Tuesday, 5 January 2010
08:05:30 AM (GMT)
By Larissa Lycandro
Don’t you hate it when you are sitting at a table by yourself, tapping your pen,
trying to come up with a story that will fit into the 600-word limit in an exam? I
do. Most people come up with a topic for their story beforehand, but sometimes the
exam paper springs a “Write a Story About Discovery” on you and you are stuck
wondering how you could possibly relate a story about a penguin who gets transported
into the desert to the set topic. So I don’t bother with that, just in case, and I
am pretty good at coming up with a story on the spot. So that is not the problem, the
problem s when our teacher tells us to allow “plenty” of time to plan our stories
before we start writing the actual thing. The problem is that our English teacher
doesn’t really specify what “plenty” was.
We were given 1 hour to complete the exam. It took me a total of 40 minutes last year
to complete the questions, so that left me 20 minutes to plan and write the story. 10
minutes for each should be enough, right? Wrong. When the teacher supervising the
exam announced we had 5 minutes left, the class’ reaction seemed as if it was
planned; everyone groaned in unison and started to scribble faster, a few people
clicked their fingers and glanced around the room to come up with a word that they
hadn’t used 6 times in the last three sentences.
The teacher called out the two minute mark and advised people to check their work.
That was when people started putting down their pens looking quite satisfied and
reading over their work, only picking up their pens to cross out a word or two. That
was some people, others gasped, causing their classmates to giggle nervously.
After the exam, I went around and asked people how they ended their story. The
smarter ones said that they managed to end their story fairly logically, while some
of the, let’s say, dimmer students had a wonderful variety of endings such as
“and then the world blew up” or “and then the person telling the story got shot
in the head” But I found that the most common answer was “And then I woke up”
Which if you think about it, is actually not that bad. But my favourite ending was in
a story which was set out like a diary entry and its last sentence was “Oh no; my
pen ink is running out.” Classic. Really. But what I have found is that you can’t
end a piece of writing like this one, with “and then I woke up” It has to have a
deep moment of realisation or a moral to the story.
I could end it with a soppy line like “when you write a story, you bring the
characters to life, and even after you write the last word, the story never really
ends” But like I said, it’s soppy and it’s boring. So I am going to end it like
My deep moment of realisation is that the end of this story cannot be ended with one
of the ones that the students wrote on last year’s exam paper. The end of this
story needs a deep moment of realisation.
And so, I lean back in my chair, clicking my fingers, trying to come up with the best
last sentence for my story. But before I can write it down...
The whole world blows up.
Total Word Count: 600 words