English Tips

University of Sydney Medicine

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  • There are 2 main things with creatives. Reflect on your own experience of stories. There are 2 key factors: Does it make sense, and is it interesting
  • My mum loves to tell me stories but provides me no context and says, without any context, “Don’t you think it’s so rude of them to do that?”
  • So make sure that whatever you write makes sense. Get lots of people, especially people who don’t have good English, to see if they understand what’s happening. You’ll be surprised how many people think they’re edgy and write a story that no one can read
  • But before you do that, you first have to make sure that the story outline is interesting. I recommend plotting out the story using powerpoint, with each slide being a scene. Imagine the short story as a movie
  • You can easily make a story interesting by thinking about action. Too often students keep describing what the environment looked like. Instead of describing all about the rust and brown doors and the creaking sounds and the dripping – you can just say “The air smelt of rust”. I get the idea. Now get onto the exciting action – the dialogue – the fighting, running – the drama – the plot!
  • Another reason students find it difficult to make it interesting is because they don’t have enough scenes. Often students will say “I need to describe how the place looks and how the character looks and feels so I don’t have more space for more scenes”. Wrong. Focus on putting in too many scenes in – and then begin to cull.
  • Choosing a good plot is really important. An interesting story will write itself. Teachers are really marking for a story that keeps them entertained. Everything else like techniques, is secondary. Techniques enhance a good story. A good story with no techniques will get a 16/20. A shit story with good techniques is a 10/20. You can’t make something boring like visiting your grandma that interesting unless you’re very skilled. Think of stories that you find exciting – maybe one in your life and just tell that


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