Teach Creative Writing In High School With 10 Fun Activities

Creative writing is a meaningful aspect of literature that mandates you to utilize your expertise, ingenuity, and story to depict a critical message, emotion, or plot. It defies the traditional bounds of other forms of writing and is completely subjective to our preferences and experiences. In creative writing, it’s all about imaginativeness!

Using creative imagination and originality to convey feelings and concepts in a unique way is at the heart of creative writing. Simply stated, it’s about infusing your own ‘flair’ into your writing, moving beyond academic or other technical kinds of literature. 

In this post, we will explore the various activities which would be advantageous for a high schooler who wishes to indulge in creative writing!

introduction to creative writing activities

What Happens When Creative Writing Is Put To Use?

Creative writing is any form of writing that deviates from traditional professional, investigative journalism, educational, or technological forms of literature. It is typically distinguished by emphasizing narrative craft, character development, literary tropes, or various poetic traditions.

Here are the few ways how high schoolers can benefit from creative writing –

1. Imagination

When you write creatively, you expand your imagination by creating new environments, scenarios, and characters. This way, you are also boosting and stretching your imagination, as well as “thinking out of the box.” This allows you to concentrate your energy on many other things and improve your ability to find fresh ideas and alternatives to problems you’re having. Whether you’re a researcher or a businessman, creative writing will increase your imagination and help you think more creatively, and push the boundaries.

2. Empathy and Communications skills

When you create characters, you’ll be constructing emotions, personalities, behaviors, and world views that are distinct from your own. Writers must conceive personalities, emotions, places, and walks of life outside of their own lives while creating universes with fictional characters and settings.

This can give children a good dose of empathy and understanding for those who aren’t like them, who don’t live where they do or go through the same things they do daily. Writers are better equipped to communicate when they have a greater understanding of other points of view. They can come up with creative ways to explain and debate subjects from multiple perspectives. This ability is crucial in both professional and personal situations. 

3. Clarification of Thoughts 

Creating structures in creative writing allows you to organize your impressions and emotions into a logical procedure. You may express both your thoughts and your sentiments through creative writing. For example, if you’re a marketing executive, you could create a short tale in which your clientele reads your promotional emails. You can guess what they’re up to, where they’re seated, what’s around them, and so on.

This enables you to focus on the language and strategies you employ. Alternatively, if you’re a technical writer writing on a new desktop platform, you could create a creative scenario in which a user encounters a problem. 

4. Broadens Vocabulary and gets a better understanding of reading and writing

You’ll learn a larger vocabulary and a better understanding of the mechanics of reading and writing as you begin to practice writing exercises regularly. Even if you’re writing a budget report, you’ll know when rigid grammar standards work and when they don’t, and you’ll know what will make your writing flow better for your readers. Exploring different ways of expressing yourself when writing creatively allows you to extend your vocabulary.

You’ll notice a change in your use and range of language as you improve your writing over time, which will be useful in any professional route and social scenario. You’ll be able to bend and break the rules when you need to, to utilize your voice and make what you’re writing engaging without coming off as an amateur, dull, or inauthentic once you’ve grasped the fundamentals of writing professionally and creatively.

5. Building Self-Belief 

When you write creatively, you’re actively involved in an activity that allows you to fully develop your voice and point of view without being constrained. You have a better chance to investigate and express your feelings about various issues, opinions, ideas, and characters. And you’ll feel more at ease and secure stating your thoughts and perspectives in other things you write as a result of this.

Writers who don’t write creatively may be concerned about appearing authoritative or trustworthy. They accidentally lose their voice and sound like drones spouting statistics by omitting to include their perspective on the topics they’re writing about. As a result, they miss out on using their distinct voice and presenting themselves as an expert with real-world expertise.

Creative Writing Activities That Will Strengthen Your Writing Skills  

Short spurts of spontaneous writing make up creative writing activities. These writing exercises push a writer to tackle a familiar topic in a new way, ranging from one line to a lengthy tale. Short, spontaneous projects are common in creative writing programs, but any writer should make them a regular practice to extend their abilities and learn new tactics to approach a series of stories.

These activities must be performed for ten minutes at a time, several times a week – by creative writers. They’re designed to help you improve your writing abilities, generate fresh story ideas, and become a better writer.

1. Free Writing

Writing is the first and foremost activity that is going to give your creative writing a boost. Start with a blank page and let your stream of thoughts and emotions flow. Then simply begin writing. Don’t pause to think or alter what you’re expressing. This is known as “free writing.” This writing activity is referred to as “morning pages” by Julia Cameron, the author of ‘The Artist’s Way.’ She recommends that authors do this every day when they first wake up. Stream of consciousness writing can provide some intriguing concepts.

Allow your intellect to take the lead as your fingers type. Or write a letter to your younger self.  Consider a topic you’d like to discuss, such as a noteworthy event, and write it down. Give guidance or convey a message that you wish you had heard as a youngster or a young adult.

2. Modify a Storyline – Read

Most of us like to read. However, just reading won’t really help augment your creative writing skills. While reading bestows insight into the deeper meanings of numerous things, you need a more concrete approach to better your aptitude. To do this, you can modify any storyline. Take an episode from a chapter, if you’re feeling brave—from one of your favorite books and recreate it. Write it from the perspective of a different character. Swap out the main character in this exercise to examine how the story may be conveyed differently.

Take Percy Jackson’s thrilling conclusion, for instance, and rework it with Annabeth as the primary character. Another way to approach this creative activity is to keep the primary character but switch viewpoints. Rewrite a scene in the third person if the writer has told a story in the first person. 

3. Add Creative Writing Prompts or Create Flash Fiction

Use writing prompts, often known as narrative starters, to produce writing ideas. A writing prompt is a sentence or short excerpt that a writer uses to start composing a story on the spot. You can look up writing prompts online, pick a sentence out of a magazine at random, or use a brilliant line from a well-known work as the start of your short scene.

introduction to creative writing activities

Another thing you can do to accentuate your writing is to create flash fiction. Sit down at your desktop or pick up a pen and paper and write a 500-word story on the spur of the moment. This isn’t the same as just writing whatever comes to mind. With no fixed guidelines, free writing generates a stream of consciousness. All of the basic components of a story arc, such as plot, conflict, and character development, are required in flash fiction, albeit in a shortened form.

4. Create a Fictitious Advertisement

Pick a random word from a nearby book or newspaper and create a fictitious commercial for it. Write one ad in a formal, abbreviated newspaper classified format to require you to pay special attention to your word choice to sell the item. Then write one for an online marketplace that allows for longer, more casual text, such as Craigslist. Describe the item and persuade the reader to purchase it in each one.

