In the 2017 examination for paper 1 from AQA, there were two tasks. The first one gave a picture of two people on a bus. Task A was to write a descriptive piece about them using the picture.
The second task, Task B, asked students to write a story about two very different people.
Which one did you do? Which would you do if these were your choices? I would go for the description every time because I can use everything in the picture to help me, but many students, even those who are better at analysis than description, go for the second task.
Why is this an error?
The reason that is a mistake, in my humble opinion, is that unless you know the rules regarding storytelling, you will mess it up somehow. The picture that follows is an example of a plan for any story in any exam.
When you write a story, do so following this drawing.
Describe the characters first, then place them somewhere, in a setting, add some form of conflict, get the action to rise, or increase, like a sense of danger and then, run that to a climax. Finally, resolve the panic in the story with an ending that basically tells what the moral of the story is. Then you have a decent plan for a story.
For those who love logic, this is logic based; A+B=C etc.
What follows is a short story attempt, that took two one hour sessions to complete at home with an English tutor in situe. See if you can follow it and see how she has used, more or less, the plan in the picture. She has subverted it ever so slightly.
Charles was a thirty-five-year-old, middle class, well-spoken, self-employed engineer who earned £35,000 a year, who had a wife, two children and an extremely expensive Audi. He was such a caring, honest man who was always happy to help and remained calm at all times because he was always one step ahead of everyone else. He was polite, well educated as he left High School with 11 qualifications and had gained a Master’s Degree in Business and Engineering.
“I’m really excited for our experience on the high ropes” thought Charles. “I have been looking forward to today for weeks!”
He heard a man near him shouting and being very rude to others, so swiftly turned around to see what all the commotion was about. This was Bob causing a scene with the others.
“Are we actually going to get on these high ropes or are we all just standing here staring at them?” yelled Bob to the people surrounding him.
He was a thirty-four-year-old, working class, single man who worked as a bin man who earned £11,000 a year because he only worked part time. The rest of the time he was getting into trouble. He could barely afford a house, had a very basic, rusty old Ford Focus. He was a rude man who was constantly shouting at people and was always getting into trouble with the police as he would say what was on his mind to people without thinking. He left High School with no qualifications, so only had training to be able to be a refuse collector. He did not go to University, so was much less educated than most of the people who were at the High Ropes Adventure Park with him.
The problem that Bob always had was that he felt he was better than everyone else. He was a lot more confident than others and would always be the first to do things without thinking.
They both quickly approached the rickety, old swing bridge, with Bob feeling confident that he would cross with ease. However, Charles was feeling anxious and was not so confident in himself. As they stepped out, onto the bridge and began to walk across, Charles started to feel very uneasy about the rickety bridge and decided to slow his pace down a little, whereas Bob was powering along the bridge in front, until he heard a snap!
The sound came from one of the panels breaking underneath him!
“Do I look okay to you? I think my leg is broken and I need your help to get me out!” exclaimed Bob.
“Let me help you,” enquired Charles, hoping that he could be of any use.
Bob was wriggling and struggling to get his hanging leg out from the hole he had created, shouting and screaming at people as they weren’t helping him at all and that they were not being quick enough in make the decision of what they should do. He soon realised that Charles was the only person nearby who looked as if they had an idea of what to do, so looked up at Charles with a sense of hope in his eyes and sarcasm in his voice.
“Is there any chance Charles, that you are able to try and help pull me out of this hole?”
“Yes of course, I just have to get myself across to you first.”
Showing the struggle on his face, Charles slowly but surely crossed the bridge to where Bob was hanging. He reached forward with his left hand to secure himself onto the rope at the side of the bridge. With his other hand, he knelt down and hooked his arm under Bob’s shoulder. He then slowly and safely began to stand up straight. As he did so he said something to Bob.
“3…2…1” and then he lifted Bob out of the hole.
Because of this incident, Bob began to realise that he should be more like Charles, because he would not offer to help anyone regardless of who they are. He noticed the calmness in Charles and wished he was more like him. The ironic part was that they both came from the same public secondary school and he began to realise that it just shows that if you put a bit of hard work and effort into what you love, you will go a long way, whereas, if you are not bothered about what you do and could not care less, then you will not get very far.
Well done that student.