or interest as a springboard gives them a deeper sense of agency, which in turn is a powerful motivator - more powerful than being told what to write. Having said that, it’s useful to provide a few examples to get their research going – hummingbirds are the only birds that fly backwards; Venus and Uranus rotate backwards (facts not involving retrograde movement are also available). Fact selected, it’s time to transform it into a story.

‘Pass the Person’ Prompter

After contextualising characters as being like people in our real lives (i.e. they’re what make life interesting), gather an assortment of costume accessories in a box. Seat your young writers in a circle and play music as they pass the box, as you would to play pass the parcel. When the music stops, the person holding the box picks an item from it to prompt ideas for a character – what kind of person would wear a hat/scarf/cape/helmet like this? To accompany this activity, create a character profile worksheet with space to fill out things like character name, age, occupation, likes and dislikes. Completed worksheets can be used as the basis for individuals’ short stories. To deliver this remotely, pick an item yourself and ask individuals to come up with a character based on the item.

Writing with purpose

Discovering the pleasure of writing goes hand in hand with writing for purpose i.e. having a reason to write is hugely motivational, and often intrinsic to unlocking a lasting love of writing. Here are a few ideas to do just that:

Make a magazine or newspaper

Budding writers could take on expert roles as, for example, news reporters, sports correspondents, book reviewers and comic strip creators to make their own magazine. The sense of ownership prompts enthusiasm and a strong sense of purpose, especially if the finished work will have an audience.

Arrange a Festival of Words

Easily adaptable for a school or home context, holding a Festival of Words is a fun way to celebrate and showcase creativity. Task individuals to create work to perform at a live event (in person or online). Short stories and plays; poems and comedy sketches – think of it as a talent show of the written word.

Write for reward

Entering writing competitions is a great motivator, offering the thrilling possibility of winning a prize alongside a sense of being part of something bigger. Highlights include the Henrietta Branford Writing Competition 2021 that’s run in conjunction with the prestigious Branford Boase Award and open to anyone aged 19 and under with an entry deadline of 23rd May 2021. Alternatively, the Radio 2 500 Words short story competition is open to children of 13 and under.

Writing resources How-to creative writing books

How to Write Your Best Story Ever by Christopher Edge The Usborne Creative Writing Book by Louise Stowell How to Write a Story by Simon Cheshire You Can Write Awesome Stories by Joanne Owen

Recommended online resources has a brilliant

“stay at home” activity

hub and information about online events and workshops hosted by authors and illustrators. Similarly, offers a daily “10-minute challenge” set by talents from the children’s book arena.

The National Literacy Trust is a treasure trove of fun book-themed resources, especially the Words for Life site. Booktrust’s Hometime offering includes activities and competitions, while the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education has a host of free resources covering story-writing, poetry and developing imaginative skills.

Joanne Owen is a writer, reviewer and workshop presenter. Her books for children include the Martha Mayhem series and You Can Write Awesome Stories, an interactive how-to guide to creative writing.

Books for Keeps No.247 March 2021 5

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