AS Creative Writing - Form and Style

A list of top tips for each type of non-fiction that may be included on the exam. 

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Pitches

  • Needs to be written as if spoken.
  • Only one speaker.
  • Include acknowledgement of an audience e.g. 'good afternoon'.
  • Include facts and statistics. 
  • Needs to be formal as you're trying to gain something and persuade.
  • Include sufficient detail, e.g. time frames, costs.
  • Acknowledge that the event/product hasn't been funded yet, use future tense, e.g. 'if this were to happen.'
  • This type of activity is more likely to have a word count (300 words).

Top Techniques:

  • Rhetorical questions: 'Are you sick and tired of mundane sandwich fillings?'
  • Future tense: 'If this project were to go ahead, we would see a rapid increase in...'
  • Spice up the pitch with adjectives, don't be afraid to brag: 'This revoluationary new development has the power to transform the way that we use smartphones.'
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Speeches

  • Needs to be written as if spoken.
  • Appeal to your audience using descriptive and emotive language.
  • Include facts to support your argument. 
  • Draw emphasis on key phrases using rhetorical devices.
  • Deliver arguments succinctly whilst using powerful language to show your passion for the subject.
  • Write to persuade.
  • Acknowledge your audience, e.g. 'We can stop racism.'

Top Techniques:

  • Use emotive language and imagery: 'Art is the creative framework of education. Without it, our curriculum would crumble, brick by brick.'
  • Appeal to the audience: 'Parents, it's your job to...'
  • Repeat phrases to draw emphasis to them: 'Without art, we are lost. Without art, our world is void of colour. Without art, we cannot thrive.'
  • Use inclusive phrases: 'Together, we can end the tyrannical human cruelty over innocent animals.'
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Blogs

  • Language can be more informal than articles.
  • Develop your own voice through your writing.
  • Add humour; blogs are intended to entertain and inform.
  • Be as witty as possible to give your blog originality and individualism. 
  • Write about current, topical subjects. Draw comparisons to other similar topics and your own experiences.
  • Can include relevant and/or humorous annecdotes. 

Top Techniques:

  • Be inventive and humorous with language: '90's fashion still gives me recurring nightmares; acid wash jeans, skintight latex catsuits and apalling curtain fringes all vie for attention until I find myself counting frightful fashion fads instead of sheep.'
  • Write about current topics: 'Is taking selfies with your nan taking it too far?'
  • Include your own experiences: 'My primary reason for learning to drive was my desire to distance myself as far as possible from the trench coat wearing crazies on the Birmingham bus route.'  
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Newspaper Articles

  • Be formal and use a serious tone, with the purpose of informing.
  • Include factual details.
  • Use eye-catching and witty headlines - don't be afraid to drop in a pun. 
  • Include statements e.g. from witnesses, spokespeople etc.
  • Keep it brief and to the point.
  • Speculation can be included, but be careful with assumptions, e.g. 'It is unclear as to the cause of the crash, although there have been reports of...'
  • Include details about further events e.g. investigations, reports.

Top Techniques

  • Include facts: 'The crash, which occured last Tuesday at 10.05 am, is said to have...'
  • Be creative with language but stay formal: 'The party's manifesto has veered precociously into...'
  • Cover yourself with any speculation: 'A source close to the victim claimed that she is recovering well, although the hospital is yet to release an official statement.'
  • Include details about the future: 'Further investigations will commence on the 21st June...'
  • Witty headlines: 'New music scheme fails to strike a chord with local pupils'
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Magazine Articles

  • Can be either educational, gossip or based on a particular subject, e.g. fishing.
  • More informal and descriptive than newspaper articles.
  • Educational magazines will be more likely on the exam.
  • Educational magazines are often aimed at students so use appropriate language and simple, understandable descriptions.
  • Points are clear and often separated into small chunks

Top Techniques:

  • Summarise the topic in introductions: 'Shakespeare was an undeniable prodigy, universally celebrated for his stirring tragedies. But is Shakespeare still relevant for modern day students?'
  • Use subtitles to break up information: 'Viola Unveiled: Deception in Twelfth Night'
  • Explain clearly and in academic language (for an educational magazine): 'The Romantics were governed by their connection to nature.'
  • Draw emphasis to important facts by including small 'Top Tips' or 'Key Points' sections: 'Three Top Tips for Understanding Poetry'
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Autobiography

  • There is no right or wrong - this is your story, so develop your own writing voice.
  • Use own experiences (obviously) and anecdotes. 
  • Use humour and entertaining, creative vocabulary. Make the audience interested in your life; you may deliberately be set a task on a boring topic. 
  • Make sure you select interesting topics to talk about; nobody wants to know what happened when you went grocery shopping (unless you met a celebrity or something)

Top Techniques:

  • Use rhetorical language: 'I was a squirming greenfly caught in the web of adulthood, where every meal I cooked came with minor burns or food poisoning; and where the prospect of living independently loomed like a savage arachnid. '
  • Be humorous: 'Whilst Netflix provided me with a bountiful education on Disney films and chick flicks, I can't claim that I ever mastered the quantradic equation, or whatever you call it.'
  • Be interesting! 'Meandering the desolate isles of Waitrose one Monday morning, I happened upon a solitary figure scouring the shelves for sushi. As he turned, I realised that it was none other than the supposedly vegan Russel Brand...'*

*Not a true scenario; I don't shop in Waitrose, nor do I doubt Brand's allegiance to veganism. 

