Creative Writing Prompts

by Marianne

What are some creative writing prompts I can use to encourage writing and develop the skill of narration?

Narration is firstly an oral skill and then transferred into writing. A passage, a paragraph, a chapter or a story is read and the child is then asked "What was that about?" Initially, it will be the parent who transfers the spoken word onto paper. Later on, the child can copy part of their own narration and finally write their own.
Read more in Ways to Teach Writing.

Here are some Narration Starters which you can use as creative writing prompts. Remember these can be used for both oral and written narrations. You don't need to cover every question for every story! You don't need to write down answers to all these! In fact, I mostly use the top 2 questions for my narrations, keeping it very simple and yet, employing the art of sequence and description. These are just ideas of what you may ask depending on the age of the child and the story you have just read - helping them to retell different aspects of the story by focusing on character/ setting/ conflict/ resolution and point of view.

General Creative Writing Prompts after reading a Story

  • What happened in the story? (sequence)
  • What was your favourite part?... Why?
  • What was the most exciting part of the story?
  • Do you think this story is true? Why or why not? (fact/fiction)

Writing Prompts about Characters

  • Tell me about....
  • If you were in the book/story, which character would you want to be? Why? (Protagonist)
  • Who was the 'good guy' in the story? (proagonist)
  • What did they do that they liked?
  • Were they always good? Did they have any weaknesses? (strength of character) Tell me how you know this? What did the character say or do which shows us his weakness?
  • Is there someone else you know or have read about that are similar to ....this character? (comparison)
  • Tell me why he/she did .....?(motives) Was that right to do?
  • Why do you think he made that choice?
  • Desribe what you think he/she looked like. Draw a picture of them in as much detail as you can.
  • How did the way they looked affect what they did? (physical characteristics)
  • Do you think this character was clever? Why or why not?
  • Which character didn't you like? Why? (Antagonist)
  • Was this character the 'bad guy' in the story?
  • How do you know he was the bad guy? What did he do or say that showed you he was the 'bad guy'?
  • What do you think he looked like? Draw him/her.
  • What made him do .... (a certain action)?(motives)
  • Why didn't he like....?
  • What weaknesses can you see in his character?
  • Is there someone else he/she reminds you of?
  • Why don't you want to be like him/her?

Creative Writing Prompts about Setting

  • Describe where the story took place.
  • Does it sound like a nice place to be? Why or why not?
  • Was the story in the old times, now or in the future? How do you know? (time)
  • Would this be a good story if it was set in a different time? How would that work?
  • What did the characters wear? Does that tell us something about when the story took place? (clothing style and type).
  • If you wrote the story into a different time, what would your characters wear or dress like?
  • What other things were mentioned in the story that tell us when the story took place? Do you think they had all the inventions we have today? Or more? (time period)
  • Describe what the land was like in this story? Was it in the mountains, valley, city, beach, desert...) How do you know? Tell me what you remember about the place where they lived.

Writing Prompts around the Conflict

  • Tell me what happened in the story? first, second, third...
  • Was there a big problem that happened in the story?
  • When did things start to go wrong? (what was the conflict or problem in the story?)
  • Did you get a feeling that something bad was going to happen? How did you know that? (foreshadowing)
  • Why do you think this happened?
  • If you were there, what would you have done? Why?
  • How did all the characters feel about this?
  • Could they have done anything to stop it from happening?
  • How did all this make you feel when you were listening to the story?
  • What do you want to happen? How would you fix the problem?

Creative Writing Prompts about the Resolution
  • How was the problem solved?
  • Was it a happy or sad ending?
  • Di you like the ending? Why or why not?
  • How did the characters feel about the way it worked out?
  • Would you have solved the problem in another way? Tell me about it.
  • Did you think the story was going to end that way?
  • What made you think that was going to happen?
  • Was the ending a surprise? Why or why not?

Writing about the Point of View

  • Who told this story? How do you know?
  • Was this story happening in the past, present or future? (tense)
  • Write a paragraph again, but change the tense - from past to present; from present to future... etc.
  • Copy a paragraph and write it from first person point of view (the narrator uses "I"); or change into third person point of view (refering to the characters as "he,she, them".

Remember, you don't need to ask all these question. They are just examples of narration starters you may wish you use at different times and ages. These can be used as creative writing prompts based around a story or a familiar paragraph.

See these Creative Writing Exercises and other free writing resources here.

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