Tag Archives: folio

Creative Writing Practice

In class we did some creative writing exercises based around turning a tell sentence into a more show piece of writing. Some of the examples we used were as follows:

Example 1:
1) The cat sat on the chair.
2) The chair was covered in a shabby chintz pattern, stained in parts from years of tea drinking. The seat sagged, no longer springy, but flattened from years of bums sitting deep in it’s depth. A contented fluff ball had positioned itself in the seat. Her whiskers stuck out at odd angles. Above her eyes were two grey patches of fur, that gave her the appearance of being very wise. Her fur was very long, and striped. Brown, grey, black and blue hairs striped her body. Her paws were pure white. And she had a small bib too. Like all happy cats, her tongue poked out of her mouth as she slept. The fire crackled, and in the glowing heat, the small feline chose to stretch out further. She extended her front paws northward, and her back paws south, rolling on to her back and exposing her chubby belly. She began to purr.

Example 2:
1) The castle was a ruin.
2) The stones were a pile now, the bare impression of walls was all that remained. The building had once dominated the edge of the cliff, majestically guarding the coast. Now a thin strip of keep wall jutted into the air, precariously peering over the steep edge. Around this tall totem, gulls wheeled in the cruel wind. They cried out as the gusts tried to smash them into the derelict landmark.

Example 3:
1) The girl was sad.
2) She had taken herself off to a corner off the playground, out of the line of sight of the staffroom. She crumpled to the floor, making a dirty nest in the sodden leaves. Bits of moss and branches clung to her tights and dug into her skin. She didn’t care. She pulled her knees up to her chest, and wrapped her skinny arms around them. She tucked her head into the space that was left. It was then, and only then that she let herself go. Since walking out of the classroom, her throat had been burning. A fiery, nipping sensation of tears pushing to be let out. They had danced on the edge of her eyes. And now here they were in one great big flood. And snot too. She couldn’t control it any more.

Turn these sentences into descriptive pieces. (15 sentences each)
1) The dog barked at the door.
2) The apple was in the tree.
3) The mum did the food shop.
4) The boat was on the sea.
5) she made a cup of coffee.

How to Pass the Prelim

Hello small children with brain cells of astronomical growing ability,

On the off-chance that you do bother your bums to look at this website over the season of wintery joy, here is your checklist of pertinent activities to help build architecturally beautiful brain bridges:

complete discursive draft and put on USB
complete creative draft and put on USB
Learn your Great Expectations quotes
Practice at least three Great Expectations essays using the past papers on the SQA
Notes on the first four poems – The Ferryman’s Arms, Nil Nil, 11.00 Baldovan and Waking with Russell
ALL poems annotated
Practice Scottish Set Text BY CLICKING HERE to open Practice Questions
RUAE Past Papers (the passwords are obvious!)

Happy holidays!

Creative Writing – a possible process

A lot of people look at creative writing and freak out. They see a blank page in front of them that needs filled, and a lot of times, especially when it’s folio work, they focus on the quantity (word count!) rather than the quality of their writing. When the SQA or your teacher looks at your work they are looking to see that you can create all the things you analyse in the texts studied in class – plot, atmosphere, character development, setting.

The first thing you need to do if you’re not good at creative writing is decide on a genre and a plot. For this post, we’re going to think about ghost stories. There are some typical things we find in a ghost story – firstly, a ghost, a creepy atmosphere is established and a sinister setting is usually needed. I started out with a rough plan for a ghost story in my head. I know that I want the story to involve a graveyard and that the story will take place at night when everywhere is secluded. I’m not sure about my ghost but I know that my human character will be a girl who is late getting home and decides on a short cut home.

The night air is thick with the darkness of seething clouds. They spill across the sky in squalling waves pushed on by a howling wind. This is the depth of winter and all sensible living things have tucked themselves away till dawn, away from the cruel beasties and monsters that are left to stalk the inky black.

By using the weather I’ve managed to create a spooky atmosphere straight away. You can easily picture a moody night sky closing in on people. If your struggling, try and focus on describing something and think of film scenes for inspiration.

