Best Plot Twists to use for PSLE Compositions
Writing PSLE compositions requires a student to apply a variety of writing techniques to show your teacher, with the hope of getting a good grade. Even if a student has doubts about the quality of their sentences, their vocabulary, or their grammar, they can still weave a compelling and interesting plot with well developed, nuanced characters.
As such, students should practice writing Plot Twists, which exist to subvert the reader’s expectations suddenly and add depth to the plot. A plot twist is a surprising turn of events which changes the plot in a radical way. This has the effect of evoking emotions in the reader, whether positive or negative, keeping them in suspense and making them want to find out what will happen next in the story. Chosen well, plot twists can be applied to any composition.
Any writer can execute any plot twist, but the real question is whether the writer can execute the chosen plot twist well. As compositions are short form, students should choose their plot twists carefully to suit the short narrative they need to write during the exam. If a plot twist suits your story, and you feel confident about executing it well, then you should use it in your writing!
This article will outline a total of 3 plot twists – 2 which could be easily applied, and 1 plot twist which students should try to avoid.
Students may be wondering what a “red herring” is. When someone says, “Ah, that was only a red herring”, they mean that they had followed a false clue which did not lead to the answer they were searching for. The backstory of the red herring traces back to the 17th century, when herrings (a silvery fish) were often smoked to preserve them from going bad. During the smoking process, the fish turned a reddish hue and smelled awful. These red herrings were used to train dogs and horses to follow scents in fox hunts – they were not the actual foxes themselves which were hunted, but rather a false training mechanism used as practice.
The Red Herring plot twist can be found in mystery stories, when clues in the story cause the reader and other characters to incorrectly guess what has happened in the story. In drama or thrilled stories, these clues will cause the reader or other characters to be misled about the true events of the story, often making the wrong decisions as a result.
When writing compositions, students will need to weave red herrings into the fabric of the plot. Ultimately, the true outcome of the story must be known by the student and he/she must create clues pointing to such an outcome. When using a red herring, the student must also know what the red herring is and what clues point to the red herring being discovered.
Then, these clues must be planted in the story to misdirect the reader to believe that the culprit was the red herring. Later on, the truth must be revealed – a character could discover the real event, or a description of the truth could be included at the ending of a story.
How can a student use the Red Herring plot twist?
Question: Write a composition about “a mistake you made” which is accompanied by a picture of an elderly man.
The compo might be about you spotting an elderly man surreptitiously staring in the direction of your female classmate. Of course, you would be suspicious of the staring, angry at the possible bad intentions the man might have towards your classmate who is also getting uncomfortable. Finally, you can take it no longer. You confront the old man, and tell him to stop staring at your female classmate, or you will report him to the police.
The twist comes when the old man tells you that he was not looking at your classmate at all, but at you. He had spotted that your pants zipper was down and your underwear exposed. The old man kept glancing over because he hesitated telling you about your wardrobe malfunction, feeling awkward about possibly embarrassing you in front of your female classmate if he spoke up. Utterly aghast at the mistake you made, and embarrassed at the revelation of your exposed underwear in front of everyone in the train, you apologize profusely and alight at the next stop, unable to face the stares of the passengers and your classmate for another moment.
The red herring in this situation would be the thought that the old man was being a pervert and looking at the character’s female classmate the wrong way. However, when the truth was revealed, that the old man was looking at the character’s unbuttoned pants, the red herring is revealed to merely be a false flag which reinforces the topic of the story – the mistake made.
The plot twist “Chekhov’s Gun” reminds students that whatever a student has described in their composition should add to the story – otherwise, it should not be included at all. Anton Chekhov, a renowned author, playwright, and literary master wrote in a letter, “If in the first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, in the following one it should be fired. Otherwise, don’t put it there.”
How to use Chekhov’s Gun in a composition:
Question: Write a composition about “learning a lesson the hard way”.
The student could be writing about a particularly mischievous boy named Austin being taken on a bird watching learning journey with his classmates. He emerges from the bus at the beach, where cawing gulls pepper the air, as waves sigh upon the sandy shore. However, he is completely uninterested in watching birds. Being inconsiderate, he spends the entire time snacking, making noise, and scaring away the aquatic birds his classmates are supposed to observe. They ask him to be quiet and maintain a low profile to not affect the wildlife, some of which might be aggressive, but he ignores them.
“Who cares about some dumb birds?” he sneers.
All of a sudden, attracted by the food in his hands, an aggressive seagull lands on him, scaring him half to death as he flails like a headless chicken to get it off. The seagull grabs at his food, slaps him on the head with its massive wings and makes off with all of Austin’s snacks. Austin is left looking a mess, with feathers and spilled food on his body and his classmates laughing at him. He learns his lesson the hard way that he should be more considerate of nature and his classmates.
