Second level creative writing ideas
A few activities for a creative writing workshop with secondary students, but also relevant for anyone who wants to make a start in writing.
Crazy Lyrical Dialogue
- Select a song randomly, preferably one you’ve never heard or one to which you don’t know the lyrics. Print out the lyrics.
- Go through the song and select a lyric (line or sentence) you find interesting, one that stands out.
- Repeat this process twice more, selecting two more songs and two more lyrics.
- Then, start a conversation with the first lyric you selected between two people very unlikely to use the phrase. For instance, “Won’t you take me, to funky town” Aunt Ida asked Bernie, sitting two wheelchairs away in Serenity Meadows Assisted Living Centre.”
- Once you get the conversation going, insert the other two lyrics elsewhere, shifting the dialogue to make sure the conversation between the two characters makes sense. Continue until you can end the conversation definitively, with a resolution that meets the needs of one of the characters.
- Students can complete the first part of the assignment themselves, then exchange lyrics with people next to them and work from there.adapted from: http://testprep.about.com/od/besttestprepresources/a/Writing_Prompts_HS.htm
Writing for the Screen
The main goal is to differentiate between writing that is to be read, and writing that is to be seen. Think about how we show characters thoughts, feelings and attitudes. Our characters can’t always say these things aloud, that’s called exposition and it’s generally frowned upon.
An interesting and useful activity could be based on writing actions.
Decide on some actions, students can write out directions for them and then act them out as they appear on the page or screen. Think about the following actions, how do you show them through the character without them saying anything? How do you write out the appropriate directions/expressions for the actor? The students, of course can come up with their own actions and give each other the challenge to write and act the directions, but these might help to get started.
- “I have to go to the toilet”
- “My friends are in an serious argument, this makes me uncomfortable.”
- “They don’t realise it was me who just farted.”
- “I don’t love him/her anymore.”
- “why hasn’t my friend come back from checking that weird noise outside?”
- “I think I’m going to be sick.”
- “I have no idea who this person talking to me is, how do they know my name?”
- “I don’t want to be here, I wish I was at home in bed.”
- “I forgot to do the assignment”.
- And so on………
Spend five minutes writing down whatever comes into your head. Just keep the writing flow going as smoothly and uninterruptedly as possible. Once the five minutes is up, try identifying the theme of your writing and develop it into a coherent piece.
- Write a story of exactly 100 words, no more, no less. Then cut the story down to 50 words. Can you do it in 25? 6?
- Write a scene in dialogue-only first, then go back and fill in the action – but only where it’s necessary to understand what’s going on.
Another useful activity to get started is simply writing down words, any words at all, the first words that come into your head, use a board or large poster page and try to fill it with words. Next try to form the words into some kind of story, try to give them some order. The key point with free writing is, to just write. Remember: “There’s no such thing as writer’s block. That was invented by people in California who couldn’t write”. – Terry Pratchett
Prompts: How to get started:
If there is any difficulty finding a start off point there are plenty of books, apps, quotes and such to read. Write a short creative piece using the word of the day from a dictionary as a prompt and base the story around it, even just write a sentence containing the word and see if you can go from there. My own dictionary gave me phantasmagorical as a word of the day, what a beautiful and inspiring word! Twitter, Tumbler, Facebook and WordPress all have a multitude of writing prompt accounts. There’s also the option to google writing prompts and see what comes up. I found these gems:
Going along the lines of free writing, images can serve as a good prompt for original creative writing. Display an image and give a time limit to the writers. Students should write quickly whatever comes to mind, then set aside another bit of time to construct a part of a story. Emphasise the openness of the activity; whatever comes to mind, what story comes to life, what is their personal response to the image, their initial response, what story do they imagine? Focus on the first thing that comes to mind, take away the pressure of ‘will it be good’, ‘is it right/wrong?’, ‘what should I write’….just write. It doesn’t have to necessarily be related to the image, just inspired by.
Some of my favourite and inspiring images:
More interesting images:
Finish the scene/story
Another activity that can be useful is to play a short clip from a Film/Tv series and get students to write and possibly act out the rest of the scene, maybe stop the clip at some sort of cliffhanger if possible. Again students should be encouraged to write their own way and be reminded not to worry about what is right or wrong. It is probably best to find clips that the students haven’t seen, but that isn’t essential. The possibilities are endless here, but here are some examples from the Marx Brothers to get started…
These are just a few ideas to get started, I’m always gathering tips, ideas and resources for creative writing so I’ll be updating again for sure, I’m hoping to take away the apprehension and show creative writing as the challenging, enjoyable and rewarding activity that it is.