English & EAL

VCE Creative Writing: How To Structure Your Story

Amber Dwivedi

April 5, 2024

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For a deep dive into the Creative and what it entails, check out our blog post: VCE English Unit 3, Area Of Study 2: Creating Texts - What Is It?

Leo Tolstoy wrote his magnum opus, War and Peace, over the span of six years. It took Harper Lee two and a half years to write To Kill A Mockingbird. Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See took ten years to complete.

The incredibly intricate and complex nature of stories means that it often takes time to fit all the elements in harmony. But for those of you studying VCE English Units 1 and 3, you don’t have the luxury of two or six, let alone ten years to write your Creative. The time constraints you face can mean that it’s harder to put the metaphorical puzzle pieces together. 

Luckily, we can simplify the process for you by breaking down what makes a good story (using Cinderella to demonstrate).

The Skeleton of a Good Story (With Steps!)

In primary school, we were all taught the “beginning-middle-end“ approach to stories. Aside from being kind of vague, this overused approach doesn’t ensure a clear transformation between the “beginning” and the “end“. If nothing changes between the beginning and the end of your story, you have no story.

The skeleton approach is an effective alternative to other forms of story writing because it guarantees that your character has fundamentally changed by the end. Think of the following as criteria when you write your Creative - if you have (even slightly) addressed all of the following aspects, you can be sure you’ve written a story worth telling (and a Creative that’s going to score highly).

1) The Status Quo

Most stories feature a main protagonist, and your Creative piece should too! This is the main character who is in a zone of comfort/familiarity with some obvious shortcoming. This shortcoming can be a character flaw or something in the setting. This is Cinderella: she is used to her ordinary life in her small house, with her shortcoming being that she’s a servant to her evil stepsisters.

2) The Want

Additionally, your character has to want something (or at least, think that they want that thing). Since your time is limited, keep the desire simple. For instance, Cinderella’s main desire is to escape her life of servitude and be supported.

3) The New Situation

After you have established the character’s “want”, your character has to enter an unfamiliar situation that addresses their shortcoming. Continuing the example of Cinderella, this unfamiliar situation is the royal ball, which offers her the chance to marry the prince and live with him instead.  

4) The Plan

After the new situation is presented, the character must carry out a plan to get what they want, be it explicitly or subconsciously. This plan can either succeed or fail in getting them what they want. Cinderella plans to present herself as a viable option for the prince by ensuring she is well-groomed and presentable - a plan she fulfils.

However, the character must pay a very heavy price for it - mentally, physically or emotionally. This is the climax of the story, where the character is challenged and maybe even forced to change. For Cinderella, the clock striking midnight signals a limit on the amount of time she can maintain the princess persona and interact with the prince.

5) The “Eureka” Moment

This part of the story is potentially the most vital: when the character is forced to look within and reflect on who they are, what they actually need and want, and who they must be to achieve these things. Cinderella's initial reluctance to claim ownership of the shoe suggests her acceptance of a life of servitude, implying that she views the "aristocratic dream" as unachievable.

6) The Resolution

Finally, the character either returns to their familiar situation or a new situation is born. In Cinderella, a new situation arises when Cinderella marries the prince and escapes her previous life. This is when the situation has been “resolved”, not “ended”.  


The other benefit of the skeleton approach is that you have the room to experiment with your Creative piece. For instance, you can do an allegorical text (like Animal Farm) or maybe even a cyclical structure (Gone Girl, film). Your Creative piece is inspired by your experiences and no one else’s so have fun with your creative control!

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Now quite sure how to nail your text response essays? Then download our free mini-guide, where we break down the art of writing the perfect text-response essay into three comprehensive steps.

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  • Learn how to apply key creative frameworks and literary elements to elevate your writing
  • Introduces the REPLICATE and IMAGINE strategy, a straightforward and methodical approach to creative writing
  • Includes a step-by-step method to guide you through every phase of creative writing
  • Explains the Written Explanation component, with multiple annotated A+ examples
  • Includes excerpts from multiple A+ creative pieces
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