5. Engage in Conversations 

Engaging in conversations with your friends/family – or simply communicating can help brush up your writing skills. Talk to your loved ones about their hobbies, career, views on societal issues – any suitable topic for that matter. This helps implement others’ points of view and expands your mental ability. Another useful thing that you can do is – make another person’s tale and create it by implementing your own thoughts. Then talk about it in an impeccable manner. Also, talk in complete sentences. This goes to show your Linguistic intelligence proficiency – and helps augment your creative writing skills.

6. Create Your Own Website/Blog

Start your search for blogging. There are a million writing suggestions out there, but they all boil down to the same thing: write. Blogging is excellent writing practice because it gives you a place to write regularly.

introduction to creative writing activities

To keep your fingers and mind nimble, write a post every day. Like most bloggers, you’ll want to restrict your subject—perhaps you’ll focus on parenting or start a how-to site where you can tell stories from your point of view.

7. Participate in Debates/Extempores  

Participating in debates, extempores – anchoring for your school function, giving a speech, all of these activities help boost your creative spirit. These group events make you understand what other people are envisioning, which in turn helps you generate new ideas, approaches, and methods. Not only do they improve your articulation and research skills, but they also develop critical thinking and emotional control abilities. All of these promote a better creative writing aptitude.

8. Start a YouTube Channel or Podcast 

Starting a YouTube channel or podcast will definitely level up your creative game. YouTube is a never-ending platform, covering myriads of topics. Choose a particular niche for your channel.

introduction to creative writing activities

Then do your topic research, create content, manage SEO, approach brands, talk to clients and influencers – do all the good stuff. Communicating with other influencers and creating content will take your creative writing skills to another level. Starting a podcast will have a similar impact. 

9. Love them? Say it with your words!

We have many festivals, occasions, birthdays, parties, anniversaries and whatnot! You can employ these special days and boost your creative writing skills. You can make a token of love for them – writing about your feelings. You can also make gift cards, birthday cards, dinner menus, and so on. So let’s say, it’s your mother’s birthday, you can write her a token of love, elucidating your feelings and letting her know what all she’s done for you and that you’re grateful. Do this for all your near and dear ones. This not only spreads positivity and love but helps you develop your creative aptitude.

10. The What-if Game

The What-If game is an incredible way to upgrade your creative abilities. You can play this game with your friends, cousins, relatives, or solo. Here, you need to find links to many interesting hypothetical questions. For instance, what if the sun doesn’t rise for a week? What if there’s no oxygen for one minute? Play it with your peeps, or ask these questions to yourself. It can be anything random but concrete. If you don’t know the answers to the questions, look them up on Google. This way, you’re training your mind to learn new concepts all the while enhancing your visualization process. 

We can conclude that creative writing encourages students to think creatively, use their imaginations, imply alternatives, expand their thinking processes, and improve their problem-solving skills. It also allows the child to express themselves and grow their voice. Besides, it enhances reasoning abilities. The principle behind the creative writing concept is that everyone can gain the qualities that are needed to become a successful writer or, rather become good at writing. Creative writing is all about using language in new and innovative ways.

introduction to creative writing activities

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Creative Primer

What is Creative Writing? A Key Piece of the Writer’s Toolbox

Brooks Manley

Not all writing is the same and there’s a type of writing that has the ability to transport, teach, and inspire others like no other.

Creative writing stands out due to its unique approach and focus on imagination. Here’s how to get started and grow as you explore the broad and beautiful world of creative writing!

What is Creative Writing?

Creative writing is a form of writing that extends beyond the bounds of regular professional, journalistic, academic, or technical forms of literature. It is characterized by its emphasis on narrative craft, character development, and the use of literary tropes or poetic techniques to express ideas in an original and imaginative way.

Creative writing can take on various forms such as:

  • short stories
  • screenplays

It’s a way for writers to express their thoughts, feelings, and ideas in a creative, often symbolic, way . It’s about using the power of words to transport readers into a world created by the writer.

5 Key Characteristics of Creative Writing

Creative writing is marked by several defining characteristics, each working to create a distinct form of expression:

1. Imagination and Creativity: Creative writing is all about harnessing your creativity and imagination to create an engaging and compelling piece of work. It allows writers to explore different scenarios, characters, and worlds that may not exist in reality.

2. Emotional Engagement: Creative writing often evokes strong emotions in the reader. It aims to make the reader feel something — whether it’s happiness, sorrow, excitement, or fear.

3. Originality: Creative writing values originality. It’s about presenting familiar things in new ways or exploring ideas that are less conventional.

4. Use of Literary Devices: Creative writing frequently employs literary devices such as metaphors, similes, personification, and others to enrich the text and convey meanings in a more subtle, layered manner.

5. Focus on Aesthetics: The beauty of language and the way words flow together is important in creative writing. The aim is to create a piece that’s not just interesting to read, but also beautiful to hear when read aloud.

Remember, creative writing is not just about producing a work of art. It’s also a means of self-expression and a way to share your perspective with the world. Whether you’re considering it as a hobby or contemplating a career in it, understanding the nature and characteristics of creative writing can help you hone your skills and create more engaging pieces .

For more insights into creative writing, check out our articles on creative writing jobs and what you can do with a creative writing degree and is a degree in creative writing worth it .

Styles of Creative Writing

To fully understand creative writing , you must be aware of the various styles involved. Creative writing explores a multitude of genres, each with its own unique characteristics and techniques.

Poetry is a form of creative writing that uses expressive language to evoke emotions and ideas. Poets often employ rhythm, rhyme, and other poetic devices to create pieces that are deeply personal and impactful. Poems can vary greatly in length, style, and subject matter, making this a versatile and dynamic form of creative writing.

Short Stories

Short stories are another common style of creative writing. These are brief narratives that typically revolve around a single event or idea. Despite their length, short stories can provide a powerful punch, using precise language and tight narrative structures to convey a complete story in a limited space.

Novels represent a longer form of narrative creative writing. They usually involve complex plots, multiple characters, and various themes. Writing a novel requires a significant investment of time and effort; however, the result can be a rich and immersive reading experience.


Screenplays are written works intended for the screen, be it television, film, or online platforms. They require a specific format, incorporating dialogue and visual descriptions to guide the production process. Screenwriters must also consider the practical aspects of filmmaking, making this an intricate and specialized form of creative writing.

