Primary schoolers must start picking creative writing skills as early as P1, to write good compos and essays.
Creative writing for primary school students can be most directly linked to the compositions they have to write in school.
However, the art and skills of creative writing can be discovered beyond schoolwork. After all, everything begins as words on paper. Movies begin as scripts, books begin as drafts, and even game storylines begin with a penned-down narrative.
Creative writing might seem like a daunting skill for children to pick up, but with their vivid imaginations, it’s a great time to introduce storytelling and story writing skills to them.
Creative writing classes for kids will help to turn their imaginations into structured storylines, teaching them to focus and hone in on the parts of a great story. Here, we will offer some creative writing lesson ideas that you can use to help kickstart creative writing for primary school students.
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Creative writing classes for kids will no doubt introduce your child to the 3-Act structure, the most straightforward approach to storytelling. This structure primarily consists of the Beginning, Middle and Ending of a story – but what exactly goes into these parts of the story?
At the start of a story, the author should aim to set up the story that he/she is about to write. The author should immerse the reader into the story’s world, usually by setting the scene or introducing the story’s main character.
The setting of the story is more than just describing the weather. While that is a possible start, there are other descriptors that the author can focus on.
Where is the main character? Is it a crowded place? Who surrounds the main character? What are these people doing? The other characters around the main character is a detail we will come back to.
If the main character is alone, what is he/she doing? Is there something else the main character might want to be doing? What are some thoughts they might be having? This allows the author to set up the story conflict right at the start of the story.
Introducing the main character focuses on creating the main character’s personality. What kind of person is the main character? Is he/she a hot-headed individual who acts without regard for anyone else? Is he/she a sympathetic individual who goes out of their way to aid a person in need? How do his/her actions or looks show this personality? Does he/her care what other people think of him/her?
This starting is more effective when the main character’s personality causes a conflict in the story later on.
In the middle of the story, the author develops the problem. There are two main ways a problem occurs – through a conflict with another character or a situational conflict the main character is placed in or faces.
Is it a clash of character beliefs? A disagreement about the situation? A lack of communication? This is usually the most exciting part for authors as they are able to describe exactly what happens to the character in detail.
Though, it can also be the most difficult section to write as these details might be hard to come up with. You might have heard of ‘Show not Tell’, a key technique used in the middle of the story. We will elaborate on ‘Show not Tell’ below.
Finally, the ending of the story is where everything the author has set up so far finally pays off. People often overlook the end in favor of the problem, but the ending is just as important as the rest of your story.
Authors have to remember that for the problem they have set up to reach its full potential, the story’s resolution has to match its level of detail; it has to conclude and resolve the problem effectively to show that the problem has been appropriately dealt with.
After all, every problem needs a solution. Sometimes, that solution comes in the form of a lesson your main character has learnt or a consequence your main character faces. The intensity of these lessons learnt / consequences faced must match the intensity of the problem.
If the main character lied, they could be reprimanded lightly, but they should be punished more severely if the main character stole something. Remember, don’t dismiss or rush through the ending. It should be just as detailed as the problem. How? By using ‘Show not Tell’!
The reader needs to be able to picture what we’re writing, and the two most important descriptors are the characters and the settings. Starting with the characters, the best way to ‘Show not Tell’ is through action and speech tags – how they act and how they speak.
Instead of saying: He ran as fast as he could. He was panting when he arrived at school just seconds before the bell rang. He heaved a sigh of relief.
Say: He ran at the speed of light, weaving between other pedestrians. With his heavy schoolbag rattling against his back, every footstep thundered against the ground. He tore past the school gate with just seconds to spare! The school bell rang sharply as he hunched over, placing his hands on his knees, taking a moment to catch his breath. Finally, he straightened himself and made his way to the assembly hall, relieved that he had made it to school on time.
See how the rewrite was instead able to capture more senses than just sight? There were also sentences of sound and touch offered to the reader, allowing this scene to spring to life in their minds!
Instead of saying: “That was rude,” she snapped, “Apologise immediately!”
Say: “That was rude,” she interrupted his rant with a sharp tone, drawing everyone’s attention to her instead. In the disbelieving silence that followed, she pointed at him, then at the person he had been rude to. “Apologise immediately,” she commanded.
The rewrite offers a reaction from the surrounding characters of her speech, solidifying an image in the reader’s mind. She didn’t just interrupt him; an unexpected interruption left other characters speechless.
The rewrite also added an action, another visualisation point for the reader, and a second speech tag to convey that she has taken control of the situation.
Similarly, the same ‘Show not Tell’ idea can be applied to the story’s setting!
Instead of saying: It was a sunny day. The basketball team was perspiring during their training session.
Say: The sun was blazing hot that day, glowering at everyone beneath. The basketball team shifted their weight uncomfortably from foot to foot as they stood on the basketball court, the ground beneath them becoming as hot as a sizzling pan. Still, they squinted through the glare of the relentless sun and wiped their perspiration away with a hand, trying their best to pay attention to their coach.
In the rewrite, we’ve shown the physical effect of the sun on the basketball team. It isn’t just hot; the sun is also affecting their ability to pay attention.
This helps to link the weather to the story, as this distraction and exhaustion of the team could be used to set up a later problem in the story.
Instead of saying: The shopping centre was crowded. I stood shoulder to shoulder with the person next to me as we waited for the shop to open.
Say: We were packed like sardines in the shopping centre. Surrounded by stale air, I could not escape the stench of the man beside me. I was not the only one who wrinkled my nose and tried to turn away from him. He seemed completely unaware of how uncomfortable those around him were, his eyes glued to the giant clock above us. Hoping to distract myself, I drew my eyes up to watch the second hand of the clock tick by. Tick, tick, tick… Every second felt like it lasted forever. The shop could not open soon enough to alleviate my discomfort.
In this rewrite, what’s interesting is the use of time. It was crowded because everyone was waiting for the shop to open, and it must have been near the opening time for it to be so crowded.
The shop opening would have allowed this character to escape this situation. Instead, every passing second felt like ages because the main character despised every second of standing next to that individual. Even a second more would have been too long.
As we’ve seen in the ‘Show not Tell’ examples above, the main character does not exist in a bubble! The actions of other characters are often overlooked.
Other characters exist in the same space as the main character, and describing their actions and reactions can help to bring the main character’s surroundings to life. Other characters often have two reactions to the main character’s actions or the situation faced – they either help or hurt the main character.
They either work with or against the main character, and it can be a way to help move the story along!
If an author is stuck with the plot and is trying to figure out how to continue, considering the actions and reactions of surrounding characters can be a way to continue the plot.
Besides sending your child to creative writing classes for kids, these are some everyday techniques that you can use to help your child develop their creative writing skills!
Reading fiction helps children to learn visualisation skills. As they can better pick up and visualise the smaller details written into every scene by the author, they will also begin to realise that with the right words, they can also create the same effect and visual imagery in their readers’ minds.
Some creative writing lesson ideas are to examine a scene from a movie or a show with your child and get them to write down in as much detail as possible what he/she had just seen. This helps to develop the child’s keenness in both spotting the minute details in every scene and helps to develop the image they can picture in their mind.
Remember, the best way to develop creative writing for primary school children is to use their imagination to your advantage – turn the media they are exposed to into creative writing lesson ideas that you can use.
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