a busy park and a child lets go of a balloon. Write this (or any similar) scene:

  • In present tense
  • In past tense
  • In first person perspective
  • In third person perspective
  • Using repetition
  • Using the balloon as a symbol for hope
  • Using the balloon as a symbol for fear

Complete these in runs of two/three, and discuss what changes in the piece with each manifestation; what is easy/difficult and why; what they feel was effective.

Don’t force students to share writing, but encourage them to consider what has shifted, what they might take from each.

Ask students to develop their favourite into a full piece.

Developing Practice
  • Write a story about a man who has lost his son in a war, without mentioning either death, war or the son.
  • Write a story about the same man, from the perspective of his wife.
  • Write a letter from the son, sent home before he died.

Exercise aims to encourage student in the application of technique as a problem-solving mechanism to the scenario. Student must identify and apply their choice of technique in responding.

All senior secondary English courses aim to develop students’:

  • skills in listening, speaking, reading, viewing and writing
  • capacity to create texts for a range of purposes, audiences and contexts
  • understanding and appreciation of different uses of language.

In addition, the English ATAR course aims to develop students’ ability to:

  • understand the use of language for communication
  • analyse, evaluate and create sustained imaginative, interpretive and persuasive texts in a range of modes
  • engage in critical analysis and evaluation.
Conceptual Exercises

Write a piece with two narratorial voices. One exists only in their own world, the other talks directly to the reader.

What do we need in a piece to create the suspension of disbelief?

This type of exercise both encourages the development of specific techniques (more can be layered in if needed, ie. specific personages for each voice); and asks the student to reflect on the practical application of the concept which underpins.

Salman Rushdie sees writers as:

“‘the unacknowledged legislators of the world’, to believe in the literary art as the proper counterweight to power, and to see literature as a lofty transnational, transcultural force that could, in Bellow’s great formulation, ‘open the universe a little more.’”

Joseph Anton (2012)


Always attempt to mark for what the piece could become, not what it is.

  • Mark with acknowledgement of techniques shown. Use terms.
  • Mark with encouragement – point out strengths
  • Mark with suggestions to support – i.e. more effective if…
  • Ask questions. Get the student to justify their instinctive approach.
Composing, Section Three – 30%
  • Questions require the candidate to demonstrate writing skills by choosing form(s) of writing appropriate to specific audiences, contexts and purposes.
  • The questions require the candidate to create a sustained imaginative, interpretive or persuasive text.
  • Questions are not directly related to texts studied.

One question from a choice of four or five.

Suggested working time: 60 minutes

Developing Response – the exam scenario


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