A Step-by-Step Creative Writing Guide for kids

Let’s begin by addressing the elephant in the room. Why should kids practice creative writing? Although many parents still consider creative writing a waste of time for their kids, I urge you to think again. Be it a college essay, a speech at a wedding, or a job application, your child will need creative writing skills at different stages of life.

However, even though you are a great creative writer, it becomes difficult to train your kids. After all, how would you explain the next-to-impossible journey of an idea to a piece of writing? Trust me, dear reader, as a creative writing teacher, I know your pain. Therefore, I am writing a step-by-step creative writing guide for kids to make it easier.

Let’s be spontaneous!

That’s right! Spontaneous writing is the first step for every writer. Even established, renowned authors have emphasized the importance of practicing spontaneous writing.

But, how to do that with kids?

First, ask your child about their favorite cartoon or TV show character. Once they start talking about it, let them imagine. For instance—if your child loves Spider-Man, ask them what would they do if they were Spider-Man for a day.

Pick up any random topic and ask them to write about it. In addition to that, you can also ask them to write about funny incidents that happened at school, a friend’s birthday party, and reimagining certain movies and stories.

Only one tip from my side: be flexible. Don’t worry about your child’s grammar, sentence structure, or vocabulary. Encourage them to write their thoughts spontaneously. Trust me; it will not only expand their imagination but also help in expressing thoughts in day-to-day life.

Read! Read! Read!

My high school English teacher once said, “Read eights hours to write one hour”.

Believe me or not, creative writing is more about reading than writing. However, we must go easy on kids. I suggest you encourage your little one for one-hour reading sessions. In case your child hasn’t developed reading habits, I think it’s better to start with short sessions. For beginners, I recommend grownups to start by reading bedtime stories.

Again, kids being kids, most of them wouldn’t enjoy reading in the beginning. Therefore, I suggest you find your child’ interests. If your little one is in kindergarten/preschool, begin with books like The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Molly Mouse and The Bear Cub, The Gingerbread Man, and The Giving Tree, etc.

If your little one goes to middle school, I recommend Anne of Green Gables, El Deafo, Famous Five, Holes, Small Spaces, and the ever-classic Harry Potter series, etc.

The Art of Sequencing

When it comes to creative writing, the art of sequencing or structure plays an important role. A writer may have exciting, new ideas, but without a proper structure, the ideas wouldn’t reach the readers.

But the question is, how to teach sequencing to children?

Always start with Beginning, Middle, and End. If your child is in kindergarten or primary classes, the best way to teach beginning, middle, and the end is with storybooks like The Gingerbread Man and The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

Read the stories with them repeatedly. After reading it twice or thrice, take them through the book and ask them to retell the story by looking at the pictures. When they can do that, it’s time to teach sequencing.

Ask them questions like:

What happens in the beginning?

What happens in the middle?

What happens in the end?

At this point, some children may be hesitant to answer these questions. Dear parents, don’t be nervous at this point. It’s perfectly okay for a little one to be hesitant. I recommend using drawing as a process. Simply ask them to draw what happens in the beginning, middle, and end.

If your child is a middle schooler or a high schooler, you can use the same technique—beginning, middle, and end. But, here, add some challenges according to their levels.

For middle schoolers, ask them to do the following:

Summarize their favorite movie or story.

Use transitional phrases and words while sequencing explaining the beginning, middle, and end. This will not only teach them how to sequence events but also help them to observe minute details of a story.

For high schoolers, ask them the following questions:

What are your favorite books, TV shows, and movies?

Which one do you wish had a different ending?

How would you like it to end?

You can ask them to write their version of the story with a proper beginning, middle, and end. In addition to that, high schoolers must be able to differentiate between plot and story. Ask them to describe the setting as well.

Revision

Although revision is a very tedious job for children, it’s an unavoidable step of creative writing. In fact, many writers think revision is what provides depth and shape to a piece of writing. You may be able to convince them to write, but revision is almost next to impossible when it comes to children. No matter how you convince them, there is only a handful of kids who agree to revise.

However, if you use the right tricks and turn revision into a fun activity, your child may learn to revise at an early age.

When your child finishes working on a piece of writing, never ask them to revise immediately. Let it rest on the table for at least two to three days. Next, encourage them to perform it.

If they wrote a story, ask them to read it loud and perform it like a storyteller. Moreover, you can also make an impromptu stage in the living room or at the dining table before dinner. In case they wrote an essay or an article, ask them to perform it like a speech.

But if your child is shy, don’t push them too hard. Even loud reading would do the job. This will help them hear what they wrote. Besides getting conscious about the sentences, they will also develop a sense of punctuation and pauses.

Once your child adapts all the above points as habits, then, only then, it’s time to move to the next step—grammar.

To conclude, creative writing is indeed a difficult arena, but with the right skills at hand, any child can be a creative writer. In case if you are finding it difficult to teach creative writing at home, you can always hire a professional creative writing teacher.

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