If you’re interested in this style, understanding creative writing jobs and what you can do with a creative writing degree can provide useful insights.

Writing for the theater is another specialized form of creative writing. Plays, like screenplays, combine dialogue and action, but they also require an understanding of the unique dynamics of the theatrical stage. Playwrights must think about the live audience and the physical space of the theater when crafting their works.

Each of these styles offers unique opportunities for creativity and expression. Whether you’re drawn to the concise power of poetry, the detailed storytelling of novels, or the visual language of screenplays and plays, there’s a form of creative writing that will suit your artistic voice. The key is to explore, experiment, and find the style that resonates with you.

For those looking to spark their creativity, our article on creative writing prompts offers a wealth of ideas to get you started.

Importance of Creative Writing

Understanding what is creative writing involves recognizing its value and significance. Engaging in creative writing can provide numerous benefits – let’s take a closer look.

Developing Creativity and Imagination

Creative writing serves as a fertile ground for nurturing creativity and imagination. It encourages you to think outside the box, explore different perspectives, and create unique and original content. This leads to improved problem-solving skills and a broader worldview , both of which can be beneficial in various aspects of life.

Through creative writing, one can build entire worlds, create characters, and weave complex narratives, all of which are products of a creative mind and vivid imagination. This can be especially beneficial for those seeking creative writing jobs and what you can do with a creative writing degree .

Enhancing Communication Skills

Creative writing can also play a crucial role in honing communication skills. It demands clarity, precision, and a strong command of language. This helps to improve your vocabulary, grammar, and syntax, making it easier to express thoughts and ideas effectively .

Moreover, creative writing encourages empathy as you often need to portray a variety of characters from different backgrounds and perspectives. This leads to a better understanding of people and improved interpersonal communication skills.

Exploring Emotions and Ideas

One of the most profound aspects of creative writing is its ability to provide a safe space for exploring emotions and ideas. It serves as an outlet for thoughts and feelings , allowing you to express yourself in ways that might not be possible in everyday conversation.

Writing can be therapeutic, helping you process complex emotions, navigate difficult life events, and gain insight into your own experiences and perceptions. It can also be a means of self-discovery , helping you to understand yourself and the world around you better.

So, whether you’re a seasoned writer or just starting out, the benefits of creative writing are vast and varied. For those interested in developing their creative writing skills, check out our articles on creative writing prompts and how to teach creative writing . If you’re considering a career in this field, you might find our article on is a degree in creative writing worth it helpful.

4 Steps to Start Creative Writing

Creative writing can seem daunting to beginners, but with the right approach, anyone can start their journey into this creative field. Here are some steps to help you start creative writing .

1. Finding Inspiration

The first step in creative writing is finding inspiration . Inspiration can come from anywhere and anything. Observe the world around you, listen to conversations, explore different cultures, and delve into various topics of interest.

Reading widely can also be a significant source of inspiration. Read different types of books, articles, and blogs. Discover what resonates with you and sparks your imagination.

For structured creative prompts, visit our list of creative writing prompts to get your creative juices flowing.

Editor’s Note : When something excites or interests you, stop and take note – it could be the inspiration for your next creative writing piece.

2. Planning Your Piece

Once you have an idea, the next step is to plan your piece . Start by outlining:

  • the main points

Remember, this can serve as a roadmap to guide your writing process. A plan doesn’t have to be rigid. It’s a flexible guideline that can be adjusted as you delve deeper into your writing. The primary purpose is to provide direction and prevent writer’s block.

3. Writing Your First Draft

After planning your piece, you can start writing your first draft . This is where you give life to your ideas and breathe life into your characters.

Don’t worry about making it perfect in the first go. The first draft is about getting your ideas down on paper . You can always refine and polish your work later. And if you don’t have a great place to write that first draft, consider a journal for writing .

4. Editing and Revising Your Work

The final step in the creative writing process is editing and revising your work . This is where you fine-tune your piece, correct grammatical errors, and improve sentence structure and flow.

Editing is also an opportunity to enhance your storytelling . You can add more descriptive details, develop your characters further, and make sure your plot is engaging and coherent.

Remember, writing is a craft that improves with practice . Don’t be discouraged if your first few pieces don’t meet your expectations. Keep writing, keep learning, and most importantly, enjoy the creative process.

For more insights on creative writing, check out our articles on how to teach creative writing or creative writing activities for kids.

Tips to Improve Creative Writing Skills

Understanding what is creative writing is the first step. But how can one improve their creative writing skills? Here are some tips that can help.

Read Widely

Reading is a vital part of becoming a better writer. By immersing oneself in a variety of genres, styles, and authors, one can gain a richer understanding of language and storytelling techniques . Different authors have unique voices and methods of telling stories, which can serve as inspiration for your own work. So, read widely and frequently!

Practice Regularly

Like any skill, creative writing improves with practice. Consistently writing — whether it be daily, weekly, or monthly — helps develop your writing style and voice . Using creative writing prompts can be a fun way to stimulate your imagination and get the words flowing.

Attend Writing Workshops and Courses

Formal education such as workshops and courses can offer structured learning and expert guidance. These can provide invaluable insights into the world of creative writing, from understanding plot development to character creation. If you’re wondering is a degree in creative writing worth it, these classes can also give you a taste of what studying creative writing at a higher level might look like .

Joining Writing Groups and Communities

Being part of a writing community can provide motivation, constructive feedback, and a sense of camaraderie. These groups often hold regular meetings where members share their work and give each other feedback. Plus, it’s a great way to connect with others who share your passion for writing.

Seeking Feedback on Your Work

Feedback is a crucial part of improving as a writer. It offers a fresh perspective on your work, highlighting areas of strength and opportunities for improvement. Whether it’s from a writing group, a mentor, or even friends and family, constructive criticism can help refine your writing .

Start Creative Writing Today!

Remember, becoming a proficient writer takes time and patience. So, don’t be discouraged by initial challenges. Keep writing, keep learning, and most importantly, keep enjoying the process. Who knows, your passion for creative writing might even lead to creative writing jobs and what you can do with a creative writing degree .

Happy writing!

Brooks Manley

Brooks Manley

introduction to creative writing activities

Creative Primer  is a resource on all things journaling, creativity, and productivity. We’ll help you produce better ideas, get more done, and live a more effective life.

My name is Brooks. I do a ton of journaling, like to think I’m a creative (jury’s out), and spend a lot of time thinking about productivity. I hope these resources and product recommendations serve you well. Reach out if you ever want to chat or let me know about a journal I need to check out!

