The creative SAC… but I’m not very creative!

When I was in Year 10 my Art teacher assigned a project where we were required to produce a piece of art inspired from an artist that we had researched. The piece had to include elements of their style and we had to justify and explain our creative choices in a written response. Sound familiar? That’s exactly what you essentially need to do for your creative response to a text as one of your first SACs for Unit 3.

What you see above, is the artwork that I completed as a 15-year-old that was inspired by Salvador Dali. I am no artist (obviously) and do not have an artistic bone in my body, yet, I was pretty chuffed with what I produced and my teacher thought it was OK too (mind you I did go to a small high school in a country town, she was probably just happy to have a student hand something in). It didn’t get an A, and that’s fine because to tell you the truth, it isn’t great and I can’t draw for the life of me.

Looking back at this and becoming the person assigning the tasks that students have to do, I can see that there will always be someone who will be excited about writing creatively, and others who will dread it, but we have to allow everyone to show their strengths and others to try to overcome their weaknesses. That’s what this SAC is all about.

It is highly likely that this will be the first SAC that you complete for English this year. Your teachers have most likely assigned the drafting process as part of your holiday homework and you will probably complete it during the first few weeks of term one.

One thing that you need to remember with this response is that you want it to be as original as possible without retelling what has already happened in the text that you’re studying. As this is a SAC that you can fully prepare for it is common that those of you who do struggle tend to find an easy way out of writing this. I have seen students get very upset that they did not achieve the ‘A’ that they thought they would even though they worked really hard on their writing (or their parents/tutor/AI technology did) but if they have not fulfilled all of the criteria, then it may not get the A+ you think it is. I’m not saying that the following advice will get you an A, but at least you will know that you did your best and that the work is authentically yours.

Before you start, or even if you have already started i’ve put together a few things to work through to ensure that when you do write your response you are ready and are on the right track.

  1. Understand the task – Read the study design and the marking criteria. You should have a clear understanding of what you need to do.
  2. Read or watch the text and take down notes on characters, plot, themes, symbols
  3. Watch the film or read the text again and look for the gaps and identify what is missing
  4. Complete a table that explores those gaps (I have included a running sheet that you can download to help you with this)
  5. Pick a point of interest and start planning your ideas. If you have a couple of ideas plan both
  6. Discuss your idea/s with your peers and teacher.
  7. Write a draft, get feedback from your teacher and peers. Rewrite your draft, get more feedback, rewrite and then finalise
  8. Write your statement of explanation (I will go through this further on)

Let’s go through each of these points individually

Understanding the task

  • The key skills from the study design are as follows:
  • – analysing the text, considering opportunities to explore meaning
  • – selecting key moments, characters, themes and ideas worthy of exploration
  • – taking account of the purpose, context, audience in determining the selected content and approach
  • • develop and sustain voice and style in creative responses
  • • transform and adapt language and literary devices to generate particular responses, with consideration of the original text
  • • explain and justify decisions made in the writing process and how these demonstrate understanding of the text
  • • draft, review, edit and refine creative and analytical interpretations to texts for expressiveness, accuracy, fluency and coherence, and for stylistic effect
  • • apply the conventions of spelling, punctuation and syntax of Standard Australian English accurately and appropriately.

Essentially, this means that you need to write a creative piece that responds to the issues, themes, and ideas of the text through a response that reflects the style of the model text studied. Your response needs to be written in a form that reflects these ideas and presents a sustained voice true to the model text.

Understanding the text

You need to show an ability to interpret the ideas, issues, themes, characters and style of the model text that you’re basing your creative response on.

As you are watching or reading the text you should be taking down notes on the key scenes/passages and consider the following

  • What happens to the characters?
  • Where is set and what does the setting look like/how is described?
  • How are the characters described/what are they wearing? What do they say? What particular language or mannerisms do they use (this is the stuff you can include in your writing)?
  • How does the writer/director explore a particular idea?
  • What happens to the minor characters? How do they connect to major characters? What do you want to know about these characters and what happens to them when they’re not there (this is where you can develop your ideas for your original text)?
  • You can download the following document to help you with your planning

Planning and Drafting

  1. Choose one of the gaps in the text that you have identified in your table and start to write down a plan that explores the idea that you have chosen
  2. Choose a form of writing that suits you. You can write a short story, a first-person perspective response exploring the ideas through a character’s point of view, a letter, a news report, etc. Choose a form that you are confident with but remember that it has to reflect that of the model text
  3. Ensure that you do not change the outcome of the text. The events in the text must not change because of what you have written. In previous years I’ve had some very creative responses where the student has gone rogue and it hasn’t worked. Your teacher will tell you if this works or not, but my advice is, to stick to what happens in the text
  4. Don’t rewrite a scene from a different character’s point of view. This will just sound like a retelling of the original but from an alternate perspective.
  5. Choose a minor character to focus on instead of the protagonist, it will allow you to develop some more original ideas
  6. Include quotes, specific language from the text, symbols, structures, setting that the author uses in their text
  7. Seek feedback on your first draft, second and redraft
  8. If it’s not working and the story isn’t going anywhere, choose another idea. Sometimes you just have to let your original idea go even if you have your heart set on it.
  9. Use the checklist documents that you can download to help guide you

Statement of Explanation/Intention

This final piece of writing justifies your creative response and explains how you have incorporated the ideas and structural features of the model text into your writing as well as explaing how your piece fits within the original model text.

This is an important document, but it is important to remember that it is not an essay and does not have to be the length of one. Ensure that you include the following

  1. A brief outline of the text and how the theme that you’re exploring will be presented within your own writing
  2. An outline of what your response is about including the form, character, context and structural features
  3. The purpose of your writing and audience – what is the message that you are presenting in your response?
  4. Use the following planning table to help you plan and structure your statement

Good luck with writing your response and don’t be afraid to change your ideas throughout the process. It is your chance to explore your creative side if this is a strength in this subject, but if it isn’t then choose a form that you are most comfortable with. I am never going to write a novel or a script and I know that writing a short story is not my strength, so I would choose to write a letter or journal or inner monologue because that is what I know I can do well.

Again, don’t rely on someone else to write your piece, you are only cheating yourself and your parents/tutor will be very unhappy if they don’t get the grade they expect. There are benefits to using AI technology and I have been inundated with articles on it on my LinkedIn feed, but for now, just trust this process and be your most authentic self in your writing. This SAC will not define your study score at the end of the year. It forms a small percentage of the overall result, it is not the be-all and end-all, and most importantly is not going to be assessed in the exam. Once you’re done with this, you will never have to write a creative piece for English ever again!! Yay!!

If you have any specific questions, feel free to reach out in the comments or you could email me at ivaroncevic78@gmail.com

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