For many kids, writing stories is a powerful and effective way of expressing their ideas and emotions. A story can take on many directions—it might be a mystery, a comedy, or a story with a happy ending.
Students can get totally creative and make up fanciful lands, or they can ground their stories in a familiar setting with characters they relate closely to.
Regardless of the directions they take, stories provide students with the opportunity to write creatively, solve problems, and practice their understanding of others within a single activity.
These five steps help kids begin writing their own stories.
Write Your Own Story: 5 Tips for Kids
1. Begin with an Action
While children’s books often begin with a simple “Once upon a time” or “There once was,” encourage kids to start their stories somewhere in the middle of the action. Suggest that they begin the story during a conversation or show some aspect of the main character’s personality from the beginning. Readers will be drawn into the story immediately—and kids may find it easier to continue writing when an event is already happening in the story.
2. Make Your Character’s Behaviors Reflect Personality Traits
Each character should have a couple of main personality traits, and students can use each character’s actions to reflect his or her identity. For example, a responsible character may be in bed promptly at 9:00 p.m. every night, while a laidback character might prefer to sleep in until noon every day.
3. Use Adjectives Liberally
When students begin writing stories, there’s really no such thing as too many adjectives. Encourage kids to describe their characters and settings in great detail. Some students struggle to give specific pictures of characters and instead use vague language. It’s much easier to take out extraneous details later than it is to create an interesting story without good descriptions.
4. Move the Story Toward an Event
Most stories move toward a particular event—and there is typically some sort of crisis or problem that must be resolved before the ending. Help students understand which details in their stories move the plot forward and which elements of the story lack purpose. If you have students who struggle to find a central climax or are unsure of a story’s ultimate direction, encourage them to use outlines. A simple outline that lists the main events in a story leading up to the action can help kids figure out which plot points they need to hit on the way there.
5. Bring the Ending Full-Circle
When it’s time for the story to end, students should explain how the problem was ultimately resolved and discuss what happened afterward. One of the best ways to end a story is to bring it full-circle from the beginning. Have students look back at the first pages of their stories and make note of key details or settings. Bring these details back in a new manner during the story’s conclusion to create a sense of closure for the story and the characters. If students are struggling with their final sentences, have them read the last sentences of some of their favorite books for inspiration.