The girl that walked along the pavement seemed well aware of this as she moved from spot of man-made light to man-made light. Her jacket collar was drawn close around her jaw, her tense hands ploughed tight into her pockets and her eyes flashed around at every jumping shadow and flicker of fluorescent glow. She kept a fair distance from the pavement edge, in case something should creep out from its solid depth without her noticing. The girl was late home from her friend’s. She should have left an hour ago, before the light began to fade and the gloom seeped across the sky. She shook her head, annoyed at herself.

Here I’ve introduced the main character. We get a sense that she isn’t too happy about being outside. And she is faced with a problem that she must overcome.

She would have to cut across the graveyard. There was no other way to make it back to her dorm in time before the doors were completely locked. She could feel its looming presence to her left, a coldness seemed to permeate from it, seeping through her skin and entering the very marrow of her bones where it instilled a sharp chill. It was an old cemetery, one that hadn’t seen any new residents for centuries, one with a crumbling church in the middle whilst the graves emanated out from it, like runic spirals.

And there’s the spooky setting! Ooh, isn’t it creepy, with all those crumbling tombstones and the old church that nobody visits anymore. But why is it there? What has caused it to fall into disrepair? I hear you cry.

They said that once the church had been busy, the thriving heart of the community. They said that despite this, a pox came and slaughtered most of the cattle and wiped out half the population. They said that no reason or explanation could be found until a traveling witch hunter turned up. They said that he uncovered a witch – young, beautiful, talented – hidden amongst them who was found guilty of assaulting her town. They said that the enchantress had stood no trial before being sentenced to her death. They said that her murder was a slow and torturous affair, a hanging with weeping entrails and a roasting pyre. They said that her vengeful spirit still prowled the hallowed ground.

They say it’s just a silly ghost story made to frighten kids on Halloween. Now stop flinching at shadows and get yourself home, girl. She looked up for the first time since leaving her friend’s warm apartment and straightened her back out. She thrust her chin out into the cutting night air and turned through the rusted iron gates and onto the flattened grass that served as the cemetery path.

Only a very keen watcher could note that just as she passed below the gate there was the slightest hunch of her shoulders and slackening of her spine.

As she walked across the dark she could feel the ground beneath her faltering away. She was going to have to concentrate hard on staying upright. She couldn’t see thing. She tripped on a shattered headstone. Her bag sprawling out before her, contents spilling out and her hair flying. Her shin was in agony, and she could already feel the purple smudges of a bruise forming on her delicate skin. She let out a whimper.

Somewhere in the darkness, someone whimpered back…

She stopped breathing. Sitting bolt upright, she spun around looking left and right. She couldn’t see anything; only the strange humps and bumps of cracked grave markers and the contorted branches of trees and bushes.

It’s just a fox… or badger. It’s nothing to be afraid of, she tried to convince herself. But her hands were shaking as she re-packed her bag, and slowly, without realising she had begun to cry. She began to move back across the path, trying to keep her head up and focus on a single point in the distance. Her feet still felt unsteady, but she knew she had to push on.

And there it was again, a second whimper.

She moved quicker, this time. If I don’t look, it can’t be real, and it can’t get me. She was thinking silly thoughts now. She was starting to really believe that there was something there. And then it was.

She couldn’t be sure she had definitely seen it. But she was convinced that for the briefest of moments there had been a face peering at her from the church window. Pale and thin and with dark circles for eyes.

Move, move, move, move. She said the mantra to herself now. It was a tattoo that matched her footprints across the grass. Still unsteady although more determined now. And then she stopped.

She couldn’t move. She wanted to yet some greater force had pinned her to that precise spot. Some other entity forced her head around till she was facing the space before the church. Out of all that darkness appeared grotesque silhouettes.

She could see a cruel scaffold take form with a table of tools next to it and the outline of a pyre. And amongst it all she could see a wavering apparition. What should have been a young woman stood not ten feet away from her.

