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Workshop 08 — Creative writing Year 10 age level, six months in Australia

This story was written by a student now in Sydney as an overseas student from Shanghai, where she had studied English as a foreign language with some success. She came to Australia in July-August 2006 and wrote the following in February 2007. After doing some reading on the Titanic and having seen the movie some years before in China, she was asked to write from the point of view of a passenger on the fateful voyage.

Unedited draft

I was a customer of the economy class in Titanic. That was my first time to embark in such a palatial ship but actually that was the last time for the ship to sail. The ship traveled from Britain to America. The captain of the Titanic wanted to break a record of the speed so he chose a short but dangerous way. This wrong decision made the deaths of hundreds of people but luckly, I was a survivor.

The accident was caused by an iceberg. It hit on the Titanic on the right front side and the sea water soon teem with the large ship. I was at the bottom of the ship. I wanted to go upstears but my way is nearly full of the water. That freed me to swim to the stears. Then I went to the big hall of the ship. There has less water than the economy class but the water was spurted every where. I kept went up-stears and when I reach the deck, there were many people already went on the lifeboat. The people on the lifeboat were all women, old people and children. I was gratifying that I was a woman. The weather was cold and my whole body was wet. So I grabed a cloth and to drape over my body. I ran to the place where can went on the lifeboat. The sailor allowed me to went on the boat. At that time, I felt my life was saved. The lifeboat drifted away from the Titanic. After ten minutes, a collision buckle seams in the hull. The ship was tilted and soon went down in the water. There were many people in the sea and shouted loudly. Their faces looked terrified and it seems they felt really cold. I felt I was lucky and they were commiserative. Then, about half an hour after, the surface of the sea became quiet because they nearly all died. The water was so cold. Although I was on the lifeboat, I still afraid. The big relievable ship arrived later, the people in the lifeboats were all saved. I would never forgot how happy I was. I suddenly cried. After that, I relized the life was wonderful and I could faced all the difficulties.

At the macro level of structure, this is good work, paragraph conventions aside. Content is very acceptable, some derived, and some vocabulary derived — but not plagiarised — from the reading passage, and some from memories of the movie.

Now comes the hard part: how to diagnose and assess this piece in order to advance the student’s English. I will deliver my suggestions, and a reworked essay, later on. Meanwhile, participate in this workshop with comments or suggestions of your own. Yes, they will be filtered before publication….

Now to work

No-one made suggestions, though quite a few people have read this page since it went up around two weeks ago. Following Neil Whitfield’s ESL SCALES RUBRIC FOR WRITING, based on ESL Scales (Australia) 1994, I see this work as between Levels 4 and 5.

Level 5

· Writes coherent texts characterised by a degree of personal style and reasonably extended content.

· Shows some (general) accuracy with textual features including subject-verb agreement, tense, use of common modals, tag questions, prepositional idioms, articles and conditionals

· Takes some account of context, purpose and reader but may lack resources to do this consistently

Level 4

· Writes texts characterised by overall cohesion and coherence.

· Shows quite variable accuracy with textual features including subject-verb agreement, tense, use of common modals, tag questions, prepositional idioms, articles and simple conditionals and formal/informal register

· Demonstrates awareness that texts must be tailored to the requirements of the topic, purpose and audience.

Step One: fix the paragraphing.

I was a customer of the economy class in Titanic. That was my first time to embark in such a palatial ship but actually that was the last time for the ship to sail. The ship traveled from Britain to America. The captain of the Titanic wanted to break a record of the speed so he chose a short but dangerous way. This wrong decision made the deaths of hundreds of people but luckly, I was a survivor.

The accident was caused by an iceberg. It hit on the Titanic on the right front side and the sea water soon teem with the large ship. I was at the bottom of the ship. I wanted to go upstears but my way is nearly full of the water. That freed me to swim to the stears.

Then I went to the big hall of the ship. There has less water than the economy class but the water was spurted every where. I kept went up-stears when I reach the deck, there were many people already went on the lifeboat. The people on the lifeboat were all women, old people and children. I was gratifying that I was a woman. The weather was cold and my whole body was wet. So I grabed a cloth and to drape over my body. I ran to the place where can went on the lifeboat. The sailor allowed me to went on the boat..

The lifeboat drifted away from the Titanic. At that time, I felt my life was saved

After ten minutes, a collision buckle seams in the hull. The ship was tilted and soon went down in the water. There were many people in the sea and shouted loudly. Their faces looked terrified and it seems they felt really cold. I felt I was lucky and they were commiserative. Then, about half an hour after, the surface of the sea became quiet because they nearly all died. The water was so cold. Although I was on the lifeboat, I still afraid.

The big relievable ship arrived later, the people in the lifeboats were all saved. I would never forgot how happy I was. I suddenly cried. After that, I relized the life was wonderful and I could faced all the difficulties.

Step two: work through vocabulary and grammar.

Changes were discussed with the writer.

I was an economy class passenger on the Titanic. It was my first time embarking on such a luxurious ship. It was the Titanic’s maiden voyage too, but actually that was the last time the ship ever sailed. The ship was travelling from Britain to America. The captain of the Titanic wanted to break the speed record so he chose a short but dangerous route. This wrong decision caused the deaths of hundreds of people but luckily I was a survivor.

The accident was caused by an iceberg. It hit on the Titanic on the right [starboard] front side and sea water soon rushed into the large ship. I was below decks. I wanted to go upstairs but my way was nearly full of the water but I was able to swim up to the stairs.

Then I went to the main hall of the ship. There has less water there than in the economy class but the water was spurting everywhere. I kept going upstairs.

When I reached the deck, there were many people already getting into the lifeboats. The people in the lifeboats were all women, old people and children. I was gratified [pleased?] that I was a woman. The weather was cold and my whole body was wet. So I grabbed a cloth to drape over my body. I ran to a place where I could get into a lifeboat. A sailor allowed me to get into the boat.

[More detail needed here.]

The lifeboat drifted away from the Titanic. From that time, I felt my life was saved.

After ten minutes, a collision buckled seams in the hull. The ship tilted and soon went down into the water. There were many people in the sea who were screaming loudly. Their faces looked terrified and it seems they were really cold. I felt I was lucky and the other people on the life boat shared that feeling. Then, about half an hour later, the surface of the sea became quiet because the unlucky passengers who had not been able to reach a lifeboat had drowned. The water was so cold. Although I was lucky enough to be in the lifeboat, I was still afraid.

The big rescue ship arrived later, and the people in the lifeboats were all saved. I will never forget how happy I was. I suddenly cried. After that, I realized that life was wonderful and I could face all difficulties.

You will see quite a few issues arose in that essay. One was the correct use of articles. This is not an easy thing to master. See for some ideas Purdue University’s OWL The Use and Non-Use of Articles. A quiz.

 

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