Do you have a child who is preparing for the 11+? Are they struggling to think of ideas or are their stories lacking in depth? If this sounds familiar, some steps can be taken to improve your child’s creative writing. By following these simple tips, you’ll help them get on track to write amazing stories.
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These 20 ways to improve creative writing for the 11+ exams and will show your child how to take boring story ideas and turn them into magnificent pieces of literature.
1. Encourage Your Child to Read More Books
When your child reads, they’ll not only improve their creative writing skills but also expand their vocabulary. The more words your child knows the better! What’s more, many different types of books are full of excellent story ideas for children to use in practice. Maybe there was a character that made an impact on them that they can build on for their own writing, or use as inspiration.
2. Make Books
Photos can be very compelling and even controversial these days! Why not encourage your child to take some photos and design a photo book about something interesting? Perhaps it could be about all the animals at the zoo or even their favourite holiday spot. Maybe it could be about them playing an instrument or celebrating a birthday… the possibilities are endless!
3. Change Your Child’s Point of View
So many stories these days tend to stay on one level, but children can often find it more interesting to write from another point of view (for example, first-person instead of third-person story writing).
Just because you’re writing doesn’t mean that your child has to write in the same way as before; there is no ‘one way’ to do things! Writing about something from another perspective will not only allow your child to open up and express themselves creatively but also help develop empathy for others.
4. Get Them Excited About Their Story
One thing I notice with my own child is that he becomes so much more excited and passionate about his work when he becomes invested. Why not help your child become invested in their story by letting them research the topic? What could happen? What will happen next? These are just some of the questions your child should ask themselves to engage with their writing.
5. Have a Plan
Perhaps the biggest and most common mistake we see children making is having no plan or direction for your story. A good way to fix this is by asking questions about the characters and plot. Do they like their main character? Why? How will things end (and why)?
We teach children how to plan their stories in our Express Creative Writing Course.
6. Keep The Story Realistic
While fantasy is great for children to read, writing in that style can be more difficult for them. If your child is struggling to write a story with magical elements, try encouraging them to write about something the feels possible within the real world. Write down all of their ideas on paper to plan them out.
7. Write a Series
Children often feel great excitement about the idea of writing a book! Why not help them extend that excitement by suggesting they might want to write a series? It will work better if your child’s characters are interesting – something that they will no doubt learn while writing in series style!
8. Encourage Your Child to Write About Something They Know
If your child is having trouble writing a story, why not suggest they write about something they know? What happened when they went to the beach last week? Perhaps you could even help them write it. Or, maybe there’s an instrument or animal that they are interested in.
9. Invent a New World
Another way to help your child develop their writing is by encouraging them to create a new world from the ground up! Ask your child questions about this world that they have made – what sort of people live there? What are they like? How do they speak and behave? What’s in the environment around them?
10. Encourage Your Child to be Unique
We all remember those stories we read as children about a princess who falls in love with a prince or a lost dog at Christmas that is found just in time – but these fairytale stories are not mature enough for 11 Plus exams, so you will need to encourage your child to write something different. So often we see children writing the same sorts of stories as described, so why not encourage your child to be unique? Tops marks are given for creative content in the 11+ exams, so the more practice your child gets with this, and is able to work on their creative ideas, the better.
11. Use a Creative Writing Prompt
There are a number of creative writing prompts available on the Geek School Tutoring website, or you can come up with your own! If you find a creative writing prompt that interests your child, try to have them write it in first person and plan it out – going from beginning to end – like this:
- What is my character’s name?
- Where am I and what am I doing?
- How do we get to the main part of the story?
- What happens next and why?
12. Write about a Place You’ve Visited!
If you have recently taken your child on a trip to the seaside, why not suggest they write about that? Perhaps even have them write it in first person, just like we suggested with the creative writing prompt above.
13. Share Your Work at Home
Sharing your work can give you lots of ideas on how to improve! If you can discuss your child’s work with them, why not try to think about how you could improve it? What parts are strong? What can be improved?
14. Have Fun!
And finally, the most important piece of advice for any writer – have fun! If your child is writing stories they love and are excited about, they will put in more effort. Don’t just think about words – think about stories that excite your child and they will come to life!
15. Write every day, even if it’s just a few sentences to get the juices flowing
As they say, practice makes perfect – writing is no different. You can give your child a diary to write in, to get them into the routine of writing. And as long as they are writing, they will improve.
16. Practice reading out loud and work on your speaking skills
If your child needs to improve on their writing skills, there are many ways to do this – watching drama clips on YouTube is one way. But why not encourage them to practice reading out loud? It’s great practice, and will only help their writing to improve!
17. Be creative with words – use metaphors and analogies to make what you’re writing sound interesting
Sometimes it’s not necessarily about what you’re writing, but how you’re writing. Be creative with your word choices and use imagery to engage the reader.
Some children memorise metaphors and similes and other figurative language techniques s from books, but we highly recommend they don’t do this, as other children will also be using exactly the same phrases in their writing, too.
18. Try reading different genres of literature – try reading poems or short stories as well as novels
If we had a pound for every child who is obsessed with the David Walliams books, or Jacqueline Wilson series, we would permanently live on a beach!
While those authors write humourous books that help children to develop a love of reading, they do need to read more advanced books, with more mature vocabulary. We recommend they read a ‘proper’ novel, rather than a standard children’s one, and to try reading some non-fiction books as well, such as biographies.
19. Find a time of day that best suits your child
Some children prefer to write first thing in the morning as it’s quiet and they can go over their work later if they need it. Other children, however, work better in lessons and so writing at home may not be a good idea for them. It’s worth trying a few different times to see what works best for them. You could try a distance learning writing course for your child, like our Express Writing Course, which is marked and very detailed. That way your child can work at any time, hand the work in, and get detailed feedback on their work.
20. Don’t worry too much about the rules, just have fun
We know it’s hard as parents to step back, but it is important that they don’t become obsessed with ‘getting it right’ and simply enjoy the process of writing. If you help your child to become more confident and enthusiastic about writing, they will excel at it!