Scholarship test writing

One good trick in short story writing is to achieve a variety of perspectives through the narration of different, and even conflicting, viewpoints. I do this using ellipsis ( * * * ) to present a transition from one narrator to another. The two submissions here using this technique are both 20 minute pieces written in response to an image of a figure wearing a very beautiful Venetian mask. For a word document version of much better presentation and formatting than what is shown here email me at

On Display In the Window

Charlotte stood still as stone outside the toy-store, transfixed amongst the swirling falls of white snow-flakes, her nose pressed against the pane of glass. She stared intently, as if hypnotised by the exhibit inside. Charlotte ignored the moving train and it’s lengths of tracks and signals and points and crossings, and her eyes did not rise with the colourful stacks of building blocks and their charming faces of letters and numbers in sequence. She was still as a statue, her attention solely focused on the beautiful porcelain doll with the Venetian mask.

The doll was exquisite, with rose-coloured details upon a white porcelain stage. Half-hidden behind a lace fan, the lips were full and red and could be either male or female. “Pochetto,” she called him, “My beautiful Pochetto,” Her imagination roamed wild across the seas and into the golden sunbeams of dreams to a dance of limitless joy; she took the doll from the store-front away with her fantasies.

Together they travelled to the courts of kings and queens, and on his arm she curtsied gracefully and swept a white satin dress behind her with one elegant wave of her hand. He stood at the bow of a gondola and serenaded her as she smiled regally and twirled her parasol, even trailing her fingers at times lightly in the wake of the waters of their passage. Pochetto’s eyes, like black leaves in the night, never left her face; she sighed with pleasure, and the glass of the store-front fogged over momentarily to hide the lovely figure and cloud her dreams. Her illusion surrendered to the cold reality of a winter’s day, and so she sadly turned and walked away.

* * *

Pochetto sat still as stone inside the store-front, listless and lifeless in the warm lights of the toy display. His porcelain mask hid his face, and presented empty eyes to the world and to the children outside the shop that so desired him. His consciousness raged with a single overwhelming notion and without imagination: Pochetto was quite insane. “Get me out of here!” he screamed, silently.




When I walked into the hall of the ball, it was as if I had entered the mythic realms of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. Such was the colour, the splendour and beauty of everyone and everything, it quite stole my breath away. On every face a smile graced all in greeting, and they moved to angelic music as one after another danced freely with each other. Time seemed to wait upon our wishes. It was clearly the party of a life-time shared by so many wonderfully garbed friends.

And then they arrived.

Thiers was the most beautiful of all costumes, like a burning morning star to outshine all diamonds on this night of carnival. Yet none knew who the new guest might be. Male? Female? None could free their adoring gaze from the divine being, but a mask covered the face beneath and hid their identity.

    I knew not who was behind that mask, or why, but I wanted to know. Their face smiled delightfully, painted with inviting strokes and gorgeous colours, and yet the spirit floated through the hall in a long, flowing robe without offering a single, solitary word to anyone. Soon the other guests had retreated to leave the silent stranger alone: they stood shimmering in an empty space, as if their very beauty defended them from approach.

    As I watched them from the safe company of a ring of happy friends, I noticed that despite their aloofness they never relaxed their vigilance. Despite their splendour, they were like a vicious dog chained to a post staring balefully at the gang under their guard. I began to feel frightened, the hairs rising on the back of my neck like that of a cat in unfortunate distress.

    Who was this glorious but faceless intruder upon our celebrations? What was their need for the dazzling, expressionless mask? What thoughts danced devilishly behind those black unblinking eyes? I hoped their hands would rise to take the beautiful and terrible mask away and reveal the one behind, but it never happened, not for one second…

    * * *

    I didn’t want to go. I knew the party would be fantastic, and received my invitation months beforehand, but for all my sins it had never been about what I wanted.

    Mother had bought the costume years beforehand, a down-payment for entry to another world. She said that she wanted me to go “to meet better people”, but in truth it was her pride that sent me to the ball. Her pride, and my shame.

    Of course I would be alone there, without any friends. The dress would make things worse, a flame drawing giant moths towards it. I wanted to hide from them behind a curtain, but instead I was a frightened mouse amongst a glaring of cats. In the end I felt as distant from them as the sun to the pale moon. Luckily for me, the costume came with a mask.

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