Not all kids like writing, and some kids don’t mind writing but find it difficult to start or come up with ideas. I’ve put together some writing worksheets in pdf so you can print and write on them. They are linked to the points below, which can be used as guidelines to help you help your kids to develop a story at home or at school.
It’s so important at the beginning of a story to encourage wild brainstorming! No idea is too whacky to form into a story. Be open to all ideas and fragments – anything can be developed and teased out. If you have a child with a passionate idea for a story about black ice-cream but has no idea how to take it further, keep asking questions until you can stretch it out into a plan. Where does the black ice-cream come from? Who makes it? Where can you buy it? What happens when you eat it? Who wants the black ice-cream? Do you have to eat it – can you do something else with it? What texture does it have? What does it taste like? Do kids like it? Do adults like it? Who wants the black ice-cream most of all? What will that person/thing do to have the black ice-cream? Who will stop that person/thing who wants the black ice-cream? Your questions can really help your young writer to work out their story.
It’s worthwhile encouraging kids to be uninhibited when brainstorming. Messy writing that doesn’t fit on the lines is ok! Arrows to link ideas are fine! The initial stages of creativity are never neat and tidy.
1. Developing a character
It’s always a great idea to start with character. Both adults and children usually need to identify with or care about the characters they are reading about. It’s the same with writing. Once kids have developed a character, it’s easier to imagine what is going to happen to their character. Start with the basics – physical features, personality traits, likes, dislikes, strengths and weaknesses. Use worksheet 1 to start imagining a character.
2. What does your character want?
Now that kids have imagined their character – physical description and personality traits – they can think about what their character really wants. This is a great way to lead into plot – what is going to happen in the story. When kids know what their character wants – to be chosen in the school football team or to solve the mystery of the stolen chocolate bar or to win the race or to escape the nasty babysitter – they can see how this leads them into telling the story. Think about why their character wants this so much and what they are going to do to go after their dream. Check worksheet 1 if necessary – the character’s likes and dislikes might provide some clues. Use worksheet 2 to work out what a character wants.
3. What is the problem?
Now it’s time to add some tension. If you read a story with a character who knows what they want, and then manages to achieve this wish quite easily, you will not have a very interesting story! Use worksheet 3 to work out who or what will stop your character from getting what he/she wants. Another question to ask is why does he/she/it want to stop your character.
Now is the time to work out what your character will do to solve the problem. Have a look at the first worksheet with personality traits – does your character have a particular quality that will help them solve the problem? Perhaps they are clever or smart? Perhaps they are fast at running? Perhaps they have a lot of friends who could help them? Perhaps they are quiet and observant and have lots of ideas? Perhaps they have a superhero strength! You can also ask what will your character do if they fail to solve the problem? Problems don’t always have to be solved! Use worksheet 4 to plan the rest of the story.
Worksheet 5 can be used to help kids with editing their own work.
Worksheet 6 has some ideas for kids if they are stuck in the brainstorming stage.
But now it’s time to write!