There is no other way to describe Paper One, Section Two but as the bane of every HSC student’s existence. Yes, this section requires you to compose an imaginative text that demonstrates what you have learnt about belonging and/or non-belonging. It is essentially a living hell, but don’t be disheartened. Use the ten tips in this guide to help you prepare and compose a response that doesn’t sound suspiciously like Mean Girls or another popular film or book your marker would be aware of.
One: Write What You Know
Use the experiences you have had, the people you know, events you have been to or things you have observed as your starting point. Good writers use the emotions they have felt or ways they have responded or reacted to different situations as the basis for their writing. This is not suggesting that you write a story about a year 12 student who doesn’t belong because that is what you know, but rather that you use the emotions that student might have felt or the responses that student might have and transfer them to a different context or exotic setting, such as a remote tribal village or a time in the past.
Two: Make it believable
If you are writing from the perspective of a middle aged man, they are not going to be saying like, totally, awesome, omg, lol or any other derivative of those words. The events and the way the characters behave and respond to events must be believable given the context you are writing in. If you plan to write about some remote tribe or time from the past, do a little bit of background research so that if the question in your HSC exam allows you to use this story, you at least know about the context and what things could occur/how people would behave in this context.
Three: Get creative with your form
Unless the question specifically states that you have to write a short story/narrative, you do not have to write a narrative. Many students may find it easier to write a narrative as they would have practiced these and are familiar with the structure, however, writing in another form such as diary entries or a letter can really make you stand out from the crowd. For the conventions and features of diary entries, letters, feature articles, conversations, speeches and drama scripts click here to go to through to the resources page.
Four: Avoid clichés
The marker would have read a million stories about school students who struggle because they are bullied and don’t belong by the time they get to yours. You spend 40% of your English course learning about belonging, so you should be able to come up with more creative and insightful ideas about belonging to write about. Don’t just copy a film or book you have watched/read and change a few details-try and use your imagination and use the common feelings that arise when you belong or don’t belong to write something original.
Five: Don’t make it blatantly obvious you are writing about belonging
The markers comments always say that the best responses are ones which don’t automatically scream belonging. Explore the concept implicitly through relationships between people and other people or places and other ideas such as culture and identity. Avoid statements such as “I felt I belonged” or “I hated not belonging” and try instead to use other words that communicate these ideas e.g “I felt safe, like nothing could bring me down” or “I was sick of feeling isolated and like nobody in the group wanted to let me in.” In the planning stage, set out which aspects of belonging you are going to explore and how you will make these implicit throughout your response.