Literature

Score 10/10 on the reflective commentary

by
Elly Twomey

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It’s getting closer to the Literature exam and you’re probably starting to get more serious about avoiding dropping too many SAC marks! Depending on which order your school does Literature SACs in, you may be currently facing the often feared ‘Creative Response’. Whether you feel beyond excited to finally bring some creative flair to Literature, or you’re totally scared at the thought of creating something new, I wanted to use this blog post to help you achieve at least ten of the marks in this section. That is through the reflective commentary, which you can totally score full marks on if you put in the effort.

The VCAA Literature Study Design determines that students must submit ‘a reflective commentary establishing connections with the original text’. This aspect of the assessment counts for 10 of the 60 marks available for the Creative Response outcome. The study design further denotes that students must

‘reflect critically upon their own responses as they relate to the text, and discuss the purpose context of their creations’.

This allows your schools and teachers to direct in a relatively broad way on how you should form your reflective commentary, and may mean your friends at other schools write theirs in a very different way. In this blog post I will leave you with a suggestion of how I best believe a reflective commentary could be structured to include all important aspects, as well as tips on how to include all of what the study design asks. As I said, these are ten marks that can easily be snatched with just a little bit of hard work and attention to detail, so why not snatch them?

To induce the things needed to be included in the reflective commentary, we can look to the key knowledge and key skills points outlined in the study design:

Key knowledge:

-the point of view, context and form of the original text-the ways the central ideas of the original text are represented-the features of the original text including ideas, images characters and situations, and the language in which these are expressed-techniques used to create, recreate or adapt a text and how they represent particular concerns or attitudes.

Key skills:

-identify elements of construction, context, point of view and form particular to the text, and apply understanding of these in a creative response-choose stylistically appropriate features including characterisation, setting, narrative, tone and style-critically reflect on how language choices and literary features from the original text are used in the adaptation

What you’re really trying to do in your reflective commentary is prove to your teacher that you are hitting all these key knowledge and key skills points. As you write, ensure you are discussing how the author uses point of view, context, form, elements of construction and stylistic features in their text. It is than imperative that you describe how you have similarly used such device in your creative response. Ensure that you also discuss how you are involving the ideas and themes of the text in your creative piece, and how you are discussing them further, or exploring them in greater depth. Obviously only talk about those that are relevant to your creative response!

Sample reflective commentary

Having scored a 10/10 in my own reflective commentary, I will provide a structure that can be used to ensure you are including everything you need. I discussed my own reactions to the original text, and described how I wanted to rouse similar reactions in the reader of my creative response.

In your reflective commentary, it can be easier to put everything under subheadings. These are the ones that I used:

-Purpose-Title-Setting-Characterisation-Structure-Narration-Literary features (here I chose 7 particular literary features used in my text and discussed how I emulated them)-Motifs

Under each of these paragraphs, I analysed how the author used such features to create and convey meaning, and discussed how I, in my own piece, drew on her use of them and expanded on her ideas. Here is an example of my ‘Purpose’ paragraph, which will hopefully give you an idea on how you might write your own commentary! My text was Cate Kennedy’s Dark Roots, in particular the short story ‘What Thou and I Did, Till we Loved’.

Purpose

In my piece, I ultimately attempted to lead the reader to a place of discomfort, faced with a situation that they wish never to be faced with. When I first read What Thou and I Did, Till we Loved (Dark Roots, Cate Kennedy), I simply wished never to be in Rebecca’s position, as I was sobered by the sadness of her demise as she watched her lover fade away. I sought to elicit the same response from the reader, as I aimed to convey the deterioration that both lovers suffer, as well as the loss of communication between them. I also attempted to allow the reader to question the humanity in keep people alive by machines and drugs, and whether it is fair to force people to live an unnatural life. I have sought to explore this even further than What Thou and I Did, Till we Loved bringing in the question of euthanasia and whether we have a right to die as Kyle begs of Max to “kill me” at the end of the piece, and Max concedes that “[he] would if [he] could”. The themes of my piece seeks to explore are the ways of coping with grief, guilt at causing the illness of a loved one, a life with a lack of substance, and the loss of communication due to illness.

Hopefully you’re feeling better about how you might go about completing your creative response, and getting that 10/10 on your reflective commentary!

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