I am going to use Amy’s question to me today on mail as a quick double fold lesson:

First lesson: Please use the blog to post questions: if you are thinking it – chances are others are also thinking it. There are no such things as silly questions (for me) in English ever. I want to know everything.

Amy’s question was as follows, which is in effect  leads to the second lesson:

Hi Bronwyn,

I’m working on the narrative.
I just have a question, as I suddenly have writer’s block 😦
How can I incorporate the quote into my ‘story’?  I can quite easily write with the photo in mind, and try creating a story around that, but the quote throws me a bit!
And advice or suggestions that can maybe help or steer me in a direction?
I’ve decided to write in a WW1 situation! 🙂


 On a Skype lesson today with another Aimee, (who is only following the blog) – we discussed this very statement as per Amy T’s mail. Although I wanted to see whether you (plural – all of you) could actually interpret what is required – I will none-the-less assist:

At AS level, we step up a level – in fact we don’t step – we take a massive leap, if you mistime your footing you plunge to your death. Of course, I mean this metaphorically, but my point is thus: Cambridge expects that you can ‘’see’’ and interpret the clues within a writing question. So, if you look at the quote and the picture, what are the clues?

Let’s determine what we know from the requirement, without a picture or quote:

You know: this is a Narrative Style – this is a Narrative writing piece. Now, what do you remember with regard narrative, very basically? A) Plot b) character c) setting d) narrative viewpoint

So, whereto from here?

Take a closer look at a-d; which points are central to the picture and quote?

a)character/s and b) narrative viewpoint

Ahhh, so I can see character in the pic and Wilde speaks of a man (singular or plural it makes no difference) which  means you MUST under all circumstances make characters central to the story

Now you ask yourself: Do I remember what to incorporate as aspects of characterisation:

1) Physical characteristics (cool, I have a pic for that)

2) Actions and behaviours (I need to think about that and use my imagination as the picture is static) and

3) Thoughts – characters think – they have internal thoughts (which create a tone and tell me more about the characters mind) and perhaps some utterances to or from a second or third character to gain further insight into the characters

So, now I know: this is a character narrative and NOT a setting piece (a setting piece would involve descriptive writing and that is not what is required here – Thus, lesson two – always determine – Character versus Setting narrative – it will make the difference between an A symbol and writing off style which equals: ungraded.

The second aspect that can be considered is narrative perspective or viewpoint – are you are going to write as though you are the main character – first person ‘’I’’ narrative – or third person – ‘’he/she’’ narrative?It makes no difference for the sake of this piece. If it were me, however, I’d probably stick to Wilde’s use of you (plural) and write from third person, to create congruency between quote and picture.

Next consideration: what is the common denominator or similarity between picture and quote?

For me two things: 1) mask – used literally and metaphorically and 2) truth (it can be anything that you perceive as congruent) but these two are quite obvious

I now have:

A character or characters; from a narrative perspective within a story; based on masks and truth.

Truth is an ambiguity – you can create a metaphorical truth of or for a character – or you can create a literal truth. To create a word pattern or word bank for the  characters and the idea of truth within the confines of a mask would help:

The words I associate with truth are:

Exposed, Lie, fallacy, secret, allusive, elusive, pure, victim, innocent etc – if I look at this thought pattern – I could well create a suspense/ thriller piece – well why not? Go for it…and it fits in with the picture…

You see writers block is very easily quelled by a basic process, 1) what style is it –  Narrative 2) Focus: Characters and viewpoint 3) what is similar 4) what is my pattern of events and thus the words that i will use based on that which is similar…

So Amy, WW1 is perfect – let me feel the characters unfold the suspense based on their actions, behaviours, thoughts and physical attributes…