Teaching Fiction Writing: Four Things Your Students Should Know Before Getting Started
Learning to write fiction is an important part of any student’s education—which is why many classrooms have children begin writing their own stories from as early on as first grade. Fiction helps kids explore their imaginations and the bounds of reality while also offering them an expansive playground from which they can hone their writing skills.
However, while young students may only need to focus on making up basic plots and characters and constructing a beginning, middle, and end, it’s important for older students to begin learning about the elements of story and the various ways to construct a work of fiction. Here we’ve compiled four essential things your middle school students should know as you begin teaching fiction writing.
1. Conflict is the Foundation of Story
No matter what genre your students are writing in or how advanced their writing skills are, one of the first things they should learn is that conflict is the foundation of story.
Conflict adds tension, drama, and stakes to any story—and in fiction, it can come from any number of sources. It may be a disagreement between two characters, a character’s struggle to accomplish some goal, or simply the uncertainty of what will happen next in the story… so long as the conflict is there, asking to be resolved.
2. Good Fiction is Based in Reality
Many young students have the misconception that they must make up every single detail in their fictional works—but in all actuality, this couldn’t be further from the truth! Good fiction is based in reality and for many authors, that means borrowing characters and events and experiences from their own lives.
Whether your students want to go totally wild and tell completely non-realistic stories or whether they prefer to write something that feels a little closer to home, they simply need to understand that readers connect best with stories that share universal truths and emotions—and these experiences will always be based in reality, no matter how outlandish the rest of the tale.
3. There are No Right or Wrong Ways to Tell a Story
As your students begin to feel more comfortable writing fictional works, you should also begin teaching them that there are no right or wrong ways to tell a story. Many students don’t realize that there are options to storytelling beyond first-person and third-person—or, for instance, that things don’t always have to take place in chronological order.
Encourage your students to try out an alternate form of storytelling in their fiction writing, such as writing in the second person, telling a story out of order, or telling the same event from multiple perspectives.
4. Your Imagination is Your Only Limit
To truly help your students become comfortable in the realm of fiction writing, they also need to understand that imagination is their only limit.
Writers have been exploring the boundaries of storytelling and communication for centuries, and over and over again they find the same thing: that fiction writing is a vast and endless ground where anything is truly possible. When your students understand that no rules are to be placed on their creativity, they’ll be able to freely and fully tell the stories that most capture their imaginations.
Until next time write on…