Here’s my favorite journal for 2024: 

the five minute journal

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Inspiring Ink: Expert Tips on How to Teach Creative Writing

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5 Fun Creative Writing Activities

5 Fun Creative Writing Activities

We’ve gathered five fun creative writing activities you can assign to spark a love for writing. Our hope is that these activities will create a workshop-like environment that fosters feedback and collaboration in your writing classroom.

You’ll notice that none of the activities focuses on the technical aspects of writing. Instead, the activities encourage creativity, reflection, and self-expression—hallmarks of meaningful writing.

Minilesson 1: InstaMemory

  • Imagine a favorite memory as a cellphone picture.
  • Finish this sentence starter: My memory snapshot shows . . .
  • Keep writing until you’ve described your memory snapshot in full. Make sure to include who is in it, what is happening, where it is happening, and when it is happening. Note colors, emotions, facial expressions, and other visual details about the moment.
  • Read your memory snapshot. Does your writing create a clear picture?

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Minilesson 2: Back-and-Forth Stories

Writing back-and-forth stories takes a little creativity and a lot of flexibility. How long can you and a partner keep this story going?

An abandoned home sat at the top of the hill. Matt and Brianna knew the rumors about it, but they had to see it for themselves. They tiptoed their way up the steps, and when they reached the door, it swung open. Inside . . .

  • Continue the story. Write for two minutes.
  • Pass the story to a writing partner.
  • The partner continues the story where you left off and writes for two minutes before passing the story back.
  • Continue writing and passing the story every two minutes.
  • How long can you keep the story going? What happens inside the house?

Minilesson 3: Four-Star Food Review

  • List the food items that would make up your ideal fall meal. Include one main dish, one side dish, one dessert, and one drink.
  • Describe the looks, smells, and tastes associated with the meal.
  • Finish this sentence: My meal reminds me of fall, because . . .
  • Use the details you’ve collected to write a review of your meal in one or two paragraphs. Exchange your review with a partner to see how your meals compare.

Minilesson 4: Now how do I get out of this one?

  • List ten chores or tasks you hate doing. Cleaning my room is an example of a chore you might not like.
  • Select four tasks from your list and write a creative excuse explaining why you can’t or haven’t completed each one. Make your excuses as original and wild as possible.
  • When you’ve finished, exchange your work with a classmate. Read and discuss each other’s excuses.

Minilesson 5: Diary of a Famous Figure

  • List three famous people or characters you like or admire.
  • Imagine you are one of the famous figures from your list.
  • As that person, think of what you would do on a summer day.
  • Write a diary entry (or blog post) about your special day as the famous person.
  • Then write additional entries as you so choose.

Want more creative writing ideas? Check out these creative activities.

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Writing Forward

A Big, Bold List of Creative Writing Activities

by Melissa Donovan | Jan 4, 2024 | Creative Writing | 24 comments

creative writing activities

Try some of these creative writing activities.

Are you looking for writing motivation, inspiration, or ideas that will give your latest project an extra boost?

Below you’ll find a massive list of creative writing activities. Some of these activities will keep you writing when you’re in need of ideas and inspiration. Others will improve your writing skills and techniques through practice. Some will give you experience with forms and genres you haven’t tried. And others will help you promote your writing once it’s published.

Start a Journal

Journaling is an excellent way to maintain a steady writing practice, and there are lots of different journals you can write: gratitude journals, dream journals, media journals, poetry journals, and idea journals, to name a few.

Image Prompts

Flip through some images on Instagram or Pinterest and see what sparks an idea. Don’t place limitations on your writing—just let the words flow.

Character Letters

Writing letters in your characters’ voices can help you get inside their heads and understand them better so you can write them with more depth and realism. Create an ongoing correspondence to explore character relationships and group dynamics within your cast.

Write Your Bio

Write a series of short bios for your social media accounts and a longer one for your author website. Don’t forget to make a bio for your press kit and another to include in your books.

Rhyme and Meter Exercises

Set your inner musician free by composing lines and couplets in metrical patterns with rhymes. Establish the parameters before you start writing, or just let the words flow and note the meter and rhyme afterward.

Memory Prompts

Grab an old photo album or flip through the photos on your phone—or use recall to bring forth memories that you can write about. Use this as an exercise in writing description or crafting a narrative about something you experienced or witnessed—ideal if you’re interested in writing a memoir.

Writing Exercises

Writing exercises keep your skills sharp and your creativity flowing even when inspiration is fleeting. They are excellent for keeping up your writing practice between projects. Pick up a book of creative writing exercises so you’ll have plenty to choose from.

What-if List

Create a repository of ideas by writing a list of what-if questions that could spark characters, plots, and settings for your future works of fiction or provide ideas you can explore in poetry and nonfiction writing projects.


A mailing list is one of the best ways for an author to connect with a readership. Start planning yours now. You can fill your newsletter with behind-the-scenes material from your books or excerpts from your work in progress. Or write a poem or piece of flash fiction for your newsletter.

Character Diary

The best characters feel like real people, which means the writer has fully gotten into their heads and hearts. One way to do that is to keep a diary in your character’s voice, which will help you establish their innermost thoughts and feelings. And who knows? Maybe a character diary will turn into a novel written in first person!

Your Future Self

Jump at least ten years into the future and write a letter from your current self to your future self, write a letter from your future self to your current self, or write a diary entry as your future self.

Try Writing for Comics

Comics are often partnerships between artists and writers. Give the writing side of comics a try. If you don’t want to draw, just make notes about what the illustrations will depict. Focus on character, plot, and dialogue. Flip through a few comics if you need examples to guide you.

Dream Vacation

Write a few pages describing your dream vacation. Where will you go? How long will you stay? What will you do there? If you’ve already experienced a dream vacation, write about that instead.

Blurb Your Favorite Books

A book blurb is a short statement endorsing a book, often written by another author. Choose a few of your favorite titles and write blurbs for them.

Focus on dialogue by writing a script. It could be a script for a play, a TV series, or a movie, or it can simply be an exercise in practicing or exploring dialogue.

Imagined World History

Create a fictional history for a fantastical or sci-fi story world. What were the origins of the civilization? What are their customs and traditions? Their laws and beliefs?

Write a Recipe

Start with an introduction that makes the reader’s mouth water, and then deliver the recipe, complete with an ingredient list and cooking instructions.

Propose an Adaptation of Your Favorite Book

Do you have a favorite book that’s never been made into a film or television series? Put together a two-page pitch convincing studio executives that this story needs to be seen on a screen.

