Part 10: How to Write Creatives in Year 10 | Short Story Checklist

We will identify the main areas you need to focus on in Year 10, to bring your creative writing to the next level.

Are you writing creatives but still wondering why you can’t get good marks? Well, you might be overlooking some important aspects that teachers are looking for! We are here to show you how to write creatives in Year 10  with a checklist that will make sure you capture your readers, every time.

Creative writing should be fun, but it often makes students anxious.

Why? Because students often don’t understand what makes a good narrative or what the process for writing a story is.

So, to help you ace your creative writing, we’ve put together a checklist so you can make sure you tick all of the boxes!


What is in this article?


However, when you learn how to write creatives in Year 10, you will notice that there are a lot of new things you need to do.


How to write creatives in Year 10 | Short Story Checklist

By now, you would have had experience writing some creatives.

To help you keep improving we’re going to give you a list and then break each point down in detail.

Let’s see what you need to do to ace your creatives:

1. Planning – Who, what, when, how, why
2. Genre – Choose your style of narrative – action, romance, drama.
3. Drafting – Produce the first draft
4. Context – Develop setting: place, time, etc
5. Characters – Develop characters and show their relationships with others
6. Themes – Develop your themes
7. Symbols – Incorporate symbols and motifs to develop your themes and characters
8. Techniques – Include techniques, make sure you show and don’t tell!
9. Polish – Seek feedback and revise. Never submit a first draft or a second!

So, why do we need to do this?


Bring your English skills to the next level!

With our Year 10 English course, you can learn and practice key English skills to ace your English exams.



Why do we have to write creatives in High School?

Many people write creatives so they can express themselves, share ideas or simply, learn new skills.

Although this may apply to some students, many students learn how to write creatives in Year 10 because they have to.

Writing creatively allows you to understand how poets and authors produce their texts. For example, it is far easier to understand how a metaphor creates meaning after you’ve created your own metaphor to convey an idea.

So, what are you trying to improve by becoming a better creative writer?.


You practise processes of representation to learn how to analyse representation

When you analyse texts, you are looking at REPRESENTATION.

Think about it.

You find meaning in techniques, structure and form and see how effective the composer is at conveying their message. Read this article on How to Analyse Texts in Year 10 to give yourself a reminder.


Essentially, when you learn how to write creatives in Year 10, you are putting your knowledge of representation (what it is, how it works) into practice!

This is your opportunity to use the techniques, structures and forms you have studied to convey your own meaning.

When you write creatively you learn how to communicate ideas in a more effective ways…. AND your essay analysis improves too!

Once you start practising representation and using literary devices, identifying representation and literary techniques becomes easier. Not only will your creative writing improve, but your essay writing will, too!



You learn about purpose and audience by exploring genres and genre conventions

Writing in a genre will help you learn about developing the purpose of your text and choosing an audience for your writing. This means you can learn how to write for an audience.

But, it also helps you understand how to understand what writers and composers are trying to achieve and figure out who they are writing for!

Do you remember what genre is??

We discussed genre in Part 1 of this Guide.

It’s okay if you’ve forgotten the details, here is a quick refresher.

Genres are categories that determine the type of conflict, setting, characters or plot in a story.

For example, when you hear romance, you think love stories. But, when you hear horror, you think scary monsters and haunted houses.

But, genre dictates more than just content. Genre also determines the form and structure of creative pieces.

For example, a Hero’s Journey will often involve a call to adventure, problem, transformation and return to normal states.


Clearly, genres set expectations for the audience. This means that when audiences see a genre convention in use it helps develop tension.

For example, when you see a creaky door or an isolated cabin in the woods, you know horrible things are coming.

However, some texts challenge genre conventions or even mix genres.

For example, Jordan Peele’s Get Out is a horror AND a comedy movie.

When you write, you want to be aware of genre conventions.


You want to know what should happen to characters and the plot in action-adventure. Following these conventions will help you create meaning. But you can also subvert these expectations.



Creative writing develops your imagination

When you learn how to write creatives in Year 10, you are also developing your imagination!

You imagine your plot, characters, settings and even smaller details like emotions, sounds and tastes. There are endless possibilities!