In this example, the “cawing of the gulls” was mentioned earlier in the scene description. The purpose of such a description is not only to set the scene for the reader, but to foreshadow that there are seagulls in the area. The seagulls ended up being significant to the plot, answering the essay question as it was a lesson learned the hard way. Moreover, another good detail is Austin’s classmates telling him that there could be aggressive wildlife present in the area.
These details set the scene for the seagull attack and makes a freak event such as this believable for the reader as it was already hinted beforehand.
The final plot twist which students should avoid is the “deus ex machina”, which is Greek for the phrase “God from a machine”. The ancient Greeks used to put on plays (happy plays were called “comedies” and sad plays were called “tragedies”) which featured actors playing the various Greek gods being lowered onto a stage with a crane when it was time to read their lines. As such, the term was coined to mean that a plot could be resolved by a god descending from the heavens to correct any conflict or make right any injustice which occurred during the plot.
Although this is a legitimate plot twist used in many movies and works, it is difficult to pull off well, and should be avoided by students who are not confident in their writing abilities.
How to use the deus ex machina in a composition:
Question: Write a composition about “showing courage”, accompanied by a picture of a wallet.
You write about how you are alone walking along the corridor during recess. As you walk, you spot two bullies in an empty classroom, digging through someone’s bag. You linger nearby and realize they are stealing from them. You decide to show courage and confront them. They are not pleased and threaten to beat you up if you reveal their crime.
All of a sudden, you hear a voice from the door boom, “What is going on here?” You turn and see that it is the school principal appearing at the classroom door! You blurt out what you had seen, the principal believes you immediately and scolds the two bullies. He then praises you for showing courage.
In this example, the appearance of the principal is a common deus ex machina which is used in compositions as it solves the central conflict almost immediately, which catapults the story into its happy ending where the protagonist is praised and the antagonists are reprimanded. This plot twist has been done to death in many stories and movies, and will cause your teacher to roll their eyes more than anything else, and will not result in a good grade for your essay.
The reason why this plot twist does not work is because there is a lack of explanation for why the teacher or principal is suddenly standing at that particular door of the classroom where the protagonist is, when there are so many classrooms in the school that he could be passing by. The protagonist could not be sure of the principal being there, and cannot explain this in detail to the reader. The student could write that the principal is known to walk around during recess, but if this is common knowledge to the student, shouldn’t this be common knowledge to the bullies as well, who would avoid being caught by blatantly committing the offence?
A good plot twist will not involve the student explaining why it has happened after the fact, but rather a plot twist should be set up well in advance using logic. Details should be provided as foreshadowing. A deus ex machina requires the student to creatively write these details into the plot earlier, instead of having a magical appearance of someone who can solve everything when it is the most convenient to the plot.
At WR!TERS@WORK, we are committed to providing the smoothest learning experience for your child sitting for their English exams at both primary and secondary school levels. With our carefully curated methods of teaching English for PSLE, O Levels, and A Levels, your child will be able to identify the answers to the questions and present them in a concise manner in no time.
English is a compulsory subject that has direct impact on your chances of getting the best education opportunities. Overall, English tuition and writing courses can help primary school students enjoy a smoother transition between education levels by reinforcing their language skills and providing a strong foundation for academic success.
Engaging in English tuition and writing courses can greatly assist students in smoothly transitioning between education levels. These programs reinforce their language skills and establish a solid foundation for academic achievement. For more exam tips, parents and students can explore our website and watch our YouTube videos.
If you are interested in our primary English tuition and secondary English tuition in Singapore, WR!TERS@WORK has expanded to 8 convenient locations. To find the nearest location that suits your needs, please explore our options. If you have any inquiries regarding our range of programs or class schedules, please feel free to contact WR!TERS@WORK.
1. Is It Possible to Fail PSLE?
It is not possible to fail PSLE. The marks obtained in PSLE are merely used as a placement metric to determine which secondary school your child will enter.
2. How Long Should You Study for PSLE?
Parents should take around a year or two to prepare for PSLE as learning about subjects like English requires a long-term effort, as opposed to short cramming.
3. Is PSLE Compulsory?
PSLE is compulsory for everyone to enter secondary school in Singapore.
4. How to Study for PSLE?
Parents should make a list of everything a child should study for all their PSLE subjects. Engaging a tuition teacher or practicing with workbooks and past year papers may help students tackle the exam format of PSLE and feel more confident taking the exam.
5. How Do I motivate My Child to Do PSLE?
Children should be motivated to do PSLE by being taught that it is important for their future. Explaining to them the reasons to do the exam may work better than forcing them to study.
© Copyright www.writersatwork.com.sg 2023, all rights reserved.