Write a Letter You’ll Never Send

Write a letter to someone who’s gone, someone who’s upset you, or someone you admire from afar.

Find Poetry

Found poetry is when we use words and phrases from source material to create a poem. This is most often seen as a page of printed text with various words and phrases circled, or all text blacked out except the portions that make up the found poem.

Write a Speech

Write an award acceptance speech; a campaign speech, or a graduation or wedding speech.

Make an Outline

Create an outline for a large-scope project, such as a book or series of books.

This is Like That

Practice writing similes and metaphors. Similes are when one thing is like another (your smile is like sunshine) and metaphors are when one thing is another (your smile is sunshine).

Make a Chapbook

If you’ve written a lot of short pieces, like essays, poems, and short stories, collect them into a chapbook. Bring it to an open mic and take along copies you can sell or give away, or offer it on your blog, website, or social media as a free or premium download.

Create a Motivation Journal

Fill it with things that make you want to write — positive affirmations, favorite lines from poems, quotes of wisdom, and useful reminders. Crack it open whenever you catch yourself procrastinating when you should be writing.

Give Fan Fiction a Whirl

Write a few scenes in your favorite story world. Create new characters or use existing characters. Just remember — you don’t own the intellectual property, so you can’t commercially publish it.

Write a Critique

A critique should start by highlighting the strengths in a piece of writing, and then it should gently but constructively offer feedback that is meant to show the author how to make improvements. You can critique any work, but it would be ideal if you can find a writer friend to swap critiques with.

Write Log Lines for Your Favorite Stories

A log line is a sentence or two that summarizes a story and entices readers. If you’re working on a project, write a log line about it. Log lines are excellent for crystallizing your vision, and they’re also useful for pitching and selling written works.

Start a Legacy Book

A legacy book is a collection of writings and other materials (letters, photos, ephemera, etc.) that can be passed down as a family heirloom. Write about your family history and document significant or memorable family events.

Speculate the Future

What do you think the world will look like in twenty-five years? Fifty? A hundred? A thousand? Write an essay or short story, or create a world-building document for a futuristic civilization.

Write a Film Treatment

Written like a short story in present tense, a film treatment is an overview of an entire film; it’s usually written before the first draft and used for pitching film ideas throughout the industry.

Write a Blog Post

If you write nonfiction, this should be easy; just write a post about one of your usual topics. If you’re a poet or a fiction writer, write about the craft, the industry, or use subject matter from your written works.

Practice Description

Writing description is an important skill. Create a one-page description for a story setting, or describe a location you’ve visited, or write a description of a real person or a fictional character.

Turn Memories Into Magic

Memories can provide a wealth of ideas for any type of writing, from poetry to fiction and a variety of essays. Choose an early memory and write it as a story, essay, or poem.

Social media is ideal for people who can write snappy, witty, and entertaining or engaging vignettes. Social media is an excellent tool for writers to find readers and connect with one another, so mastering a couple of these social platforms is a good idea if you hope to build a career as a writer.

Rewrite What You Don’t Like

Dig through your old, discarded writings and find a piece that had some potential. Then rewrite it.

Analyze a Written Work

Choose a piece of writing (it can be a book, an article, an essay — anything) and then write an analysis of at least 2,000 words (or about four pages).

Read and Resemble

Read a handful of poems by a single poet and then attempt writing a poem in that poet’s voice. This is not an exercise in copying; it’s an exercising in studying the voice of a writer. If you’re feeling ambitious, try it with works of fiction and write a scene in an author’s voice.

Write a Review

Choose a book that you’ve read recently and write a detailed review of it. What worked? What didn’t work? What did you like? What didn’t you like? Remember, a review should help a book find its readers. Who is this book for, if not for you?

Get Busy with These Creative Writing Activities!

What are some of your favorite creative writing activities? Have you done any of the activities on this list? Which ones would you want to try? Can you think of any writing activities to add to this list? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment, and keep writing!

Ready Set Write a Guide to Creative Writing



Thank you for all these wonderful ideas. After a very long hiatus from the writing world (mostly because of health) I am feeling a bit rusty. Using some of these ideas will certainly prime the pump! I really enjoy your blog and appreciate the basics of grammar, etc. I find that I have slipped into some old habits just in my everyday writing and your tips help me get back on track.

Melissa Donovan

Thanks, Ann. I’m always touched by comments like yours. It keeps me going when people let me know this blog is helpful or inspiring. So thank you for taking the time. Best of luck and keep writing!

Kristy @PampersandPinot

The character journal is a great idea!!!

The problem with the character journal is that it could be time consuming, but I love it as a way to get to know a character, and more specifically, to get inside a character’s head.

Yvonne Root

All of these ideas are wonderful. I’m especially attracted to the last two suggestions. Both of those activities are fun for me and certainly bound to be helpful concerning my writing skills.

When I must wait in the car (with a sleeping grandchild, for instance) I’m only happy if I can see folks as they come and go.

We play word games on a regular basis and have found it strengthens the writing skills of even those of us who do not call ourselves wordsmiths.

Keep up the excellent work.

Thanks so much for your kind words, Yvonnne. I’m looking forward to the day when the little ones in my family (niece and nephew) are old enough to play word and letter games.


Hi Melissa, Thanks for these wonderful ideas. I ‘m taking a couple of days off from writing my memoir, and will try them out.’Writing as one of my characters’ and ‘sitting in some heavily populated place for observations’ are intriguing.

Those are my two favorites as well. Good luck, Margaret, and enjoy your hiatus. I hope it refreshes you so you can return to your memoir.

Amber Dane

Love the character journal idea! To keep my vocab going I choose pages out of the dictionary/thesaurus to keep my brain working. It also does wonders for my muse. 🙂 Thanks for sharing this list.

I write a lot of scenes and backstory for my characters, which are never included in the book. Exploring the characters outside of the narrative has proven to be very helpful in better understanding them.

Paul Atreides

Hi, Melissa!

Well, I’ve been absent for quite a long while. But I have been busy. A spec piece submitted to my local daily newspaper landed me a column. (Who couldda guessed?) I also write theater reviews for them; write what you know has never been more true.

Consequently, I find that my creative writing has slowed quite a bit. The sequel to my debut needs, maybe, two more chapters yet there it sits, though a production company asked for it. Even reading the preceding few chapters doesn’t help me get into the character’s heads in order to finish the thing.

Got any ideas?

