Six ways into creative writing

David Almond with notebook

A strong reading culture and a strong writing culture go hand in hand. By spending more time on creative writing, you can boost your reading and your writing culture in one go! If your pupils are reluctant writers or you're looking for some new ideas to try, here are six different ways to approach creative writing in your classroom.

Hear from the experts

Authors are the masters of the writing craft and they have some fantastic tips to share. Perhaps you are lucky enough to have an author visiting you in your school, but if not BBC Authors Live is a great option. The broadcasts with Phil Earle, Joseph Coelho and David Almond have some great creative writing tips which are easily transferable to a classroom setting.

Blackout poetryLost Words Poem

Creating a poem for the first time can seem a bit daunting, but with the blackout poetry technique all the words you need are already provided! This creative approach uses a block of text as the starting point - a photocopied page from a book will do. Pupils then colour over all of the words they don't want to use to reveal their poem. It's a great way to encourage children to think carefully about each word and how they can fit together to create something new. 

The possibilities for this are huge and varied, as demonstrated by Cuiken Primary School in Midlothian who used the technique to create poems for Remembrance Day and Mid Calder Primary School in West Lothian who used The Lost Words to create nature poetry. 

50 Word Fiction

Starting with a short piece of writing can be a great introduction to creative writing. Why not have a go at the Scottish Book Trust 50 Word Fiction competition? This is a monthly competition which comes with a prompt, so it's easy to incorporate into your plans as a regular activity. Focusing on such a short piece is a great way to get children thinking about their word choice and editing their own work.

Write for someone else

Writing for a purpose can really get pupils thinking about how to tailor their writing to a particular reader. If they are writing for younger children, pupils can  draw on their own personal experience of stories they enjoyed at a particular age. They can also get a huge amount of satisfaction and pride when they see their story being read and enjoyed by others.

A lovely example of this comes from St John Ogilvie Primary School in North Ayrshire, where the P5 pupils wrote their own fairy tales to read aloud to P1 pupils on World Book Day.

Take inspiration from books Fall into a book display

If your class are currently enjoying a great read together, or have favourite books that they love talking about, you can use this as a creative writing prompt. Pupils could try writing an alternative ending or deleted scene, or invent their own character. We particularly love this example from Whitelees Primary School in North Lanarkshire, where pupils imagined falling into their favourite book and wrote about what they would find there.

Free Writing Friday

One of the most exciting things about creative writing is the freedom and limitless possibilities it provides! Encourage pupils not to fear the blank page and set aside some time for them to write whatever they like. It can seem daunting at first, but giving them space and  complete freedom can yield fantastic results and help them develop a real love for writing. Children's Laureate Cressida Cowell advocates this approach in her Free Writing Friday Campaign which many schools take part in - here are some pupils at St Peter's Primary School in Edinburgh in action. 

How do you approach creative writing with the young people you work with? If you try any of these ideas or have different ones to recommend we would love to hear about them. Tag us on Twitter @FMReadChallenge

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