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Travel

  • Travel can be adverts, travel guides, books on own travel experiences etc.
  • Descriptive language is crucial.
  • You're doing one of two things: either trying to get the reader to visit a certain place, or describing a place to somebody who will never get chance to visit.
  • Include factual information.
  • Cater to the target audience: the exam may be specific, e.g. 'write about a new spa resort for over 60's.'


Top Techniques:

  • Describe, describe, describe: 'The sparrows flitting in the trees above sound out a jubilant fanfare, welcoming in the spring.'
  • Include plenty of detail, using all of the senses: 'As we ride from the airport to the hotel in a tiny and slightly unstable rickshaw, a thousand intriguing spices jump into our nostrils, intoxicating us before we even set foot on Indian soil.'
  • Include facts: 'At just under 120 km2, Jersey is - as the French would say - rather petite.'
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Editorials

  • Be opinionated! An editorial stands alone from an article in that the writer is giving a particular opinion on a subject.
  • Wit and humour plays a big part in editorials - the reader wants to hear the writer's voice coming through, and often columnists and editorial writers are famous figures who are well known for being opinionated and witty.
  • Topics can range from more serious subjects, like education or the economy, to celebrity gossip or popular culture. 

Top Techniques:

  • Humour and originality are vital, so be adventurous with phrasing and vocabulary: 'If politics was a cup of tea, Ukip would be the luke warm dregs at the bottom that nobody wants to drink.'
  • Choose an opinion, and stick to it - introduce it before shooting straight in to your reasoning: 'Scientists now say that video games are good for children, which makes me more furious than an angry bird.'
  • Rant as much as you like, it's all about YOU!
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Blurbs

  • Whatever you do, don't include spoilers! Everyone has made the mistake of reading a blurb that summaries the whole plot, or watching a film trailer that gives away the ending. Not fun.
  • Be short and snappy, and leave the reader hanging. A good way to do this is using questions (try and find the main question that needs to be answered in the book, and slap it on the blurb).
  • Remember to include the names of main characters, but don't include full on descriptions or character profiles. 
  • This is likely to be a 300 word task.

Top Techniques:

  • Outline the concept of the story: 'When Marvin decided to jump from the 6th floor of the Royal hotel, he didn't expect to take flight...' 
  • Be intriguing and leave major questions needing to be answered: 'Without food, water or fire, how can an entire nation survive?'
  • Include excerpts from reviews of the book: 'A captivating insight into the brutaity of human nautre. - The Daily Express' 
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Encyclopedia/Information Cards

  • You may be given information and asked to condense it. Highlighting is a good way of picking out key facts, but remember that each fact will need padding out with descriptive language (more so in the case of an information card).
  • Keep audience in mind. You could be asked to persuade as well as inform, e.g. 'Write an information card persuading A level students to join a college rowing team.'
  • Similarly, the information given will need to be adapted for the audience, e.g. for a younger audience, simplify language and use clear explanations. 
  • This will most likely be a 300 word task.

Top Techniques:

  • Pad out facts with more descriptive language to ensure that readers maintain their interest: 'Anne Boleyn is said to have had six fingers, several large moles and a completely deluded husband.'
  • Be persuasive if needed: 'When it comes to Physics degrees, Brookbank Univerity has shot to the top of the league tables with their innovative methods of research and enviable facilities.'
  • Use appropriate language for the audience. 
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Reviews

  • These could be on film, music, books, TV programmes, games, food etc.
  • Film, theatre, food and music reviews tend to have a more serious tone to reviews for TV and games, although the tone is dependent largely on genre and audience (a review for a Disney film will be less serious that a review for a Hamlet production).
  • Be descriptive, don't just list pros and cons. Write as if it were a first person story, but with the addition of facts and opinions on whatever you're reviewing.
  • Brief summaries and conclusions can be useful for rounding off a review. 

Top Techniques

  • If writing about theatre/film, think about set, plot, character, cinematography, cast, previous films/ comparisons to other films and plays, music, lighting, SFX etc. 
  • If writing about food, think about taste, appearance, the restaurant itself, cost, menu, customer service, how fast you're served etc. 
  • Describe as in a story: 'The tables formed an intricate labyrinth with a small yet well equipped bar at its centre. Not an ideal layout, by all means, as I found myself tripping over fellow diners' feet in a futile attempt to refill my wine glass.' 
  • Include ratings: The Polar Express - ★★★
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