Congrats on landing a column, Paul. That’s awesome. I’m not sure why you’ve been unable to finish your sequel, so I can’t offer any specific suggestions, but you can start by fguring out why you’re not finishing it (no time, lost interest, etc.), and then you can probably rectify the problem.

Bette Stevens

Wonderful! Thanks for sharing these great ideas.

You’re welcome. Thanks for commenting!

Bryan Fagan

It’s so easy to get stuck in a rut. Every writer needs to step away.

I live near the University of Oregon. Every now and than I take a walk through campus. I try to time it during a busy school day. I wish I could bottle the youthful energy that is floating in the wind.

If any of you live near a school try it.

Thank you for the list. It helps a lot.

Yes, breaks are great refreshers for a creative mind. You’re lucky to live near a beautiful place for walks.


I don’t speek english so, sorry if i write wrong, but i need to tell you that your blog is amazing. Your write it’s soo good and make me wanna write. I have 15 years old and i love write, maybe I become a writter when I grew up, and I don’t know how to make my ideias go for the paper but your blog has helped me. Thank you!!

Hi Isabella. Thanks for sharing your passion for writing. I’m glad you’re enjoying this blog. Keep writing!

Allison Brown

Thank you for your useful ideas! You have inspired me to try out new formats. I’m not a professional writer, it’s more my hobby. But still, I want to improve myself by writing texts and short stories.

You’re welcome. I’m glad this inspired you, and I’m thrilled that you’re working toward improvement. That’s wonderful!

Sandra Harris

Hi Melissa! I just wanted you to know that I recently bought some of your books and I absolutely love them and carry them around with me everywhere. Keep up the amazing work! Best wishes, Sandra Harris.

Wow, you just made my day, Sandra. That’s one of the nicest things anyone has said about my books. I’m so glad you like them. Keep writing!


Thank you for those amaing ideas. I’m not exactly stuck, as I know where my latest book is going, but I’m a bit lacking in motivation right now. Some of your suggestions might just get my juices flowing again.

Hi Vivienne. You’re welcome. I’m glad you found some motivation here. Keep writing!

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introduction to creative writing activities

55 Creative Writing Activities and Exercises

Creating writing activities

Have you ever heard these questions or statements from your students?

  • I don’t know where to begin.
  • How can I make my story interesting?
  • I’m just not creative.
  • What should my story be about?

If so, you won’t want to miss these creative writing activities. 

What Are Creative Writing Activities?

Activities that teach creative writing serve as drills to exercise your student’s writing muscle. When used effectively, they help reluctant writers get past that intimidating blank paper and encourage the words to flow. 

When I think of creative writing exercises , writing prompts immediately come to mind. And, yes, writing from a prompt is certainly an example of a creative writing activity (a highly effective one). 

However, writing prompts are only one way to teach creative writing. Other types of activities include games, collaboration with others, sensory activities, and comic strip creation to name a few.

Unlike writing assignments, creative writing activities aren’t necessarily meant to create a perfectly polished finished project. 

Instead, they serve as more of a warmup and imagination boost.

Picture-based writing exercises are especially fun. You can download one for free below!

Creative Writing Exercises

get this picture prompt printable for free!

How to use creative writing exercises effectively.

When teaching creative writing , the most effective exercises inspire and engage the student. 

Remember that worn-out prompt your teacher probably hauled out every year? 

“What I Did This Summer…” 

Cue the groaning. 

Instead of presenting your student with lackluster topics like that one, let’s talk about ways to engage and excite them. 

For Kids or Beginners

Early writers tend to possess misconceptions about writing. Many picture sitting down for hours straight, polishing a story from beginning to end. 

Even for experienced writers, this is next-to-impossible to do. It’s preconceived ideas like these that overwhelm and discourage students before they’ve even started. 

Instead of assigning an essay to complete, start with simple, short writing exercises for elementary students such as:

  • Creating comic strips using a template
  • Talking out loud about a recent dream
  • Writing a poem using rhyming words you provide
  • Creating an acrostic from a special word

Creative writing exercises don’t have to end in a finished piece of work. If the exercise encouraged creative thinking and helped the student put pen to paper, it’s done its job. 

For Middle School

Creative writing activities for middle school can be a little more inventive. They now have the fundamental reading and writing skills to wield their words properly. 

Here are some ideas for middle school writing exercises you can try at home:

  • Creating Mad Lib-style stories by changing out nouns, verbs, and adjectives in their favorite tales
  • Storyboarding a short film
  • Writing a family newsletter
  • Creating crossword puzzles

For High School 

Your high school student may be starting to prepare for college essays and other important creative writing assignments. 

It’s more critical than ever for her to exercise her writing skills on a regular basis. 

One great way to keep your high schooler’s mind thinking creatively is to have her make “listicles” of tips or facts about something she’s interested in already. 

Another fun and effective creative writing exercise for high school is to have your student retell classic stories with a twist. 

List of 55 Creative Writing Activities for Students of All Ages

No matter what age range your students may be, I think you’ll find something that suits their personality and interests in this list of creative writing ideas. Enjoy! 

