Creative Writing Ideas for Children and Teenagers

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Creative writing ideas for children and teenagers

  • How do writers write?
  • How do you write?
  • Where do creative writing ideas come from? 

Creative kids are everywhere. I’m always astonished at the sophistication of some young people’s writing. You can find a lot of good writing by young writers on the social media sites like Instagram and Facebook.

Do you like to write?

Even if you think you don’t like writing, or that you don’t write, think about this: do you write emails? Text messages? School work? Do you post on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest? Do you write a blog? Without even realising it, you are writing all the time.

We all write even if we think we don’t.

So how do writers write? and where do their ideas come from?

I’m going to show you rather than tell you. ‘Showing’ rather than ‘telling’ is also a technique in writing that you may have heard about. But more on that in another blog …

The example that follows shows just how important it is to READ and to use WORDS, in our writing and in our speaking. Although I’ve used this example in a previous blog, it’s worth repeating.

  • In 1974, there were 475,000 words in common use in the English language
  • That had gone down to 215,000 commonly used words by 1995
  • In 2006, it was believed to have reduced further to 90,000 words

What does this mean? The people who write dictionaries use the words that are in common use, i.e. the words that most people know and understand. That means that the less common words – words that actually make our language richer – are being left out. That means they might eventually be forgotten. How can we make a difference and help to reverse this trend? By reading a lot and using a richer vocabulary. By using the dictionary to look up words we don’t know. Everyone needs to use a dictionary throughout their life. I am a professional writer and editor, yet I use a dictionary every day, to check on spellings and the correct use of words.

And this might sound strange, but the OLDER the dictionary – especially a very good one like the Oxford dictionary – the better. Why do you think that might be? One reason is that the older the dictionary, the more of these ‘lost’ words you can find.

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Use a good dictionary and a thesaurus

 How

How do you write?

When

When do you write? What time of the day, and how often?

Where

Where do you write?

What

What do you write about? Do you write creative pieces, or emails and texts, or posts on Facebook or other social media?

If you enjoy writing, and want to practise creative writing, here are some ideas to help you:

  • It helps to have a QUIET place to write
  • Keeping a JOURNAL or a DIARY is a really good way to write regularly. No one else needs to read this. It can be your private thoughts and feelings, a vivid dream you’ve had, a description of a beautiful sunset …
  • You can enter writing COMPETITIONS. These are advertised on the internet and in writing magazines
  • You can join a writing group. Many writing associations have specific groups for young writers.

But most of all, YOU WRITE BY WRITING!

Creativity

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The mythical unicorn embodies magic and wonder

Writing is a creative process. I don’t believe there should be too many rules. For every writer there’s a different ‘how’ and ‘when’ and ‘where’. When you read about the writing habits of famous authors, every one of them has different suggestions to make.

As to ‘why’ we write, most writers would agree that it’s something we need to do, almost as much as we need to eat and breathe, but on a soul level rather than on a physical level. I love this quote from Pearl S. Buck, which expresses so well the powerful drive behind a writer’s need to write.

The truly creative mind in any field is no more than this: A human creature born abnormally, inhumanely sensitive. To them … a touch is a blow, a sound is a noise, a misfortune is a tragedy, a joy is an ecstasy, a friend is a lover, a lover is a god, and failure is death. Add to this cruelly delicate organism the overpowering necessity to create, create, create – so that without the creating of music or poetry or books or buildings or something of meaning, their very breath is cut off … They must create, must pour out creation. By some strange, unknown, inward urgency they are not really alive unless they are creating. (Pearl S. Buck)

To diverge briefly, Pearl S. Buck was an American writer and novelist (1892–1973). The daughter of missionaries, she spent most of her life before 1934 in China. Her novel The Good Earth was the best-selling fiction book in the U.S. in 1931 and 1932, winning the Pulitzer Prize in 1932. She was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1938 for her depictions of peasant life in China. She was an amazing woman and well worth Googling to find out more about her!

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Pearl S. Buck wrote about her life in China

Writer’s block

Have you heard of ‘writer’s block’? Do you know what it means? When you’re a writer and you want to write something but the ideas don’t flow, it’s called writer’s block.  You can read these suggestions.

Here is another exercise to UNBLOCK. It might help not only to unblock your creativity, but also lead you to write a great story.

