Parent Primer: Creative Writing
Starting as early as 1st grade, your child may explore creative writing through journal-writing or simple poetry. He'll tackle the subject more extensively and with more challenging assignments from 4th or 5th grade through middle school. Prepare for this expressive journey by strengthening your own creativity, pinpointing what elements make a story, and defining key terms.
While you may have no trouble offering expertise when it comes to grammar, math, or science, giving advice on a creative writing assignment can be a bit trickier. How can you encourage your child? Let your aspiring writer simply space out or doodle ideas in a notebook, and see how far her imagination can fly. Then encourage her to harness that creativity into a piece of writing that fits her homework assignment.
Part of developing creative inspiration can come from structured free time as well. Engage in activities that will sharpen both your creative mind and your child's, such as reading together, attending a music concert, and visiting a museum. Asking questions rather than giving answers will encourage your child to express her opinion, and from there you'll see budding critical and creative thinking, as well as self-discovery.
Elements of a Story
Now for the technical stuff! Generally speaking, teachers want to ensure that students learn to write a story with a clear beginning, middle, and end. Additionally, it's important for students to include all the elements that complete the structure of a story. Here's an in-depth look at what goes into creating a story:
- Genre — A genre is a category of writing that has a particular kind of content or structure, such as narrative, mystery, fantasy, sci-fi, etc.
Characters — Characters can be human, or animals, aliens, and even the landscape!
Point-of-view — The point-of-view refers to the narrator who relates the story to the reader. The narrator, often (but not necessarily) a character in the story, is the eyes, ears, and voice of the story. The three major points-of-view are:
- 1st person, or a story told by "I."
- 2nd person, or a story addressed to "you."
3rd person, or a story in which the story the characters are "he" and "she," and the narrator is not usually a character.
Setting — The setting is where the story takes place. Whether it's grandma's farm, a boat in the Atlantic Ocean, outer space, or simply a backyard, the setting should have plenty of details. It helps a reader imagine what's happening.
Plot — Specifically, the plot is the sequence in which the writer arranges the events for the story:
- Exposition: The beginning of the story, which introduces the characters and setting; also introduces the conflict, for which the action of the story will take place.
- Rising action: The majority of the plot takes place here. Dialogue, scenes, character interaction, descriptions, building tension, and more occur here. Think of the last book you read — the rising action took up most of the pages of that book.
- Climax: The most exciting part of the story, usually where the conflict is resolved.
- Falling action: The aftermath of the climax, where the remainder of the story falls into place and the reader's questions are answered.
Resolution: The end; all the loose ends are tied up.
- Theme — A theme is a unifying motif or "message" of a story.