Her immobilised body screamed with pain. She could sense it. All of it. The smell of urine and faeces that coated her form, the throbbing in her skull and hands from thumbscrews and scold’s bridles. The infected pinpricks from the witchfinder’s probing. She could feel the biting of the bonds that held her to the post, the tight hemp wrapped close around her neck, the slow cut of a knife across her abdomen, the slicing and tearing apart of her guts, the lack of oxygen as she fought to breath and break free, her lungs heaving, the explosions of light as consciousness started to fade. The roar of a crowd and the sounds of a fire being started, the crackle as flames began to take hold and eagerly leap about. And then the smell of burning, human flesh, sulphurous and dirty. Acrid. It hit her nostrils and she tried to gag. Acid burned through what was left of her being.

The girl was still in front of her. At least, what had been left of her. Her form was now twisted and contorted. The back hunched and shrivelled up on itself, the hands and feet clawed, and the knees and elbows drawn in to almost a foetal position. The blackened scalp was all that was left there. Her dress hung off her in smouldering tatters and some of it had fused fibres with the skin.

It was impossible to describe the skin.

The shape stayed there for a heartbeat or two, then simply disappeared.

The images were burned into her mind forever. She had witnessed a memory, an outline, an imprint from the past. And she knew then that the malignant spirit or the ghost or the girl or whatever she was didn’t want anything bad. She just wanted out, to stop reliving the same nightmare of pain over and over again.

The girl slowly, dazedly, pulled herself together. she breathed a deep sigh, in and out. Then carefully made her way back home.

taken from http://sarahannelawless.com/2010/04/16/the-witches-reel/

Discursive/Persuasive essay – part 2

Battling Bad Behaviour

Miley Cyrus bends over in front of the camera, bum wagging and tongue protruding. It’s an image that has been photographed and shown again and again in various newspapers and online articles. Many would slate Miley for the way she behaves and the image she promotes, shouting out for change in the way she projects herself. However, the problem is actually two-fold. First of all, Miley, and the rest of her crew, do have a responsibility to behave sensibly and show an awareness of the influence they have over young girls. In addition though, the media need to stop promoting and endorsing these behaviours as somehow glamorous or cool and instead push to the front those women who do act in a positive light and set a positive example.

Part of the problem is that the likes of Miley and Rihanna have a heavy teenage (and tweenage) following. When they were younger, their images were bubbly and fun compared with their current edgier incarnations. Cyrus started out as Hannah Montana, a sweet TV character whose popularity is proven by the shows five year run on American (and British) television. Her fame is further proven by the huge brand this lone TV character created. Merchandise was produced including stationary, dolls and clothing. Little girls wanted to be Hannah Montana and they continued to eagerly follow Miley’s career, probably expecting more of the saccharine Hannah. Instead, they were confronted with a twerking, tongue-poking celebrity. Similarly, Rihanna started out with a sugary sweet image – one of her first biggest hits was the super-chipper Umbrella which saw her twirl her way across our screens and The New York Times magazine even went so far as to give her the label Cookie-Cutter Teen Queen in 2009. Quite a contrast then with later hits like S & M, with its highly sexualised lyric content. It is not right to criticise Miley Cyrus and Rihanna for their actions in themselves but there is a problem when young girls are being exposed to behaviours, images and actions that they are not old enough to fully contextualise yet.

This leads into the next point. These women often dress in a way that is overly sexualised and encourages the objectification of women. There have been a spat of award ceremonies recently, and whilst the majority of celebrities turn up rather nattily attired, there are a select group who seem to go out of their way to dress as controversially – and presumably as sexily – as possible. If we look at our two favourite offenders again we see that Rihanna and Miley attend numerous award ceremonies and fashion shows where there is an abundance of flesh on display, and most of it is theirs. For a New York Fashion Week event, Rihanna, ever on the cutting edge of fashion, appeared to forget both her trousers and her top, wearing only her lingerie and a sparkly blazer accessorized with some strappy stilettos and a man. Yes, this was a fashion event where things are a bit quirky and different but why was it okay for her to go out into the streets like that? It’s unsuitable as well though because it detracts from their actual work and good deeds. Cyrus turned up at the amfAR LA Inspiration Gala, at which she also donated a whopping $500,000 to help fight AIDs. Yet it was her generous show of skin rather than her generous donation that was picked up on by the majority of the press. She had turned up wearing a bondage styled dress, which criss-crossed her torso leaving little to the imagination. What should have been reported on in this instance was her giving nature not what nature had given her.

