One of the most common obstacles for a writer is the ability to come up with story ideas. Though all children, and adults for that matter, have them lodged somewhere in their brains, the trick is getting them out and on paper. So what are the best writing tips for kids to release their inner Shakespeare and develop a great plot line? Here are a few ideas to try out…
Draw on real life experiences.
One of the best writing tips for kids for finding great story ideas is to draw on real-life experiences. Has your child recently won a big game? Overcome an obstacle? Reached a goal they set for themselves? These experiences can be used not only as the basis for a story, but to draw out emotions in the reader as well.
Keep a creative notebook.
One of the simplest writing tips for kids is to keep a creative notebook to log interesting phrases and conversations they overhear; notes about images, locations, and people; or just thoughts about the world around them. Items logged in a creative notebook can easily result in new ideas, dialogue, plot twists, and more for an upcoming story.
For children having difficulty deciding on a plot, encourage brainstorming. For each of your child’s possible plot lines, have them examine multiple possible outcomes. This will often help them identify their best option. Example: Suppose you have a protagonist that suffered a sports injury during a game at the beginning of the season. What are the possible results? He or she could discover another passion, the injury is overcome, the player becomes a coach, and so on.
Play “What if…”
This is one of the most effective writing tips for kids when you’re brainstorming story ideas. Start with “what if” and fill in the rest with ideas from common to crazy!
Have your child sit down somewhere, such as a park, restaurant, or coffee shop, and write down not only what they observe but conversations they are exposed to. Overheard stories offer ample opportunity for creativity, especially when changed slightly and given a fun creative twist.
Use visual stimulation.
From newspaper photographs to surrealistic paintings, parks, and other interesting geographic locations, images can evoke both emotion and creative ideas in your children.
Reading the works of other writers, ranging from classic books to local newspaper columns, can inspire an array of story ideas your child may not otherwise be able to come up with on their own. Bonus: This is one of the writing tips for kids that can also improve their vocabulary, grammar, and reading retention!
Great ideas often come from the simple act of writing regularly, whether it’s a paragraph or a full-blown essay. This can be one of the most difficult writing tips for kids, however, especially when they’d rather be glued to the TV or the computer. Writing for even just 20 minutes a day, however, keeps creative juices flowing and prevents stagnation. For a fun creative writing exercise when your child (or you) are drawing a blank, try Scholastic Story Starters.
Don’t overthink it! Ideas are more easily generated when you write as much as you can, as quickly as you can. Explain to your child there is no need to think about the complete story or even sentence structure when trying to come up with a plot line or purge ideas onto paper. A large volume of unencumbered writing allows the brain to unload, often containing a wealth of story possibilities and a variety of thoughts that can be incorporated into your child’s work later on.
Consult an expert.
One-on-one lessons with a great tutor who has writing and publishing experience can really help your child develop their writing skills. Established authors, teachers, and tutors can help young writers with the creative process, plot line and story structure, grammar, and style, challenging them in ways the typical parent cannot. Tutors are seen as an unbiased source, so the encouragement and constructive criticism they give can be incredibly helpful.
The next time your child is spending hours staring at a blank page, help them set their ideas free with these simple writing tips for kids. Get those creative juices flowing and they’ll be hard-pressed to put the pencil down!
Photo by Alexandratx