Creative ideas to overcome writer’s block

Write ten short, easy sentences – write them one by one, using a KEY WORD or a KEY IDEA for each sentence. It’s best to use SIMPLE words, and to write just ONE SHORT SENTENCE for each key word.

Just write. Don’t think too much. Here are some examples. You can use these or make up your own.

  1. Key word – weather
  2. Key word – an inanimate object. Example: a rock
  3. Key word – an article of clothing. Example: a pair of shoes
  4. Key word – what is the weather doing now? Example: raining
  5. Key word – a sound. Example: a continuous background sound, like a bell ringing
  6. Key word – a mood or feeling.  Connect the mood or feeling to the inanimate object. Even if it’s the rock, just go with it! Keep your creative mind open
  7. Key word – an outstanding character trait. Example: blackened and missing teeth. This is the first glimpse of one of your characters
  8. Key word – a sound. The same as before; make it happen again. In the example above, the bell ringing
  9. Key word – another article of clothing. Example: a woollen jacket. Link it to a physical action; a character may put it on or take it off
  10. Key word – first piece of dialogue. Make it unexpected. Simple. A question or a statement.

A premise or story idea

Now, start with a PREMISE – an IDEA for your story. Choose one of the following premises – just one – or make up your own:

  1. On a dark night you’re returning home from violin practice when you’re stopped by …
  2. Your best friend calls to tell you she’s watching a scary movie …
  3. A black cat crosses your path and …
  4. Mary Poppins turns up at your door and says …
  5. You go for a walk in the mountains and can’t find the path back …
  6. You win $10,000,000 in the Lotto
  7. Write about a picture you like.
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Writing your story

Putting it all together

Now start writing, using your PREMISE and the KEY WORDS and KEY IDEAS you came up with earlier.

Write no more than two pages.

If you find your idea expanding, write some more tomorrow, and the next day, and the next …

Before you know it, you might even find yourself writing a novel!

Have fun with your creative writing

Send me an email to tell me what you’re writing about, and how you’re going with your writing.

 

Client Testimonial: a Children’s Author

Recommending Gail of editors4you is my pleasure! Throughout the entire process of manuscript appraisal and editing, Gail’s positive and constructive feedback at each review of Gruntz made the task of fine-tuning certain elements easy to achieve. She listens to your reasoning on particular characters and themes and offers clear and concise suggestions to progress the story for readability and consistency.

Thank you again, Gail, for your professional attention and time with Book One–Gruntz: Finding zO!—Trish Teske, Gruntz: Finding zO (children’s novel)

Five Creative Steps for Overcoming Writer’s Block

Many authors experience writer’s block at times. Writer’s block attracts a plethora of helpful and not-so-helpful solutions, among them suggestions to take a break from writing, go for a walk, drink coffee…the list goes on. These solutions apply to solving issues with boredom or procrastination – which is fine if one of these happens to be the underlying cause of the block. We offer five creative steps for overcoming writer’s block.

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Writer’s block: don’t throw it away yet

We suggest that writer’s block is an issue with creativity. Whether the writer is struggling to make a story work, or is unable to come up with a new idea, the underlying problem is that the writer’s creativity is overworked and needs time off.

We’ve come up with five creative steps for overcoming writer’s block.

Enjoy the following unusual and inventive methods to kick-start your creativity back into gear.

Step 1 – A change of scenery

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Go somewhere high, go somewhere new

Moving out of your normal workspace is a great start, but walking around the same boring park you know like the back of your hand won’t do you any good. (You’ll know a change of scene is needed when you start using clichés like ‘the back of your hand’…) Make sure your displacement is worth the effort.

Try to get to the highest point that you can reach. Take a notebook and pen for scribbling down the ideas that flow. Can you access the roof of your building? Are there any hills or natural features around that you can safely climb? Think about where the best view in your neighbourhood is and go there. To save yourself some legwork, challenge your friends on Facebook to come up with the best local view – you might receive some interesting responses!

Step 2 – Distract yourself

Once you have given your eyes something new to experience, give your other senses the same treatment. Go to the busiest, loudest, most inappropriate public place to write that you can think of, and do not leave until you’ve finished at least 500 words. Francine Prose, a contemporary American author, is most productive when she finds her environment boring. If you are the same, then go somewhere that you find deadly dull and boring, not somewhere stimulating. Instead of working on your current project, which you need a break from, pick a random person and invent their life story. Keep safe. In your car on the motorway might not be the safest place.