Not content to just appear inappropriately attired, often at such public events these celebrities do nothing to vet their inappropriate behaviour, in fact in some instances they seem almost proud of it. In this country we have a glut of minor celebrities made famous through reality shows. In July this year three members of the Made in Chelsea cast were embroiled in a drugs scandal. Their photo appeared on their social media pages and appeared to show drug paraphernalia on the table behind them and it was heavily suggested that Binky and her cohort of fillies had been indulging in illegal substances . Everything about the way it was covered and then brushed away suggests that there was nothing wrong with their behaviour.
Even these celebrities self-promotion can be bad. To return to our favourite once more, Miley Cyrus crouches down in her webpage, grabbing her crotch whilst sticking her tongue out. What a lovely image to present to the world. There’s a second shot of her wearing what appears to be bondage gear and a third image shows her topless with bits of chicken edited over the top to keep her dignity (although the presence of cartoon chicken drumsticks might suggest it had already left some time ago). All this does is demonstrate to our children and young people that this type of behaviour is accepted or even worse, a nice way to behave. Yes, all of this is part of their image, their brand, but why would you want to make out that you are nothing more than something akin to a Barbie doll to be propped up in daft positions with nothing but fluff filling up the space usually given over to a brain?

There are other role models who should be promoted such as actresses and athletes. And this is perhaps where we see the media’s role in all this best. Jessica Ennis, Victoria Pendleton, Rebecca Addlington and Nicola Adams all exemplify a healthy and driven lifestyle. These young women are ambitious and reached out to achieve their dreams. Instead of focusing on this the media instead chose to focus on Miss Addlington’s weight issues or Miss Pendleton’s vanishing thighs during her stint on Strictly. There are actresses like Jennifer Lawrence, Emma Watson or Emma Stone who also create a positive image to follow. Jennifer Lawrence regularly discusses positive body image, Emma Watson has spoken out about equal rights for all and Emma Stone chooses roles that give a positive message – look at her role in ‘The Help’ where her character contributes towards the civil rights movement in America. It’s difficult to see or hear any of this though behind the excited chatter at Lawrence’s hacked nude photos, or whispered speculations at Stone’s relationship status. The media needs to stop focusing on women for just their appearance or outlandish behaviour and show that what women do should be counted.

So how do we counter act this? It’s going to be a battle on two fronts and yes it will take some time. But we would ask that these starlets think about what persona they project into the stratosphere and what they are vicariously encouraging young folk to do. And we would also like to see the media think about how they present these tales to the world.

Word count:1, 174


Discursive/Persuasive Writing (part 1)

(taken from http://guardianlv.com/2013/09/miley-cyrus-burned-by-winner-of-win-a-date-with-miley-cyrus-contest/)

Discursive writing makes up part of the folio at both National 5 and Higher level. it can earn you up to 15% of your final grade and so obviously it is well worth putting time and effort into this part of the course – especially as if you do it well, then that is 15% of the course you don’t have to worry about after it is sent off. Discursive writing will look at both sides of the argument before deciding on a stance whereas persuasive writing tends to come down heavier on one side of the argument throughout.

1) The first thing you need to do is to pick a topic – there are loads of them out there! Some of the ones that are traditionally used include ‘should abortion be allowed?’ and ‘Should cannabis remain illegal?’ If you want to make yours stand out try and pick a topic that you think no one else will be using and try going for something that is current and topical. If you find yourself getting stuck try flipping through some of the newspapers or looking at them online as most new articles are shaped around a persons opinion or view on something and they are forming an argument to persuade you to their opinion.
For the purposes of this piece I’m going to say that my discussion will focus on how the media needs to stop promoting female celebrities are bad role models.

