Exam Focus – AQA English Language Paper 1 Question 5
Write an Interesting Story Opening or Vivid Description Based on the Cowboy Picture
You will have a choice of writing about a picture prompt or a story title.
Descriptive writing or narrative writing (story style). This question is worth 40 marks (16 for technical accuracy and 24 marks for content and organisation).
The writers’ craft can be challenging and very difficult to master properly. Here are some tips and examples of how to write effectively by creating diverse story styles and genres.
Below are five examples of possible story openings. They all incorporate different genres, tenses and styles to create a distinct effect on the reader.
You can use these examples to inspire your own creative juices and story writing techniques or you can annotate the texts to highlight and comment on the effect of their literary features including: – onomatopoeia, sentence structure, alliteration, metaphor, simile, personification, abstract nouns, adjectives, TAT, narrative style, telegraphic sentence, complex sentence, techniques of suspense and tension.
- embrace using the 5 senses to inject life into your writing. By appealing to your reader’s senses you will ignite your inner creative flame as your reader becomes more closely involved with your story/description.
- use imagery – similes, metaphors, personification. Imagery helps transport your reader to your setting or engage with a character, building, object, place or atmosphere. Vivid imagery adds depth, interest and a visual stimulus for your readers by attracting their attention to specific images, words and details.
- images, words and colours capture our imagination by creating certain associations and connotations.
First Person Using the Present Tense
Fear gripping me … alone, with only terror for company, my stomach twisting tensely into tight knots. An ancient, lone Joshua Tree with gnarled tentacles for branches stands motionless as a statue. Rising up from the bowels of the desert sand whoops and whirls around me. Am I sinking? Is the sand taking me under? The storm is advancing.
The arid taste engulfs me. Sand filling my eyes, ears, nostrils, as a million tiny particles claw at my face. Drifts begin to form, encircling me into a whirling vortex – escape is impossible. This storm is different! This storm is alive!
Third Person Using the Past Tense
A flash of fire! Streaked across the sky was a silver ribbon of moonlight – exquisitely illuminating the deep, dark desert below. By night the desert became a cavern of secrets. A solitary silhouette emerged from the hollow monochrome horizon. Exhausted, bruised, burdened – both horse and rider slowly come into view. The golden glome of twilight vanished completely as the rider dismounted his steed, and wearily prepared for nighttime. The vast desert skyline spread out before them: miles and miles of sand at every turn of the compass. An ebony tarpaulin shrouded the lone pair for a moment as night descended, revealing a dazzling cluster of stars. Paralysed, they stood in sheer awe, as they surveyed the breathtaking spectacle – their eyes filling up – both bedazzled and bejeweled.
Ghost Tale Genre
Whip, crack, snap – a rush of blood to the head – we found ourselves standing bolt upright – we had been warned …
We had never believed the tale – that was until one night! One night that would change our lives forever. Stories told of a lone ghost cowboy who only appeared once a year – but never on the same date, so you couldn’t predict or prepare for his coming. Local folk referred to him by many names but we knew him by his lasso. Rumours warned that if you saw his lasso it was already too late – to avoid capture you would have to hear it first – then RUN! As fast and as far as you could. The sound survivors described was a wild, whipping whirring as the lasso circled, whirled and whizzed through the air – that signaled the moment to RUN …
Third Person Past Tense Adventure Genre
After a long day at the Rocky Rodeo Seamus and his majestic horse Desert Wind were ready for bed. The day was brimming with dreams come true; the day had brought both victory and defeat for the handsome duo, as their unique rodeo act had won them many spoils including $5000 in cash, a new harness and show saddle and a ticket to Las Vegas. But now all they wanted was a warm bed and the comforting glow of a camp fire and a simple supper. Seamus shivered – the chill of night descending quickened his pace as he gazed out across the cactus lining up against the blank blue horizon. His mind was full of questions.
Using the Second Person Narrative
You see a light. Dim at first, but gradually coming into view, you can make out silhouettes, they are shaped like flames. Feeling calm, you try to speak, but you are silenced. Darting bursts of light fill the air – shooting stars welcome you into their desert home. Your new lunar landscape is unfamiliar, alien, lonely but you feel strangely safe and familiar.
There is no danger whatsoever.
Suddenly, sprouting up from the endless wasteland, palm trees greet you with their fresh green delight, their fronds waving and beckoning you to enter their lush realm – a place of water, refreshment, comfort, rest and peace. You have entered the space and time of the desert oasis … camels turn their stately heads to cast a casual glance at you. You are home at last.