Writing stories is the perfect way for your child to unleash their inner artist. Creating an entirely new world with only a pen, some paper, and a whole heap of imagination can be hugely exciting and rewarding, and also makes for fun literacy practice – but it can be hard to know where to start.
Harriet Muncaster, creator of the Isadora Moon series, knows how difficult writers’ block can be. So, she has announced her creative writing challenge to focus your author-in-training and get them writing their best story yet!
Harriet Muncaster’s Writing Challenge
Harriet Muncaster challenges your child to write a story with a mash-up character. A superhero-cupcake? An elephant-helicopter? The choice is yours!
Is your child excited to try the creative writing challenge, but doesn’t know where to begin? Harriet’s free Guide to Writing Stories is bursting with tips and activities to help your child get inspiration, create characters, design exciting plots, and even edit and publish their stories. Here are our top tips, inspired by the guide.
1. Create a character
Instead of starting with a plot, it can sometimes help to create a character first. Having an interesting character makes it much easier to come up with exciting adventures, because your child can simply imagine the strange situations their character would find themselves in.
If your child likes drawing, they could try sketching their ideas first. Picture prompts, like these ones from The Literacy Shed, can help with inspiration. What kind of person or creature would live in a deep dark swamp? Or in an underwater city? Or on a distant planet?
2. Give your character problems
Once your child has created a strong character, they need a problem to overcome. For example, you might look at what your character most wants to do or have in the future. What could stop them from doing or getting that?
Your child’s character might want to:
- Win a competition
- Find their way home
- Rescue someone
- Defeat a dangerous monster
- Escape somewhere scary
Remember: easy problems make boring stories. If the problem is too easy to solve, then fixing it will be fast and unrewarding.
“When your character is solving a problem, it is usually a good idea to have them try two things that do not work, before they get it right on number three (think Goldilocks!).”
3. Describe your world
Even with interesting characters and an exciting plot, your child’s story will not come to life without vibrant vocabulary. Using the right words lets the reader see the amazing scenes your child is imagining!
Encourage your child to use adjectives to describe what their character is seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling, and tasting. Is that song quiet, deafening, screechy, or tinkling? Is that bridge enormous, tiny, strong, or rickety?
Similes are also great for inventive description. A simile is where you describe something as being like something else – for example, ‘the trains looked like giant metal caterpillars’, or ‘their eyes were round like saucers’.
4. Write lots!
This is Harriet’s most important tip. The more your child practises, the better they will get, and the more they will enjoy themselves!
For more advice and activities, download Harriet’s free Guide to Writing Stories.
More from Oxford Owl
- 4 tips to inspire children’s creative writing
- 4 fun ways to develop characters for a short story
- 4 top tips for writing great plots
- How to find the perfect words for your story
- Take a look at our creative writing YouTube playlist
- Christopher Edge’s How to Write Your Best Story Ever! page includes his top 10 tips to get your child writing, as well as free activity sheets.