Creative Writing Ideas for Discovery – HSC Area of Study

How does one tame the strange beast that is HSC creative writing?

Even if you enjoy creative writing, it can be hard to shoehorn your ideas into restrictive frameworks like an 800 word short story about discovery. Preparing a loose framework for your story before exam is unavoidable, and one of the best ways to spark ideas is by using visual stimuli.

Let’s take a look at two visuals, and brainstorm some ideas.

We want to think about these visuals in terms of Discovery themes and narrative triggers.

 Visual One


HSC Creative Writing in the Advanced English Paper 1 exam likely involves either a textual or visual stimulus.

Artist: Marco Castelli


Discovery Theme: “Discovery can encompass the experience of discovering something for the first time or rediscovering something that has been lost, forgotten, or concealed.” (Board of Studies HSC syllabus document for Advanced English, 2015-2020)

Narrative trigger: The visual above looks like it could be of an aspect of a planet. Instead of making your narrative trigger about a character looking into a telescope, you could take a surprising angle. Instead, you could write about a character who is lying in a bath, looks up at the ceiling and sees a colony of mould developing. Patterns and colours of mould resemble the surface of planets, and she is able to visualise the solar system through them. Perhaps this is a point in the future when trips to space have been heavily commodified (when it is common for people to pay for holidays in space), and she challenges that convention by being able to discover space through something as mundane as ceiling mould.

Visual Two


There was some discussion about pulling out the creative component of the HSC Advanced English paper, but it appears that for the Discovery Area of Study unit at least, it’s here to stay. The current HSC syllabus of which Discovery is a part is supposed to last until 2020.


Discovery Theme: “Discoveries may be questioned or challenged when viewed from different perspectives….the ramifications of particular discoveries may differ for individuals and their worlds.” (Board of Studies HSC syllabus document for Advanced English, 2015-2020)

Narrative Trigger: Here is a typical dystopia set in what looks like a futuristic London. Dystopias are always good settings for Discovery creative writing pieces because they allow the character to be made aware of the problems of our world. The character’s discovery of these problems is achieved as the author represents them in a radical, extreme form. You can introduce a surprising angle to your dystopic story by telling it from the point of view of a character who is not human. This character however, has spent enough time in the company of humans to be able to point out the differences between the old world and the new. Your creative piece might revolve around a dog who walks around this futuristic London, commenting on aspects of the new world which humans have become too familiar with to notice.

So…what do I do with all that information?hsc essay marking

Framing a creative piece within ideas about Discovery or Belonging is not an easy task. We can help you refine your creative with detailed feedback and suggestions. Find out about our creative writing review service here.