2) Now I have decided on my main discussion I need to come up with sub-arguments. These will form the focus point in each of my paragraphs and will show that I have formulated a clear line of thought and have reasoned through the debate. My final piece is going to be a persuasive piece so I’m going to focus mainly on the bad points. Because this is just an example, I’ve only focused on four sub-arguments but yours should feature at least five or six.
* They start out with a young following because of their initial target market
* They are overly sexualised which encourages us to objectify women
* They do not hide their worst behaviours
*There are other role models who should be promoted – Jessica Ennis,

3) Now I have decided on my sub-arguments I need to find evidence that will back this up. I will look at this in more detail and analyse it so it supports my answer. The evidence could take the form of statistics, quotes or anecdotes and it can be lifted from a variety of sources – newspapers, internet pages or people you have spoken to. Some consideration should be given to the reliability of your source – You want to know that the information you are taking is true. Oh, and remember to keep a log of your sources.

If I look at my first bullet point again, I need something that shows these celebrities are capturing an audience at a young age. Hannah Montanah is a good example of this. Hannah Montanah is a TV series that ran from 2006 to 2011 starring Miley Cyrus. (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0493093/) The TV show became hugely popular and began its own brand of merchandising including stationary, dolls and clothing (http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=hannah+montana+doll&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Ahannah+montana+doll). Both these points demonstrate that Hannah Montanah had a young target market which I will develop further later.

For my next point I want to talk about how certain female celebrities appear over-sexualised in the media. For this I’m going to look at some recent images of Rihanna and Miley which show them attending award ceremonies and fashion shows and there is an abundance of flesh on display. One shows Miley Cyrus dressed in very little (http://metro.co.uk/2013/11/10/mtv-emas-another-awards-ceremony-another-outrageous-outfit-by-miley-cyrus-4181523/) During New York Fashion Week, Rihanna showed up scantily clad yet again (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2746598/Rihanna-takes-underdressed-new-level-New-York-Fashion-Week-Altuzarra-show.html). The evidence here is photographic and I can look in further detail at how these women’s clothing choices support my point about women being over-sexualised in their dress choices.

My third point was to look at how they exemplify their worst behaviours. In this country we have a glut of minor celebrities made famous through reality shows. In July this year three members of the Made in Chelsea cast were embroiled in a drugs scandal (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2681793/Made-Chelsea-trio-drugs-tweet-scandal-Binky-Louise-Jamie-pictured-table-covered-drug-paraphernalia-Independence-Day-party-New-York.html). everything about the way it was covered and then brushed away suggests that there was nothing wrong with their behaviour.

My fourth point was that other females should be promoted for their positive messages. Jessica Ennis, Victoria Pendleton, Rebecca Addlington and Nicola Adams all exemplify a healthy and driven lifestyle (http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/olympics/18913924). There are actresses like Jennifer Lawrence, Emma Watson or Emma Stone who also create a positive image to follow. Jennifer Lawrence discusses positive body image, Emma Watson has spoken out about equal rights for all and Emma Stone chooses roles that give a positive message – look at her role in ‘The Help’ where her character contributes towards the civil rights movement in America.

4) So I’m almost ready to start writing my main piece. I’ve considered my main argument, I’ve plotted my sub-arguments and I’ve collected evidence to back up what I’m saying. At this point I would probably re-organise my notes, either on a sheet of paper or a word document, so I could see the order in which all this information is going. I now need to start thinking about my narrative style. Am I going to be really formal? do I want to sound scathing? would it be appropriate to sound a bit more informal and use slang terms?

As a last point, I also need to think about how I am going to frame this essay. What am I going to say in my introduction that will catch a reader’s attention whilst making clear to them the argument I am discussing and my stance on it. What will I say in my conclusion to leave my reader thinking and show my stance once more.

Take a look at part 2 to see how the discursive essay turned out. Part 3 gives you a bank of words to use in putting your essay together.


