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In this section

Candidate B

The candidate was awarded 8 marks for this broadly creative piece of writing.

Summary

The candidate has written a short story in the science-fiction genre about David Harker, a solitary man approaching fifty who lives on Marsden Moor. In the isolation of the moor, David has, what he believes to be, a close encounter with a UFO. When he tries to convince the regulars in his local pub of his sighting his account is dismissed. David sets out to prove that he is not suffering from delusions. The story ends with David and two companions sighting the mysterious UFO, from which they run away, agreeing ‘that they would never to talk about [it] again’.

Content

Attention to purpose and audience is adequate and the candidate makes a genuine effort to employ the creative features of a science-fiction story. The story opens by offering details to establish the central character of David – a man who had ‘often considered moving into the village just so that he could be around other people’ and is ‘reluctant’ to walk his dog in the pouring rain – which suggest an adequate understanding of creative qualities. The night of the first UFO sighting is described with an attempt at atmospheric description: ‘rain lashed sideways across the moors’ with ‘branches…being blown about like paper’.

Later in the story, there is an attempt to evoke a number of familiar tropes of the genre: the solitary eye-witness whom no one believes; the dog that barks ‘frantically’ at the approach of the UFO; the car engine that mysteriously stops working. Whilst these references may be familiar, they are indicators of a candidate showing an adequate understanding of the genre and a genuine attempt to write a story using instantly recognisable features of that genre. There is an attempt by the candidate to introduce thematic concerns (such as the isolation, the existence of alien beings and the treatment of those who say they have witnessed such phenomena) but these are not developed and therefore remain adequate.

The candidate creates an adequate sense of character and place. The description of the moors and the pub is appropriate to the genre and draws upon well-known examples in an adequate manner. The main character of the story and the accompanying cast of ‘sceptical locals’ feel familiar. There is an attempt to develop the relationship between David and Joe, the barman, who is more sympathetic to David and less inclined to dismiss him as drunk or deluded. Joe notices how shocked David is after the first sighting: ‘You look like you’ve seen a ghost’; David ‘desperately’ pleads, ‘Joe, please tell me you believe me.’ Again, the idea of the one friend who can be confided in is a common feature. Thus, the candidate draws from a shared cultural well to write a story that fulfils the reader’s expectations of the science-fiction genre. Attempts to use mild humour include the moment when describing the ‘three men and a dog’ who run from the alien and agree to never talk about it again. The end of the story is anti-climactic.

Style

The piece has a straightforward linear storyline, in which each section develops as the narrative moves from David’s first encounter with the UFO, through his attempt to convince the locals of the second encounter, to the third and final encounter where contact is made. The plot is clearly centred on the one main character, exploring his three UFO sightings, interspersed with visits to the local pub.

From the outset, the candidate attempts to foreshadow later events, telling the reader ‘at night time, it was a different story’ and referencing the Stephen Hawking documentary about aliens. Pathetic fallacy is used when David ventures out ‘one particular foul night’ and a sense of unease is established on the ‘dark, sinister moors’ on a ‘foul night’. The piece demonstrates some understanding of the genre, adequately using a range of linguistic features: imagery (‘David ran like Usain Bolt’), word choice (‘zoomed off’), parenthesis (‘– which miraculously started –’) and dialogue (‘I’m telling you, I saw summat. It were like nowt I’ve ever seen’). These features of the chosen genre are used adequately to tell the story and create an impression of character and place.

Overall

This piece is placed in the 9-7 mark range. There is adequate evidence of creative qualities, and structure and use of linguistic features are adequate overall. This piece is described fully by the statements in the 9-7 mark range. For these reasons, the piece was awarded 8 marks.