HSC Creative writing reflection cheatsheet: with examples!!

Completely lost on how to write a reflection for module C HSC? We got you. A step by step guide on how to write the perfect reflection piece, with template structures and exemplars! It really is the ultimate cheatsheet.

7 months ago   •   5 min read

By KIS Academics
Photo by No Revisions / Unsplash

What is a reflective text in the HSC?

NESA doesn’t provide a definition for what reflective text is. However, they do define reflection as:

“The thought process by which students develop an understanding and appreciation of their own learning. This process draws on both cognitive and affective experience.”

This includes the following features:

  • Use of first person to express self-assessment
  • Use of evaluative language (my metaphor was effective in...)
  • Considered use of examples (this means quoting your own work)
  • Use of anecdotal references, imagery or metaphor
  • Explanation, description or justification of the use of specific language or stylistic devices
  • Connections between what students learn about writing and the writing that they craft
  • Self-awareness of the learning process

Essentially, the reflection is designed to get you critically thinking about your own writing choices. It also gives you the chance to justify to the marker the stylistic choices you made and point out hidden nuances they might have missed.

So how do you write a band 6 reflection?

1) Answer the question

2023 MOD C Question 3. (b)

Justify how the stylistic choices you have made in part (a) demonstrate the hope that comes with anticipation. In your response, make detailed reference to your writing in part (a).

Like an essay, your reflection should still have a logical structure with a strong 'thesis' like a start and linking sentences that connect back with the question. Now this year they didn't ask you to reference your prescribed text (and you won't be penalised for not mentioning them at all!) but you can if you still want to. What is important however is that throughout your reflective piece, you are exploring the stylistic choices you have made and linking them to how to help communicate your ideas of hope and anticipation.

The term stylistic choices is very broad meaning you can almost write about anything! To ground yourself, centralise your writing around these three macro narrative elements.

  • Characterisation
  • Setting
  • Tone

How did you use language (syntax, metaphors, alliteration, dialogue) to create a certain character/setting/tone? And by creating this particular character/setting/tone, how did that influence the message you are attempting to communicate with your reader? With reference to the 2023 HSC reflection question, how did your depiction of character/setting/tone demonstrate the hope that comes with anticipation?

This isn't the only right approach and there are a million other things you can talk about but it is a good way to start thinking if you are feeling lost.

2) Introduction

Reflections should still have the same intro, body, and conclusion structure as essays. It's a good idea to have a template in mind going into exams so you can focus on the actual analysis in your body paragraphs.

Your introduction must consist of three things which I like to split up into three sentences. A very simple three-sentence introduction.

  • The aim and purpose of your piece.
  • How you were influenced by your prescribed text?
  • How through this influence, you made stylistic choices to communicate your purpose. (In other words, TECHNIQUES!!)

My (insert text type) (insert title) aims to (insert key message of your piece). I was influenced by (introduce prescribed text and author) whose (what did the author do that influenced you?) to explore (insert their key message). Hence, by mirroring their use of (insert the stylistic devices you were influenced by) I employed (insert your main techniques) to (connect back to your purpose).

My imaginative magical realism piece, "The Calling" aims to highlight the importance of having ambition in order to sustain a meaningful and satisfying existence in capitalism's mundane and bleak chokehold. I was influenced by Franz Kafka's novella "Metamorphosis," whose comedic dialogue and dynamic characterisation developed an effective satire that propounded his commentary on 20th-century existence. Hence, by mirroring Kafka's satire, I employed situational irony and hyperbolic language to...

3) Body paragraphs

For exams, you should prepare at least 2 body paragraphs, three if you want to be extra prepared for a heavily weighted reflection question however those are extremely unlikely. The typical expectations to follow per mark distribution are as follows;

  • 5 marks - 1 page (One big body paragraph or super condensed essay. One or two sentences for the intro, one body/main point, and one or two final concluding sentences for the conclusion)
  • 8 marks - 1.5 ~ 2 pages (Three sentence intro, two short paragraphs, 2 quotes each, conclusion)
  • 10 marks 2 ~ 3 pages (Three sentence intro, three short 2 quote paragraphs or two big 3 quotes, conclusion)

How should you base your body paragraphs?

The main way I recommend you structure your paragraphs is through macro stylistic choices. What I mean by this is to choose two or three big things your text does. For example, you can have your first paragraph about setting, then tone and characterisation. Then within that use quotes that display the micro techniques you used to create said setting/tone/characterisation.

Other ideas could be having your first paragraph about your use of irony throughout the text, then include examples of how you used hyperbole or dialogue to create this irony. Then your next paragraph could be about the main motif in your and the metaphor and imagery used to develop this motif.

Basically what you are doing this thinking about what are the macro stylistic devices that run throughout your piece and how are they developed with micro stylistic devices.

*Remember PEEL is still your best friend here.

In order to explore this apathetic and creative paralysis, I develop a dichotomous depiction of creativity (technique) to examine the idea that individuality has disintegrated and original perspectives have lost meaning amongst the proliferation of literature in an overwhelming digital context. Inspired by Spotty Handed Villainesses (reference prescribed text), I employed a nostalgic pathos-evoking anecdote to highlight the importance of reading to the human experience. The imperative metaphor “I am an amalgamation of tales” (quote 1) portrays the individual ability to have creative perspectives as limited to their ability to read. Influence continues into Atwood’s binary exploration of the angel/whore split enticing me to examine creativity dichotomously as not the ‘freedom’ to invent but rather a constrained ability to extract from our experiences. The cliche “all there is to know is at the touch of our fingertips” (quote 2) utilises the synecdoche of ‘fingertips’ to illuminate the way technology has degraded the individual experience of perspective; with everything given to us we have lost the desire to explore and as a result, we have lost our source of creativity and ability to function meaningfully as an individual.

Basically, you are analysing your own writing here, just like how you analyse normally, except in first person and with a tone of reflection (very important)!!!

4) Conclusion

Your conclusion doesn't need to be too much. For a band 6 response, you should have been continually drawing conclusions and insights throughout your body paragraphs already. This means, you only need one or two sentences at the end to sum everything up.

You want to address the three key points from your introduction;

  1. Restate your aim/purpose.
  2. Influence from prescribed text.
  3. Main stylistic choices.

Ultimately, by drawing upon the [stylistic device 1] and [stylistic device2] used in [prescribed text], I have effectively conveyed [your key message].

Remember to also connect back to the question!! This can be done in another sentence if necessary.

Another example:

Therefore, my imaginative piece evokes the emotions associated with hope and introspection through manipulating language structures such as syntax and imagery, drawing stylistic inspiration from Nam Lee'sLove, Honour, Pride’.

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