Some of you still seem to be struggling with note-taking and organising your own work. This a really important skill you need to have in order to make sure you are not plagiarising (lifting someone else’s work). In this post we will look at how to take notes from a source before using these notes to write your own paragraph. The important thing is to scan through for the specific bits of information you need and adapt the information to suit your purpose.

In the first example, a student was looking into the origins of the gaming company Rockstar North in order to see how this company has affected Scotland and represents us.

The original paragraph was taken from Wikipedia and read:

DMA Design was founded in 1988 by David Jones in Dundee, Scotland, whose first employee was Mike Dailly followed by Russell Kay and Steve Hammond. The name DMA was taken from the Amiga programming manuals (where it stood for Direct Memory Access) and the initials were later ‘retrofitted’ so that they briefly stood for Direct Mind Access (DMA was also jokingly referred to as “Doesn’t Mean Anything” by a company founder). In 1988 DMA signed with UK label Psygnosis and developed Menace and Blood Money – side-scrolling space shooters which gained attention from gamers and critics for both their high-quality presentation and difficulty. As with all the company’s early games, Menace and Blood Money debuted on the Amiga, one of the leading platforms for video games in Europe between the late 1980s and the early 1990s. A Commodore 64 port was published immediately after, later followed by DOS and Atari ST versions.

I’m looking for information here on Rockstar North’s history, how it became successful and any points that relate specifically to Scotland. The notes I would take from this are
• DMA designs set up in 1988
• David Jones
• Dundee, Scotland
• First three employess Mike Dailly, Russell Kay, Steve Hammond
• Direct Memory Access > Direct Mind Access
• Menace and Blood Money – side-scrolling space shooters were seen as enjoyable, high quality and challenging.

We take these notes and we turn it into a new paragraph that covers the same main points as the original but it shares little of the same sentence structure or wording.

The foundations of Rockstar North were laid in the late 1980’s when David Jones set up DMA Designs in his hometown of Dundee. His company grew to inculde Mike Dailly, Russell Kay and Steve Hannond in 1988. The title of the company allegedly came from the anagram Direct Mind Access (a computer programming term). It was later changed to Direct Mind Access and an employee would later koke that it stood for Doesn’t Mean Anything. The first games produced by this small Scottish company were Menace (1988) and Blood Money (1989). These received high critical acclaim within a short space of time due to their difficulty level which gamers felt set an appropriate level of challenge and the high quality presentation.

A second example of note-taking looks at the Scottish sit-com Still Game and how it was established in Scotland’s culture. The original passage reads:

Still Game is a Scottish comedy, produced by The Comedy Unit with the BBC. The show was created by Greg Hemphill and Ford Kiernan, who also play the lead characters Jack Jarvis and Victor McDade two Glaswegian pensioners. Following its debut episode on the 1st of September 2002 forty-four episodes of Still Game were aired including the Christmas and New Year’s Eve specials. The first three series of the show were shown only on BBC One Scotland, however, the five episodes that compiled from the first two series were then later broadcasted throughout Britain on BBC Two in January to February 2004. All of the subsequent episodes received UK-wide broadcasts on BBC Two.

The notes that would be taken are:
• Scottish comedy
• Produced by The Comedy Unit for the BBC
• Created by Greg Hemphill and Ford Kiernan
• Jack jarvis and Victor McDade are the main characters

Notes that are added in from elsewhere include:
• There are six series altogether
• Set in the fictional Craiglang about two old men
• Teddy Jamieson of The Herald said it ‘paints [Scotland] in broad strokes’

This then becomes:
Still Game is a Scottish sit-com produced by The Comedy Unit for the BBC. Still Game was created by Ford Kiernan and Greg Hemphill who also play the lead characters who are Glaswegian pensioners. The series began on the 1st September 2002 and ran for 44 episodes (this included 6 series and a Christmas and Hogmany specials). Still Game is set in Craiglang however, the Maryhill district is one one of the famous filming locations of Still Game. As episodes went on the figures gradually grew. Teddy Jamieson a television critic for The Herald said the comedy “paints [Scotland] in broad strokes”