I think you’ll agree with me when I say…

HSC Creative Writing is REALLY hard. It’s really hard to come up with a good idea, and it’s hard to know whether what you’ve written is any good. It’s so subjective.

Or is it?

Well, it turns out, that there is a simple proven formula for writing an incredible creative writing story that scores a Band 6. That’s right. There’s a formula…

HSC Creative Writing

 

And in this article, our HSC Creative Writing Crash Course Guide, we’re going to show you exactly how, with 10 easy steps you can write that killer creative writing story!

Let’s Get Started!

Step 1: What even is ‘Discovery’?

Want to know a secret?

Most students sit down and try to develop an idea for creative writing without first thinking about ‘HSC Discovery’. They then later on attempt to mould their story to better illustrate an aspect of Discovery.

The result?

A story that often doesn’t capture HSC Discovery in a meaningful way that nails the marking criteria for the HSC.

Here’s the point:

The marking criteria for HSC Creative Writing to score a Band 6 requires you to:

skilfully explore the concept of Discovery’

Let’s put some emphasis on ‘skilfully’. Writing your story, and then trying to ‘stuff’ Discovery into it, just won’t cut it.

So, what does it mean to ‘skillfully explore’ Discovery for your HSC Creative Writing piece?

Find out here in this in-depth article where we use the syllabus to deconstruct ‘Discovery’ for you so you make sure your HSC Creative Writing story ‘skillfully explores the concept of Discovery’ and gets you a Band 6!

Read our in-depth article on HSC Discovery here:

What is ‘Discovery’ for HSC English Creative Writing?

Step 2: How to Develop Your Creative Writing Story Idea

Are you making the #1 mistake when trying to write your HSC Creative Writing story?

In our work with thousands of Year 12 students over the last decade, the #1 mistake we see students make over and over again when it comes to creative writing is this:

Starting the writing process by first jumping into brainstorming to try and develop a unique idea for their story. 

As you’re reading this right now, you might be thinking – but isn’t that what you’re meant to do?

Doesn’t writing a great story start with a great idea for the story?

This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Starting with trying to come up with a great idea for a story out of thin air from the very beginning places a lot of pressure on you to have that ‘moment of inspiration’ and the reality is that (as you may have discovered) this can be almost impossible!

A great story starts with a great character.

And specifically in the case of HSC English, it starts with a great character who is experiencing a discovery of some form.

A great HSC creative writing story starts with a great character experiencing discovery.

How can you develop your HSC Discovery Creative Writing Idea then?

Find out in this in-depth article where provide you with a step by step framework to help you develop a unique story idea through the lens of a great character!

Read our in-depth article on developing your story idea here:

How to Develop Your HSC Discovery Creative Writing Idea

Step 3: Develop Your HSC Discovery Character

OK, I know what you’re thinking:

So, a great story starts with a great character. But how on earth do you create a great character?

Creating a normal character sounds hard enough. But a great one? Man, this sounds really hard.

The biggest mistake students make when trying to create a great character is this:

You try too hard and write about things you don’t really know.

So your character all of a sudden becomes this epic person, who is a cross between James Bond and the Hobbit, living in Elizabethan England. OK, that might be an exaggeration, but you get the point.

So, how do you create a great character for your HSC Creative Writing?

There is good news:

There is proven process that the likes of Pixar and Disney use to craft their amazing characters.

Find out this proven process in this in-depth article where we provide you with the step by step guide to creating a sophisticated character for your story.

Read our in-depth article on developing your character here:

How to Develop A Character for HSC Discovery Creative Writing

Step 4: Develop a Setting 

So you understand how to skilfully explore Discovery for your story. Tick.

You’ve got a sophisticated character. Tick.

What in what setting and context do they live? Where will your story take place? What time period?

The moon? Ancient Rome? The Amazon? Or your local area?

The biggest mistake students make when creating a setting and context is this:

You make up the setting and context as you go. So it’s not planned out before you write.

Do you think Disney and Pixar make up their setting and context for their stories as they go?

Nope!

Whatever setting you have it needs to:

  1. Be intentionally chosen and planned
  2. Be something you are familiar with and can write about well
  3. Be consistent with your character
  4. Be flexible to fit with varied stimulus material you receive in exams

So how do you choose your setting and context for your HSC Creative Writing story?

In this in-depth article, we’ll show you step by step how to develop each one of these intentionally for your creative story!

Read our in-depth article on developing your setting and context here:

How To Develop A Setting For Your HSC Creative Writing Piece

Step 5: Find Your Point of View 

Which one is better?

  1. My journey to the shops was made much less enjoyable by the sweltering heat. I was feeling light-headed and faint. 
  2. Your journey to the shops was made much less enjoyable by the sweltering heat which forced you to become light-headed and faint.
  3. Jennifer’s journey to the shops was made much less enjoyable by the sweltering heat which forced her to become light-headed and faint.

Get this:

It was a trick question…

Writing in 1st, 2nd or 3rd Person can be great – it depends on the type of story, the number of characters, and what you are trying to achieve.

I’m going to take a bet however on the following:

You don’t even think about which point of view to write in. When you start writing, you automatically write in the POV you feel most comfortable in.

Does this sound like you?

