Proofreading your HSC Creative Writing piece is quite the challenge for most students. It can feel almost impossible to turn off our inner critic so we can let the words flow… Then it can be equally difficult to cast an impartial eye over our own creative work. This is because creative writing is subjective, but your markers and teachers are looking for something in particular.
Creative writing can often be the most challenging text type for HSC students to master. Often, digging deep and creating a piece that effectively weaves figurative techniques as well as in depth themes can cause frustration. Moreover, this frustration tends to increase the more time you are allowed to work on the creative piece. Students may run out of time to thoroughly edit their work, in turn missing out on getting their best possible marks. This guide will hopefully show you how to effectively proofread and edit your work, potentially reducing the associated frustration.
1. Ensure that your story makes sense!
Narratives are all about exploring a theme and bringing a story to life. Read your story out to someone you know and have them critique your work. If the person reading it feels as if you did not do something with the characters or themes, change it accordingly.
2. Know the type of piece you are aiming to write
Knowing is half the battle, right? When you know what type of piece you intend to create; you can edit accordingly. As a rule, shorter narratives do not need dialogue. If you have placed dialogue in your short piece, edit that to be a description instead.
On the other hand, remember if you are using dialogue, remember that dialogue only serves three purposes:
- a thematic reason
- a plot reason
- a character development reason.
We recommend you edit your dialogue so that it serves at least one of those purposes.
In addition, if you do utilise dialogue, remember these points:
- use quotations
- separate your sentences between actions before the dialogue and actions after the dialogue
- start a new space or paragraph to indicate a new speaker
Finally, remain consistent in your themes and narrative perspective. Edit out words that change perspective randomly and make sure your diction retains the consistent throughout. This can be tricky, so don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it!
3. Remove “boring” portions of your narrative and liven them up!
Like dialogue, descriptions, subplots, plot points and other writing in your piece serves only three purposes; to explore a theme, to explore characterisation or to further the plot. Sometimes we need a fresh set of eyes to see where these sections are, our English tutors are experts at teaching you how to spot these elements for yourself.
Ask yourself this…
- Does this plot point lead anywhere?
- Does this description serve a purpose?
- Does this section of writing lead anywhere, thematically, character wise or plot wise?
If not, remove these dead sections and replace them with live ones.
4. Re-read your assessment notification and critically analyse if you have fulfilled each point
If you do not have a stimulus and are writing a freestyle piece, this may not apply to you. But often you are required to write to a stimulus – especially in preliminary and HSC trials and exams. If you’ve already sat your in-class assessments for Reading to Write and Module C: Craft of Writing, you’ll want to go carefully through the module rubrics and past papers on the NESA site.
Re-read that assessment or stimulus and ask yourself (or one of our skilled Senior English tutors) the following:
- Does my narrative fit the themes of the stimulus?
- Does it tie with the stimulus well, not just randomly integrated in?
- Am I writing to the specifications laid forth by my assessment?
It is important to remember that if this creative writing piece is for an assessment, that heavily determines what you can and cannot write about. Stuck for creative inspo? Maybe it’s time to ditch doing English alone and have a chat to your adults about high school tutoring…
Hopefully by applying these four tips for proofreading your HSC creative writing piece, you can alleviate the stress associated with your assessment and edit it to perfection.