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Distract yourself safely

Step 3 – Live a Day in Your Character’s Skin

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Live a day in your character’s skin

Having broken out of old patterns, it’s time to return to the work you’re stuck on. Don’t start writing again just yet. First, try experiencing your story in a more practical sense. Pick a character, major or minor, and go about your daily routine with the idea of them in your mind. Imagine how they would behave if they were experiencing your everyday reality.

When you speak, think about what they would say and how they would say it. Pay attention to the choices you make – the clothing you wear, the music you listen to, the meals you eat –and think about what they would choose in your place. If they were narrating your day, what perspective would they offer? Putting a character inside your mind is a great way to get yourself inside theirs.

Step 4 – Borrow Someone Else’s Story

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Borrow someone else’s story – temporarily

No, we’re not suggesting that you plagiarise! This is a private writing exercise for evaluating your understanding of your characters and their world. Obviously, you shouldn’t publish the results.

If you are struggling with a character, take them out of their comfort zone by moving them into another author’s world. Altered circumstances and rules will make your character behave differently. To get them through their altered circumstances in a way that is true to them and to their new world, you will need to contemplate fresh aspects of their personality.

This works best if the world you choose is from a completely different genre from the one you are currently writing. Bear in mind that the focus isn’t on the other author’s work, but on how your creations react to it. How would the hero of your romance novel handle being named captain of the Starship Enterprise? What if tomorrow your action heroine woke up in Mr Darcy’s guest bedroom? What would be different if your entire story took place in the world of Disney?

If you don’t want to focus too strongly on a single character, or you prefer to stay within the world you’ve created, try taking a single element out of another author’s work and sticking it right in the middle of yours. What would happen if a gateway to Narnia opened up in your character’s workplace? What if Batman roamed the character’s neighbourhood every night?

Step 5 – Destroy Your Story

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Destroy your story

 

…a little. It’s just a writing exercise. Take a step back from trying to find the perfect words and instead deliberately find the wrong ones. Stephen King has some suggestions about knowing when not to write. Open up a blank Word document and play with your story the way children play with toys; think of it as a holiday for your imagination.

Here are some ideas you might like to try:

  • The world will end in ten minutes. Be as concise and as absurd as you like, and resolve every plot point in your character’s final few moments
  • One of your characters is now a talking animal. This does not change their role in the story
  • Every character switches gender for one day
  • Every character gets exactly what they most want in life, but only for one hour
  • Arrange your characters’ names alphabetically, and then split them into pairs. Each pair is now soul mates
  • Your protagonist now has an imaginary friend, either an evil version of an existing character or a mythological creature of your choosing.

Have fun with your creations.

 

Checklist: five creative steps for overcoming writer’s block:

Step 1 – Change of Scenery

Find somewhere high in your neighbourhood

Go and check out the view

Take a break (but keep a notebook handy for scribbling down ideas)

Step 2 – Distract Yourself

Find the worst public place to write in

Pick a person

Write their life story

Don’t leave until you’re finished

Step 3 – Live a Day in your Character’s Skin

Pick a character and keep them in your mind

Go about your day

Try to experience everything from your character’s perspective

Step 4 – Borrow someone else’s story for a day

Pick your favourite book, movie or TV show

Choose one of your characters and move them into that world

Write about what happens, ensuring they stay in character

OR

Pick an interesting idea from your favourite book, movie or TV show

Introduce the idea into your story

Write about what happens, making sure you stay true to your own story

Step 5 – Destroy your story

Let loose your imagination. Go crazy. Write whatever you want.

(This post is a collaboration between editors4you.com and Rhiannon Raphael, a Bond University student currently undertaking an internship with editors4you.com)

Once you have overcome your writer’s block, email your manuscript to us for a MANUSCRIPT APPRAISAL. Our assessment will give you a clear idea of the strengths of your manuscript, as well as suggested areas for improvement – in the kindest, most productive way. To sign up for a MINI APPRAISAL on up to 2,000 words of your MANUSCRIPT for a nominal fee of $50 plus GST, email us now. You will receive this critique within 5 business days.