  • Using only the sense of hearing, describe your surroundings. 
  • Write a paragraph from your shoes’ point of view. How do they view the world? What does a “day in the life of a shoe” look like?
  • Imagine what the world will be like in 200 years. Describe it. 
  • Write a letter to someone you know who moved away. What has he or she missed? Should he or she move back? Why? 
  • Make up an imaginary friend. What does he or she look like? What does he or she like to do?
  • Create a story about a person you know. Use as many details as possible.
  • Write a poem that describes a place you have been.
  • Soak up the season you’re in with seasonal creative writing prompts. Here are some ideas for fall and winter .
  • Write a song where each line starts with the next letter in the alphabet. 
  • Create a list of words related to something you love.
  • Write a short story based on a true event in your life.
  • Rewrite a chapter of your favorite book from the antagonist’s point of view. 
  • Write a letter to your future self. What do you want to make sure you remember?
  • Go on a five-senses scavenger hunt. Find three items for each sense. Create a story using the items you found. 
  • Create a story around an interesting picture ( try these fun picture writing prompts! )
  • Find an ad in a magazine or elsewhere and rewrite the description to convince people NOT to buy the advertised item.
  • Write a story using the last word of each sentence as the first word of the next.
  • Describe everything you’re sensing right now, using all five senses.
  • Write a list of animals A to Z with a one-sentence description of each one. Feel free to include imaginary animals.
  • Design your dream room in detail.
  • Write a script of yourself interviewing a famous person. Include his or her answers.
  • Describe what high school would be like if you lived on the moon. What would you be learning about? How would you be learning it?
  • Describe a day in the life of a famous person in history. Include both mundane and exciting details of things they may have experienced on a normal day.
  • Pick up something on a bookshelf or end table nearby. Now write a commercial script for it to convince your audience that they absolutely must own this thing.
  • Plan a birthday party for your best friend. Describe the decorations, food, and everything else.
  • Write a very short story about three siblings fighting over a toy. Now rewrite it twice, each time from a different character’s perspective.
  • Tell a story from the point of view of a pigeon on a city street.
  • Create a menu for a deli you’ll be opening soon. Name each sandwich after something or someone in real life and list the fillings and type of bread.
  • Pretend you just became famous for something. Write 3 exciting newspaper headlines about the topic or reason behind your newfound fame.
  • Keep a one-line-a-day journal. Every day, write down one thought or sentence about something that happened that day or how you felt about the day.
  • Have you ever had a nightmare? Write what happened but with a new ending where everything turns out okay (perhaps the monster was your dad in a costume, preparing to surprise you at your birthday party).
  • Write a “tweet” about something that happened to you recently, using only 140 characters. 
  • Take an important event in your life or the life of someone in your family. Write one sentence answering each of the 6 journalistic questions: Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How.
  • Set a timer for 5 minutes and write nonstop, starting with the words “I remember.” If you get stuck, write “I remember” again until you get unstuck.
  • Pick something you use often (a toothbrush, your desk, etc). Then tell the story of how it was invented. If you don’t know, make something up.
  • Choose a princess or hero and write a one-paragraph story about him or her traveling to a distant land.
  • Pretend you are a tour guide for a local attraction. It can be a library, a park, or a museum, but it could also be a place that wouldn’t normally hold tours (such as an arcade). Write a speech about what you tell your tour group as you walk around the attraction.
  • Create a marketing brochure for your favorite activity or fun place to go.
  • Make a list of 10 future story settings. Write one sentence describing each. For example, “ in the dark, musty cellar of my grandmother’s house, surrounded by dried-up jars of canned peaches… ”
  • Make a list of foods included in a dinner party catered by the world’s worst cook, describing how each course looks, smells, and tastes. Include your reactions while eating it.
  • Write out your own version of instructions for playing your favorite game.
  • Pretend you’ve lost your sight for one night. Describe going out to eat at a restaurant, using smells, textures, and sounds to tell your story.
  • Write a script for an interesting phone conversation in which the reader can only hear one side. 
  • Tell the story of an object someone threw away from the perspective of the person who tossed it out. Then tell the story of that same object from the perspective of a person who finds it and deems it a treasure.
  • List your 3 least favorite chores. Pick one and write a one paragraph detailing why you can’t possibly complete that chore ever again.
  • Write an excerpt from your dog’s diary (pretend he keeps one).
  • Write the script for a movie trailer—real or imagined.
  • Create an acrostic for a holiday of your choice. 
  • Pretend you’re the master of a role-playing game, describing a sticky situation in which the other players now find themselves. Describe the scenario in writing.
  • Compose a funny or dramatic caption for a photo.
  • Parents, place a textured object in a box without letting your student see it. Have him or her reach in, touch the object, and then describe how it feels.
  • Write lyrics for a parody of a song.
  • Make a list of 10-20 songs that would be played if a movie was made about your life.
  • Describe the sounds, smells, sights, and textures you’d experience if you went to the beach for the day.
  • Write an election speech with ludicrous and impossible campaign promises.

One of the best ways to encourage students to write regularly is by providing fun creative writing activities . 

They serve to encourage both the habit and mindset of writing with imagination. If you need extra help with that, check out Creative Freewriting Adventure :

Creative Freewriting Adventure

bring excitement into your student’s writing – no prep required!

About the author.

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Jordan Mitchell

introduction to creative writing activities

If you’re looking to inspire your students’ writing and creativity, turn to these fun and exciting writing prompts. Perfect for overcoming writer’s block or even starting a brand-new short story in a different narrative, creative writing prompts can help students begin a new piece with confidence.

Plus, these story starters can also encourage students to explore different genres while honing their writing skills. There are a lot of ways you can use writing prompts in your classroom. Try: 

Reading a book in a genre, then having students use a story starter in that same genre. 

Starting off class with 10 minutes of writing, using one of the prompts below. If you'd like, you can ask a volunteer to share their story! Students may be surprised by the variety of stories that are written based on the same prompt. 

Using these prompts as an introduction to a creative writing unit. 

Providing fast finishers with a way to stay busy — and have fun. 

Using story starters to encourage students to write at home.

Adventure Story Starters 

Take inspiration from classics like Treasure Island and newer popular series like The Bad Guys to explore how to write thrilling adventure stories. And to encourage students to begin writing their own adventure-focused stories, share these creative story starters: 

You’re part of a pirate crew in search of a long-lost storied treasure trove. What is happening on the ship and where do you find the treasure? 

You get the chance to use a time machine to meet one historical figure of your choice. Who do you go meet, and what will you do to explore that time period?

You receive a fortune in a fortune cookie that changes the course of your life. What does the fortune say, and what happens when it comes true?

Get students excited about adventure stories with these great books: 

Fantasy Story Starters 

Have fans of dragons, unicorns, wizards, and other mythical creatures in class? Encourage them to give fantasy writing a shot. 

You’re on a quest through a hidden underground world that no one else has ever seen. What magical creatures do you come across? What do they look like, and how do they act? 

There is a witch who lives in a nearby legendary haunted house. She puts a hex on you that needed to be broken by the time the clock struck midnight the next night. What kind of hex is it, and how do you break it? 

You stumble into an enchanted forest. How did you find it, and what do you discover in it?

Check out these fun fantasy titles for more inspiration:

Sci-Fi Story Starters 

Kids interested in STEM concepts will love science fiction! Try these prompts to see how your students combine science with their wildest imaginations. 

  • You’re the first person to ever set foot on Mars. What is it like? What do you explore first? 
  • You and your friend have the same dream in the middle of the night about a prophecy that involves another dimension. What is the prophecy, and what is this other dimension? What do you and your friend have to do to reach and alter this dimension?
  • After NASA discovers a whole new world of giants in a nearby nebula, they send a team of scientists through a wormhole to study them. You are one of the scientists on board. What does the journey feel like? What do the giants look like in this world? 