Pixar intentionally chose Marlin’s POV in Finding Nemo – not Nemo’s. This wasn’t an accidental decision, it was an intentional one…

It all boils down to this – when you choose your POV:

  1. You need to choose it intentionally
  2. You need to evaluate which POV will be most flexible with different stimulus type
  3. You need to consider how many characters you have and which POV supports dialogue
  4. You need to consider which POV enables you to get inside your characters head and whether this is critical

So, how do you choose your point of view for your HSC Creative Writing story?

Find out here in this article whether 1st person, 2nd person or 3rd person is the right POV for your story! Each point of view has different pros and cons depending on the structure of your plot, and the number of characters you have. Have you chosen the right one for your HSC creative writing story?

Read our in-depth article on choosing your POV here:

Selecting A Point of View for HSC English Creative Writing 

Step 6: Using A Formula To Write A Band 6 Plot

OK, I know what you’re thinking:

We’re at Step 6 and I still haven’t got a plot or story idea yet. What on earth is going in? I really need a story idea!

There’s good news:

Now that you’ve laid the foundation of your story, it’s FINALLY now the time to develop your plot. And because you’ve laid the foundation, creating a great story idea is going to be much easier.

So what’s the secret?

All great stories have the EXACT same plot structure

That’s right. The same plot structure.

It’s called the 5 Point Plot Structure:

  1. Inciting Incident
  2. Rising Action
  3. The Conflict
  4. The Climax
  5. The Resolution

Learn How to Use the 5 Point Plot Structure for Your HSC Creative Writing Story

Use this formula to come up with an amazing plot for your HSC creative writing story!

Read our in-depth article on developing your plot structure here:

Developing Your Story Idea for HSC English Creative Writing

Step 7: Pick Your Narrative Type

Okay, so we’re at Step 7 – surely we’ll be putting pen to paper soon… right? Wrong! 

First, you need to pick what narrative type you’ll be writing.

I can hear you asking: ‘But aren’t we just writing a short story?’

Well sure, you can write a short story, but the HSC Discovery Creative Writing PIECE can take any form you’d like – a monologue, a letter, or anything else that takes your fancy!

Writing something other than a short story also helps you stand out from the competition and impress those HSC markers! 

So, how do you choose? 

You get some help from Art of Smart of course! Read our in-depth article on picking a narrative type that will help you get that Band 6 here:

How to Pick a Narrative Type for your HSC Creative Writing Piece

Step 8: Use the Syllabus to Make Sure You’ll Get A Band 6

Alright, it’s time to start writing that draft! 

But, wait! 

It doesn’t matter how amazing your HSC Discovery creative writing piece is, if it doesn’t relate to the syllabus, you’re in for a bad time.

Get this: 

There are only two things you need to keep in mind to make sure your HSC Creative Writing Piece is relevant to the Area of Study!

  1. The HSC markers 
  2. Expressing your understanding of ‘Discovery’

So, how do you make sure you impress the HSC markers and express your understanding of discovery?

The marking criteria for HSC creative writing is that you need to “skilfully explore the concept of Discovery”. Read this article to find out how you can ensure you HSC creative writing story gets a Band 6!

Making Your HSC English Creative Writing Piece Relevant for ‘Discovery’

Step 9: Edit and Proofread Your Piece

Ready to hand in your HSC Creative Writing piece? Absolutely not! 

Are you ready? I’m about to teach you the easiest way to gain extra marks in HSC Creative Writing.

Editing.

Believe it or not there’s an art to editing and proofreading to gain those couple of extra marks that could push your mark right up!

We’ve boiled it down to 4 simple steps…

  1. Read your piece out loud
  2. Show – Don’t Tell!
  3. Short and Simple
  4. Less is more

To find out how to use these steps to do a killer edit of your HSC Creative Writing piece, check out our article on editing and proofreading here!

How to Edit & Proofread Your HSC Creative Writing

Step 10: How to Use Your Piece With Any HSC English Exam Stimuli

Congratulations!

You’ve got a KILLER HSC Creative Writing piece under your belt. Trust me, that hard work is going to pay off in the HSC Exam! 

“But how can I possibly adapt my amazing story to the question they throw at me in the actual exam?!” I hear you asking.

Here’s how: 

You read our article on adapting your HSC Creative Writing Piece to the Stimulus during the HSC Exam and learn that the way you adapt your piece depends on the stimulus you’re given!

Then guess what! You’re done with your HSC Creative Writing Piece – and most likely earned a Band 6 in the process!

How to Adapt Your HSC English Creative Writing Piece to the Stimulus during the Exam

Really want to nail that HSC Creative Writing Piece for HSC English?

We’ve developed a personalised HSC Creative Writing Crash Course where our team of expert tutors & coaches work with you 1 on 1 at your home to help you craft a Band 6 creative writing piece!

Check our our personalised HSC Creative Writing Crash Course here or contact us on [email protected] today to get started!

Good Luck!

Have a question for us?

We’ve helped over 3,000 students achieve an average mark increase of 19.41%! Flick us a message on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/artofsmart/), give us a call on 1300 267 888, or email us on [email protected].


Elizabeth Goh isn’t a fan of writing about herself in third-person, even if she loves writing. Elizabeth decided she didn’t get enough English, History or Legal Studies at Abbotsleigh School for her own HSC in 2010 so she came back to help others survive it with Art of Smart Education. She’s since done a mish-mash of things with her life which includes studying a Bachelor of Arts (Politics and International Relations) with a Bachelor of Laws at Macquarie University, working for NSW Parliament, and writing about writing.

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