Introduction to 11 plus (11+) creative writing examples
This article will cover three poor examples of creative writing with explanations for why and how they need to be improved and three excellent examples adapted from the same classic texts with explanations for what works well. We hope you will find these examples useful for guiding your child to understand some of the generalised do’s and don’ts of creative writing.
Example 1: Treasure Island
Example 1: Adapted from Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
“I remember this guy as if it were yesterday. I heard somebody nock on my door and there was a man standing their whistling to himself and he had a scar and was wearing a coat and he was whistling and then he started singing this song which was pretty good.”
What to improve:
- Not very descriptive – no adjectives are used to create a more visual picture of ‘the guy’/’a man’.
- Silly SPAG errors – ‘nock’ should be ‘knock’ & ‘their’ should be ‘there’, there should be a comma as such in the following phrase ‘then after he was whistling, he was singing’ – always read your text over again to make sure you haven’t accidentally made a spelling, punctuation, or grammatical mistake.
- Too many connectives – avoid using too many connectives (i.e. ‘and then…and then…and then…’) unless you are trying to create a particular effect, e.g. to show a character is very excited and cannot stop speaking, use punctuation instead to break up the sentence otherwise the sentence may be difficult to follow.
“I remember him as if it were yesterday, as he came plodding to the inn door, pulling along his chest in a barrow behind him — a tall, strong, heavy, brown man, his pigtail falling over the shoulder of his soiled blue coat, his hands ragged and scarred, with black, broken nails, and a white scar cutting across one cheek. I remember him whistling to himself as he did so and then breaking out into an old sea song that he sang so often afterwards.”
What works well:
- Good use of adjectives – Adjectives such as ‘tall’, ‘strong’, ‘ragged’, and ‘scarred’ are used here to paint a vivid picture of the character, which the reader can easily visualise.
- Description of multiple senses – The writer describes what they saw (i.e. the visual depiction of the sailor) and what they heard (i.e. the whistling and singing) to help the reader better relate to the scene with their own senses.
Example 2: A Christmas Carol
Example 2: Adapted from A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
“He was a really cold person and he had a weird face. He walked funny and his eyes and lips were weird and cold. He had a voice that was scratchy cause he was cold. His head, eyebrows and chin had like, a cold thing on them. He was cold all the time, even when it was like super hot.”
What to improve:
- Lack of variation in adjectives – ‘cold ‘ and ‘weird’ are repeated too much in this paragraph; using a variety of adjectives can help show off your vocabulary knowledge.
- Limited range of sentence starters – Most sentences begin with ‘He’; try to create varied sentences to showcase the versatility of your writing skills.
- Too informal – Avoid using informal words like ’cause’ instead of ‘because’ and unnecessarily using words such as ‘like’, ‘really’, ‘super’, and ‘thing’ unless you are doing so intentionally, e.g. using it in a speech dialogue to show a character’s way of speaking, as it may suggest to a reader that your writing skills are not polished.
“The cold within him froze his features, nipped his pointed nose, shrivelled his cheek, stiffened his gait, made his eyes red, his thin lips blue, and his voice grating. A frosty rime was on his head, eyebrows, and wiry chin. He carried his own chilliness around with him; he iced his office on hot days and did not thaw it at Christmas.”
What works well:
- The play on word meanings – The writer makes a connection between the cold personality of the character and the actual physical cold of winter; the play on the two meanings of cold here helps to exaggerate how cruel and unfriendly the character is in a more dramatic way than simply saying he was cruel and unfriendly.
- Use of advanced vocabulary – Words like ‘shrivelled’, ‘rime’, and ‘thaw’ help showcase your knowledge of advanced vocabulary by putting it into the correct context.
Example 3: The Wind in the Willows
Example 3: Adapted from The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
“It was Spring. His house was small. Also, it was sad. He put down his brush. Said I have to go. And he left. He forgot his coat. He just went out.”
What to improve:
- Limited range of sentence lengths – Creating varied sentences is not only about using a range of sentence starters but also a range of sentence lengths. Short sentences can suggest urgency, and longer sentences can suggest a journey. However, too many short sentences can limit your use of description and sentence structures using different punctuation, making your story seem dull or broken up into too many pieces. In contrast, too many long sentences can be unnecessarily wordy and complicated for a reader to follow. Generally, it is good to include both sentence types in your story to give your writing a sense of pace and flow.
“Spring was moving in the air above and in the earth below and around him, penetrating even his dark and lowly little house. It was a small wonder that he suddenly flung his brush down on the floor, said ‘Bother!’ and ‘O blow!’ and also ‘Hang spring-cleaning!’ and bolted out of the house without even waiting to put on his coat.”
What works well:
- The use of a literary device – In the phrase beginning ‘Spring was moving…’, personification gives life to spring to create a hopeful atmosphere, as spring symbolises new life, which connotes hope. This amplifies spring’s positive power in the story to brighten sad, dark spaces.
- The sense of movement – In this paragraph, both Spring and the main character are in motion. Verbs like ‘moving’ and ‘penetrating’ create a sense of movement that can propel an adventure story forward. The listing of ‘and’ with interjections of short speech dialogue and the lengthy sentence are used intentionally here to show the main character’s urgency to move. Consider how you want to create an atmosphere of stillness or action in your story.
Examberry Children's Classics Collection
If you found this exercise helpful, you may be interested in our Examberry Children’s Classics Collection of reading workbooks, which you can find through our sister site, Examberry Papers, here. The collection includes Treasure Island, A Christmas Carol, and The Wind in the Willows.
11+ Creative Writing Course
If you sign up for our 11+ Creative Writing Course, your child will receive personalised feedback on their creative writing from 11+ experts via our Homework Portal. The course starts this October 2023. Book now to secure your child’s place!