The beauty of writing lies in showing people what you are imagining in your head.


So, what are the benefits of a good imagination?

  • Problem-solving

When your imagination improves, so does your problem-solving skills.

You begin to approach the situations in different and new ways and imagine the path to your end goal.


  • Empathising with others

Imagination lets you put yourself in other people’s shoes.

As JK Rowling says, “[Imagination] is the power that enables us to empathise with humans whose experiences we have never shared.”

When you empathise, you build stronger relationships and are more willing to help people.


  • Improving creativity

Imagination sparks inspiration and creativity.

When you imagine, you look at things in a new perspective. These thoughts can trigger new ideas that you can use for other creative endeavours.




You get to explore concepts

When you learn how to write creatives in Year 10, you also learn how to effectively explore concepts. Just like authors!

It is always a good idea to explore concepts that are personal, relatable or something you know well.

This includes situations that are similar to your experiences or things that you are passionate about.

This way, your work will seem authentic and you will feel inspired to write the creative piece.

Remember, writing is about sharing and communicating ideas. So, what’s better than sharing ideas that you feel strongly about?


You learn how to understand and effectively use techniques

When you analyse techniques in Year 10, you consider higher-order techniques.

For example, extended metaphors, motifs and symbolism. NOT repetition, alliteration or anaphora.

These are techniques that symbolise ideas and operate across the whole text, as opposed to being an isolated example.

It is the same with creative writing too!

When you learn how to write creatives in Year 10, you need to start using higher-order techniques.

But this doesn’t mean that you ignore the lower order techniques. You still need to use them too!



Now you know why you need to write creatives, let’s go through your detailed checklist for acing your writing creatives.


The Ultimate Year 10 Short Story Checklist

If you want to ace your creatives, here’s what you’ve got to have in them:

1. Planning – Who, what, when, how, why
2. Genre – Choose your style of narrative – action, romance, drama.
3. Drafting – Produce the first draft
4. Context – Develop setting: place, time, etc
5. Characters – Develop characters and show their relationships with others
6. Themes – Develop your themes
7. Symbols – Incorporate symbols and motifs to develop your themes and characters
8. Techniques – Include techniques, make sure you show and don’t tell!
9. Polish – Seek feedback and revise. Never submit a first draft or a second!

Now let’s see how to do it!

✔ 1. Plan and structure your narrative

It is very important that you don’t skip out on planning, because it will help you in the long run.

When you plan, you know what you want to write. So, your writing process will be much more smooth sailing.

At Matrix, students are taught to always plan, draft, edit, get feedback and edit until they produce fully polished work. It’s a process you should adopt if you want to produce consistent, high-quality work.


Matrix Method For English STEP 4 - 7



Here, we’re looking at Step 4 – Planning.

These are some things you need to consider when you plan:

  • Genre – Is it an action, a drama, a romance, or a horror narrative?
  • Character details – Who is your main character? What do they like, dislike, hate, or love? why?
  • Complication – What happens to them? What do they do?
  • Setting – When or where is your story set?
  • Plot – What occurs in the narrative
  • Point of view – Whose perspective is the story told from?
  • Possible motifs, metaphors and symbolism – How will you show and not tell?

To help with you plan this, we’ve prepared a table that you can use as a guide.

Remember, you are free to plan your creatives in whichever method you want. As long as it works best for you.

Let’s take a look at the example:




IntroductionWho are the characters?

How are they introduced?

What is the story’s world?

Introduce conflict

ComplicationWhat is the problem?

How does the protagonist grow?

What are the challenges that occur to the character(s)?

What do they do?

ResolutionHow does the character(s) attempt to resolve the issue?

Do they learn anything?

What actions did they take to resolve the issue?




✔ 2. Choose your genre and genre conventions

We have already discussed what genre and genre conventions are.

When you learn how to write creatives in Year 10, you need to consider genre. Do you remember why?

Because, genres set audience expectations.

They have their own conventions on content, structure, form, plot, characters, settings and so much more!


So, how exactly do you consider genre when you write creatives in Year 10?

