Might as well share what I did in preparation for English GCSEs
(24 marks for content and organisation
16 marks for technical accuracy)
I did this one instead of the “finish the story” one because that one was ass. If you want it:
Write a story that begins with the sentence: ‘This was going to be a terrible day, one of
those days when it’s best to stay in bed because everything is going to turn out bad.’
(copied/pasted from USB stick so prepare for random linebreaks)
Neptune has been angered; he has roused Poseidon to help - and now he is taking judgement on the lighthouse and its inhabitants. The waves crash against the sturdy rock, salt and swirl overwhelming any foolish
enough to have remained outside. The gods were not pleased. The granite had stood for many years, and it would stand for many years more. It was sturdy rock, good enough to build practically anything on. It was
old, perhaps older than the gods themselves, and it was home, at least, to one family. The lighthouse had weathered many storms, and it would weather many more. The temperature drops further, the clouds darken with
barely-restrained lightning. The air tingles, twitching, twirling in the gale that drags up water from the ocean and hurls it with all its might at the target. If the water weren’t salt, and if it weren’t moving
about as fast, it would have frozen over - small mercy that would have been.
The radio occasionally picked up a burst of music coming from some station many miles away. Father impatiently twiddled the dial, hoping to find some uninterrupted song on one of the stations, but there was so much
static it might as well have been off. He looked out the window, coldly observing the hissing and spitting of the sea as it futilely attempted to break through the stout stone walls of the lighthouse. Perhaps one
of the shoddily-built blocks of flats in the city might be breached by the storm, but this house was built to withstand it. The granite that made its walls was mined from the very same area where those walls now
stood - a strong rock for a strong building that had to last through strong storms. Such was the mastery of human ingenuity and engineering over the forces of nature. In the words of some philosopher he’d failed to
remember the name of, “we built towns and cities, and now we no longer have to worry about being eaten by tigers.”
A thousand and more years ago, another storm had brewed, thrashing the island with great relish at the torture of its neolithic inhabitants. The tribe had built their huts on the granite, but their huts were made
of sticks and twigs and mud that melted and collapsed under the force of the ocean spray. There had been little to no warning, and the tribe was ill prepared. All but one had been lost, and even the lone survivor
barely made the journey back to the mainland.
A thousand and more years later, all that was lost was the dog’s tennis ball.
Uncle had checked the shipping routes - there ought to be nobody in danger of beaching themselves on the granite for the next few hours - but there was always something. A river schooner might be blown off course
and dashed upon the rocks, or some unscheduled arrival could come and not be spotted. He knew he should be tending to the light to make sure the salt and rime didn’t get to it and disrupt the fragile workings that
went on behind the scenes - but the light had survived far worse - and it would survive even more in the future. At most, all that could happen was a short - the breaker box was always pulling tricks like that. He
had a sense about him - he knew when he was urgently needed at the tower, he knew when the beacon would need to shine to warn nearby ships of the rocks that awaited them should they choose to approach. He could
tell that he wouldn’t be needed today, though through force of habit he kept the emergency line close by, in case anything were to come up.
Inside, the family was warm. The fireplace was lit, and the coal crackled comfortably, providing pleasant heat in defiance of the bristling cold outside. From the couch, all you could see of the havoc outside was a
small rectangle, four foot tall by two foot wide, on the other side of the room, where the dark blues and greys of a depression at work rudely interrupted the warm reds and oranges of the wallpaper. Around the
fire, the couch was accompanied by two more comfy chairs and a table, on which sat an empty mug that recently held hot chocolate and marshmallows, and the next installment of the fantasy epic that the family had
taken an instant liking to. Derisive laughter filled the room whenver Mother narrated one of the magicians complaining about the heat and lack of rain. Come to the Hebrides - you can have all the rain you want.
Outside, the wind howled in frustration that its efforts were going unnoticed, and battered the windows, demanding to be acknowledged. Inside, it was merely the soundtrack to the battle raging between two medieval
When the storm ends, Father will go outside and inspect the face of the wall that stares off the sea, that stands defiant against the storm’s destructive rage. He will assess the damage - and most likely, there
will be none. If a branch from the nearby pear tree has come off, there will be a few scratches in the plaster. If the spray has flung some rocks up at the house, there may be dents. Father has had to keep a tub of
plaster for repairs each time - calling out a professional would be a waste, of time as well as money. But the damage is always superficial. Even in the worst weather, only one stone at most gets exposed. The house
has been re-plastered so many times that it looks like a patchwork quilt, but ever since it was put up all those decades ago, it has never come down. The family knows it is safe, and can pay the crashing of the sea
The family would learn later that the storm was, in fact, a record one. The sprays had reached significantly higher up than in any storm previous - Uncle would have to admit he probably should have been up in the
light room, just in case, although he would probably just claim that since nobody was shipwrecked, no harm was done. They would learn that someone had died: a tourist from Indonesia, who had refused to come inside
and been flung out into the sea by the sheer force of the wind. Another was in hospital, after being struck in the leg by a flying piece of scaffolding. But these things had happened elsewhere, outside of the warm
and comforting shell of the lighthouse. And for the here and now, even the full might of the gods has no power over that of man.