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Get Writing Prompts Working For Your Class

written by: Julia Bodeeb • edited by: Wendy Finn • updated: 1/5/2012

Students often have a hard time thinking of an idea to create a short story; thus they find writing prompts very helpful. If you give them a starting sentence it prompts their creativity and it becomes much easier to start to craft a story. They will be able to easily begin shaping the story.

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    Use Photo Prompt and Have Volunteers State a First Sentence

    Many students like to have a visual prompt to stir creativity. Thus a teacher may hold up a photo or put a poster on the board. Then ask volunteers to come up with an intriguing sentence based on the photo to use as a writing prompt. Students may use the prompt from the volunteer or they may devise their own first sentence. Pictures are fun to see, especially if they are from areas far away from the school. Bring a bit of the “real world” into the classroom for students to view; it does add a bit of excitement to the lesson.

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    Read First Lines from News Articles

    Read several first sentences from news articles to help students find ideas to start a story. They will not use the exact first line from the article, but will take key phrases or events and use them to shape their own original first sentence.There are many unusual and humorous news articles in the newspapers so collect them for a while and then have a writing prompt day.

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    List Five Cities and Five Character Names

    Pick five interesting cities and five unusual names and let the students pick and choose from them to create the setting and characters for a story. The first line of the story should contain at least one name of a city or character.

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    List Unusual Sentences

    List five unusual sentences on the board and let students pick one to start their story. Pick sentences with a lot of drama or humor such as:“I took a deep breath as I left the room because I knew my life was about to start anew.”Or, “My t-shirt collection is admired by everyone but my Mother, who sometimes does not find them humorous. “

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    List 5 Historic Events

    List five world events on the board and let students choose one to include in the first line of their story.

    Just helping students find a small bit of focus to start their story usually gives them all the help they need. A writing prompt helps them understand that once they have figured out the topic of their story the writing process is quite simple.

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    Additional Resources

    Go to www.Bibliomania.com to find a vast range of literature available free online. Use first lines from stories there to serve as writing prompts or for class discussion of how to start a short story.


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