  1. Select the genre(s) that relates to your ideas. Think about the storyline, major conflict, character types, setting etc.
  2. Research about it. Be comfortable with their conventions. Take a look at some examples.
  3. Think about your message. This will lead you to the next question.
  4. Ask, do you want to conform to or challenge genre conventions? No option is better than the other. They both serve different purposes. Select the one that will help you best convey your message.
  5. Incorporate genre conventions in your writing. You can choose to use, defy or mix genre conventions here.


Here are some examples of genres and their conventions:

  • Romance: Texts about romantic love between a couple.
  • Science-fiction: Stories with futuristic elements. For example, set in the galaxy or in the future.
  • Horror: A genre involving supernatural elements that are intended to scare its readers.
  • Hardboiled (Crime) Fiction: Narratives that involve detectives and crimes.
  • Historical Fiction: Narratives that fictionalise real historic events or places.


✔ 3. Draft your work

Too often, students write one draft and settle with it.

This is never okay!

Writing strong creative pieces require drafts, some editing, feedback, more drafts, re-editing, more drafts, more edits… You get the point.


Matrix Method For English STEP 5 (2)


So, what exactly are drafts? 

The draft is the first thing you produce when you write creatives in Year 10.

They are imperfect! And that’s the whole point.

In this step, you are simply putting all of your ideas on paper. Don’t overthink it! Just write.


What are some tips to write drafts? 

  • Know what you want to write. You should read over your plan again to remind yourself of your story ideas. You don’t want to forget certain details because it will ruin your writing flow!
  • Don’t overthink, just start writing! The biggest problem when it comes to writing creatives is being afraid to start! You have to sit down and just force yourself to write, no matter how bad it sounds.
  • Don’t edit your work mid-draft! It might be tempting to go back and rewrite sentences, but don’t do this! You will have time to edit your work later. Just focus on writing everything down on paper.
  • Move to another part if you get stuck. Don’t waste 30 minutes trying to word a sentence. Just leave some space and start writing another part! You can always return to that section later.
  • Remember that first drafts can suck. First drafts are meant to be terrible, that’s why they are drafts. Focus on getting them done, not on them being good.



✔ 4. Incorporate context

When you learn how to write creatives in Year 10, you may notice that there is an increased focus on context.


But, what exactly is context?

Context is basically the background that forms an event, idea, or person.

This includes personal, political, religious, environmental, historical, economical contexts and so much more!

When you read texts, you will notice that context plays a large role in shaping the way the text is written.

For example, if the composer is passionate about gender inequality, they might implicitly address this in their creatives.


So, how do you incorporate context when you write creatives in Year 10?

Think about hot-topic issues in society or your personal interests. These can become your ideas or themes that you discuss in your creatives.


Now, think about your setting.

Is it placed in a historic event? Where is your story taking place? What time period?

You want your readers to know your setting. But at the same time… you don’t want to be too explicit about it.

Eg. “It is the Elizabethan era. Rosie is walking through the streets”

Instead, you want to find recognisable signposts that are indicative of your time and place.


For example, The Globe Theatre was built and used during Elizabethan England. It no longer exists. So, you can use it to indicate that your story is set in Elizabethan England.

Let’s rewrite the above sentence using this signpost:

“Rosie walked past The Globe Theatre, coughing from the dusty footpath.”


See? It sounds much nicer and less forced.




✔ 5. Develop characterisation – Build the relationships between characters

Sometimes, students overlook the importance of character relationships when they are learning how to write creatives in Year 10.


Why build relationships to develop character? Let’s look at 3 reasons and strategies:


  • 1. Create a 3-dimensional character

We see different aspects of the protagonist, depending on their relationship with different characters.

For example, a big school bully might be mean to his school mates, but very caring and loving to his family.

This makes our characters more complex and realistic. We see their flaws and redeeming features.


  • 2. Establish conflict 

Some plots are centred around a conflict between characters. Other plots add fire to an existing issue by creating friction between characters.

What we see from this, is that different relationships affect the plot in different ways.


  • 3. Reveal information that is integral to the plot

You can’t write a whole story about one character who suddenly has a grand realisation that will change their life for the better.

Realisations don’t just happen out of thin air. You need a catalyst.

And most of the time, the catalyst is another character in your story.


