Spark Creativity in Your Child: Write Fiction

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Are you ready to help your child transition from being a casual storyteller to a budding author? Are you ready to teach your child to write?

When it comes to writing, it’s natural for children to need guidance, and for many writers, the writing process is an intimidating endeavor. However, developing these skills can be a beneficial and empowering experience for your child, one that will provide them with lifelong confidence.

In this article, you will learn the essential steps for teaching your child to write effectively so that they can turn their ideas into reality. You’ll learn the importance of creating an environment that encourages creativity and discovers the power of tracking progress, developing a routine, and forming inspiring habits.

By the time you reach the end of this article, you’ll have all the resources you need to support your child in becoming an active participant in the world of writing. You’ll be challenged to spark creativity and write fiction!

Spark Creativity: Write Fiction

By Felice Gerwitz

Many children overflow with wonder, imagination, and sometimes crazy ideas. But others look at that blank paper before them, pen grasped with a deer-in-the-headlights fear. Frustrated, parents often resort to canned curriculum, expensive online resources, or teacher-directed lessons, which can leave a child with papers that mimic those of the adult teacher rather than anything from their imagination.

Tools Necessary to Write

Reading, writing, and arithmetic are the staples in most homeschool homes, but fiction often takes a back seat. Even if your child enjoys writing, it may be sporadic at best, with many beginning but not finishing the task at hand.

The idea of this brief article is to give you the tools necessary to write. For a comprehensive guide to writing good fiction, I highly recommend “Reach for the Stars: A Young Author’s Fiction Workbook” by Susan K. Marlow.” Susan is the author of a series of novels for a traditional Christian publisher. For those of you (like me) who shun workbooks, please know the word is used because the children can write in this book if desired. That is where the “workbook” title comes in rather than a formula approach.

Teaching Your Child the Elements of Good Fiction

Before you can begin writing fiction, your child needs to understand the elements of good fiction. These should be memorized and placed in the top corner of your child’s rough draft (by your child). Keeping a reminder in order for the elements to be covered in the work is useful. The five elements of good fiction are character, setting, problem, plot, and solution.

I highly recommend you teach literature analysis with age-appropriate books. Your child can pick out each of those elements with your help, to begin with, and then can continue this with additional books until they understand what the elements mean and where there is an emphasis of one over the other. Some literature is plot-driven, while others are character driven.

Putting the Writing Puzzle Pieces Together

Teaching the elements of good fiction is part of the battle, but how do you put those puzzle pieces together into a story that your children will be happy to share with family and friends? Part of the battle is attitude. “Oh, my child is not creative,” one parent shared. Determining whether or not the child has been creative in the past has nothing to do with the future is the first obstacle to overcome.

Developing Characters for Your Story

Taking each element of fiction, we can layout out a wonderful story. The place I like to begin is the character. In the show I hosted on Blog Talk Radio (Information in a Nutshell: Radio for Authors), I interview many fiction authors and rarely does an author write plot motivated narrative. Most of the authors write character-driven novels. Why? Because your character can be so many different things limited to your imagination. So how do you spark that creative imagination in your child? Ask questions.

The Art of a Good Question

A good story or story idea begins with asking questions. This appears in children at the age of two. Many children speak at this age, and that is the time of the hundreds of questions. “Mommy, why is the sky blue?”, “Mommy? Why is the grass green?”, “Mommy? Mommy? Mommy?” By the third Mommy, we have become bleary-eyed and wonder, WHY does my child ask so many questions? Well, after the first two-year-old experience, we quickly learn this is a state of extreme learning, and the children are asking questions to learn. Many times a harried parent squelches this inquisitive mind by telling the children to stop asking so many questions.

 

Do you realize the WHY is an important element used in creative writing?

Adding to the “why” is the “what” or the “What if?” question. Deciding on the main character’s gender, supporting characters if any, and place to set the story is another hurdle. Will this be an adventure story? Or maybe be a mystery? Will this be historical fiction? Could it be a story set in the future? Once your child determines character gender and locale, you are ready to begin.

 

Here is an example of the dialogue you can have with your child who has determined the story is an adventure in the wilds of the rain forest with the main character being a sullen city kid named Chad:

  1. Why is  Chad in the rainforest?
  2. Where is his family? Does he have a family?
  3. Is this situation life-threatening? If so, why?
  4. Why is Chad sullen?
  5. Where is Chad heading? Does he have a guide?
  6. What decision can Chad make that is life-threatening?
  7. What happens that makes Chad even more upset about the situation?
  8. Is he lost alone at any time?

Perhaps you have difficulty deciding on a character and a setting. For those seriously “idea” impaired, I begin with a beloved story and have them add a character. Most children do not like to write, so I’d begin with an oral telling of the story, let’s say “Anne of Green Gables,” and add another friend named “Henry” who is the class clown and he is always getting himself in trouble.

Here are some surefire ways to spark your child’s creativity:

  1. Play acting. If your child is stuck, have her act out the role.
  2. Story starters. Use canned ideas that end with a cliffhanger in order to jump-start your child’s ideas.
  3. Discuss great movies. Discuss how the plot might have changed if the character made a different decision.

 Resources:

 


Felice Gerwitz is a homeschool mom, author, and publisher, owner of Media Angel, Inc. She and her then-homeschooled daughter, Christina (now graduated and an adult) penned three novels for teens that are all in their second printing. Felice teaches online writing classes, hosts a podcast for aspiring authors each week, and has 17 books to her credit, with eight titles chosen by Cathy Duffy in her Top 100 Picks for Homeschooling Curriculum.

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