These are the reasons why it is so important that you develop character relationships in your creatives.





✔ 6. Incorporate themes

You should always think about your intended message when you are learning how to write creatives in Year 10.

Doing this adds complexity and depth to your stories. In other words, good marks!

It is important that you don’t get mixed up between subjects and themes.

Subjects usually refer to a topic, whereas, themes refers to the message about the topic.


So, what are some ways that you can incorporate themes?

  • Complication and plot -What’s the idea or concern behind your plot? What are you trying to say?
  • Character’s motivation – What drives your characters?
  • Character’s realisation at the end of the story – What does the protagonist learn?
  • Relationships between characters – What does the relationship say about the ideas you are interested in?
  • Techniques- Use higher-order technique and figurative language like motifs, symbolism and metaphors to convey your concerns


✔ 7. Incorporate symbols

As we said earlier, symbols are a great way to emphasise and explore your themes.

Basically, when you use symbols you appeal to your reader’s subconscious mind.

Symbols give hints to the reader about the ideas and messages you’re interested in instead of explicitly telling them.

There are a few ways that you can use symbols:

  • Objects that hold universal meaning
    • Eg. Doves represent peace
  • Imagery
    • Eg. Bleak deserted wasteland represents the character’s loneliness and despair

If you want to know more about symbolism and how it works, you should read our Literary Techniques: Symbolism article.


✔ 8. Include and develop your techniques

Now that you’re in Year 10, you need to start incorporating high order techniques in your creatives.

These are techniques like symbolism, extended metaphors and motifs.

They add complexity and depth to your story because it represents more complex ideas and concepts.

Plan the techniques that you want to use before you write!

It is easier to incorporate your motifs as you draft your creative, rather than forcing them in as you edit your work.

However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t techniques them after your first draft!

You should always go back and add more techniques! Both high order and isolated techniques.

But also, don’t forget to keep using isolated techniques like alliteration and repetition.

You should always use a variety of techniques to add more meaning and make your stories more entertaining.




✔ 9. Polish your story

To produce a good quality creative, it has to go through lots of drafts, edits, feedback sessions and more editing.

Too often, students get lazy and stop at their first draft OR they are too afraid to ask people to read their work, so they never get feedback.

This is not good!

You should always have another person read over your work.

They can:

  • Identify your common mistakes
  • Give you a new perspective on your writing
  • Suggest changes


To get feedback, you should:

  • Ask different people to get different perspectives
  • Ask people who can give you constructive feedback, like your school and Matrix teachers and tutors
  • Always be polite
  • Prepare a set of questions, so they know what to focus on
  • Always edit your work after


Matrix Method For English STEP 6 (2)

Matrix Method For English STEP 7 (2)



You can ask for feedback and edit your work as many times as necessary. But remember, you can’t do this forever!

After the 3rd or 4th draft, you need to put your work out there. Remember, teacher feedback in Year 10 is going to make you a better writer for Years 11 and 12!


How do I develop as a writer?

Writing isn’t a born skill. You get better at it by practising your skills and watching others.

So, how can you implement this yourself?



If you want to learn what works and doesn’t work in fiction, see how other people do things. Reading widely and consistently will expose you to a variety of different approaches to writing.


Plagiarism is never acceptable. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t practise writing in the style of your favourite writers.

Write fan-fiction. Take your favourite characters and write them into your own stories. Take your favourite settings or scenarios and write them anew with new characters and events.



Try to spend about 5 to 10 minutes every day just writing freely. This means:

  • No stopping
  • Don’t edit
  • No feedback

The idea is to develop the habit of writing and explore ideas that interest you. Much of it will not be good, but some of it will be outstanding.

You can take the best bits and develop them into new stories.



Make drafting and editing a habit, not an occasional exercise.

Regularly editing and redrafting your work will teach you to stop making the same mistakes. You’ll learn what works for you as a storyteller and writer.


Get feedback

When you write, you write for others as much as, if not more, than you do yourself.

To get better at this, find out what others think of your work. As your friends, parents, or teachers.

Good writers have support networks who help them become better writers.

If you haven’t already, form a writing circle with some of your friends from school or your Matrix classmates.


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