Plus, find great kid-friendly sci-fi here:

Genre Scrambler Story Starters 

Have some fun with genre studies by combining them! Try these prompts to get started:

  • You are on an expedition in the Arctic and discover a new species of animals living in the harsh climate that no one has ever seen before. What kind of species is it, and what characteristics do they have? 
  • You’re walking home from school and notice that the front door of a neighbor’s house is wide open, and no one is in sight. The old man who normally lives there is nowhere to be found. Curious, you go into the house and find that everything is fake: the furniture, the food, the technology, etc. In fact, the whole property is made of plastic, even the grass and trees! What happened to the old man who lives here? Why does this house exist, and why is everything fake? 
  • You are a child living in the early 1800s in an unnamed country when an asteroid hits, releasing aliens that want to make contact with your leaders. What do these aliens want? How does everyone react?

Shop popular books of all genres that will inspire young writers below! You can find all books and activities at The Teacher Store .

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Introduction to Creative Writing

English 110s.



Faulkner (Carol) Fox Online

This course encourage students to explore and practice four genres of creative writing: creative nonfiction, fiction, playwriting, and poetry. Part of the class will be devoted to peer critique of student work (“workshopping”), and part to discussions of craft as well as close reading of published essays, stories, and poems; and close watching of scenes from plays. There will be weekly writing assignments, and students will also submit a final portfolio of finished work.


Mesha Maren

Introduction to Creative Writing is a hands-on, interactive exploration of nonfiction, poetry, playwriting, and fiction. Students will read examples from each genre and discuss the craft elements demonstrated in each text. We will then go on to try our own hand at drafting and revising essays, poems, plays, and prose. No previous experience is necessary.


Akhil Sharma Hybrid

Learning to write creatively is like learning to sing, in that the writer is similar to a singer in being her own instrument. The writer's specific sensibility and especial competencies determine the range of excellence that the writer can comfortably operate in.

This course will focus on three genres: poetry, creative non-fiction, and fiction. More particularly, the course will focus on the sonnet, the profile, and the short story. Each section will feed into the next: the stanza preparing us for the paragraph, and the interview leading into third person point-of-view.

Because learning to write creatively involves developing a form of muscle memory, there will be almost daily writing exercises. There will also be, and equally importantly, a daily writer's diary of the experience of performing the exercise.

The end goal of the course is to develop both a suppleness with language and an awareness as to our particular responses to specific subjects and technical challenges.

Requirements: Almost daily writing exercises. Grades: Writing assignments 50%; Participation 50%.

Writing Retreat in South France

Writing retreat in France

Table of contents

A note on running exercises remotely

A letter from your character to you, the opening sentence, make your protagonist act, overcoming writer's block, writing character arcs, sewing seeds in your writing, giving feedback to authors, the five senses, show don't tell, world building.

Easy gossiping exercise

Degrees of Emotion Game

Three birds, one line, blind date on valentine's day (exercise for adults), a success (works best for online groups), your dream holiday, time travel - child, adult, senior, focus on faces.

Onomatopeai, rhyme and alliteration

The alphabet story - creating a story as a group

A question or two, murder mystery game, the obscure movie exercise, how to hint at romantic feelings, a novel idea, creative writing prompts, creative story cards / dice, alternative christmas story, murder mystery mind map.

New Year's resolutions for a fictional character

Stephen King - Using verbs & nouns in fiction

It's the end of the world

Other Content:

7 Editing exercises  (for your first draft)

How to run the writing exercises

I run a  Creative Writing Meetup  for adults and teens in Montpellier or online every week. We start with a 5 to 20 minute exercise, followed by an hour and a half of silent writing, during which each participant focuses on their own project. Every exercise listed below has been run with the group and had any kinks ironed out.  Where the exercises specify a number of people, if you have a larger group, simply split everyone up into smaller groups as appropriate.

The solo exercises are ideal to help stimulate your mind before working on a larger project, to overcome writer’s block, or as stand-alone prompts in their own right. If a solo exercise inspires you and you wish to use it with a larger group, give every member ten minutes to complete the exercise, then ask anyone who wishes to share their work to do so in groups of 3 or 4 afterwards.

Looking for something quick to fire your imagination? Check out these  creative writing prompts for adults .

While you can enjoy the exercises solo, they are also designed for online writing groups using Zoom, WhatsApp, or Discord.

If you're running a group and follow a ' Shut Up and Write ' structure, I recommend connecting on WhatsApp (for example) first, doing the exercise together, sharing writing samples as needed. Next, write in silence for an hour and a half on your own projects, before reconnecting for a brief informal chat at the end. This works great with small remote groups and is a way to learn new techniques, gain online support, and have a productive session.

If you have a larger online group, it's worth looking into Zoom, as this has a feature called  Breakout Rooms . Breakout Rooms let you split different writers into separate rooms, which is great for group activities. The free version of Zoom has a 40 minute limit, which can be restrictive, but Zoom Pro is well worth it if you're going to use it on a regular basis. In my experience, Zoom has a better connection than Facebook chat or WhatsApp.

Letter from fictional character to the author

Spend ten minutes writing a letter from a character in your novel to  you , the author, explaining why you should write about them. This serves three purposes:

  • As you write, it helps you get into the mindset of the character. Ask yourself how they would language this letter and what they would consider important.
  • It's motivating to know that your character wants you to write about them.
  • If your goal is to publish a complete work of fiction one day, whether it be a novel, a play or a movie script, you will want to contact an agent or publisher. This helps you practice in an easy, safe way.

If you're doing this exercise with a group of teens or adults, and some of the group haven't already started working on their masterpiece, they can instead choose any fictional novel they love. Ask participants to imagine that a character within the book wrote to the author in the first place to ask them to write their story. How did they plead their case?

First sentence of books

The opening sentence has to grab the reader's attention and make them want to keep reading. Many authors achieve this by starting with an action scene. In modern literature, it's best to avoid starting with someone waking up, or a description of the weather. In this exercise the task is to write an opening sentence either to a book you're currently writing, or simply for an imaginary piece of literature.  Here are some of my favourite opening sentences to get you going:

It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.

George Orwell , 1984

The Golem's life began in the hold of a steamship.

Helene Wecker , The Golem and the Djinni

All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.

Leo Tolstoy , Anna Karenina

It wasn't a very likely place for disappearances, at least at first glance.

Diana Gabaldon , Outlander

You better not never tell nobody but God.

Alice Walker , The Color Purple

The cage was finished.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez ,  Balthazar’s Marvelous Afternoon

Imagine that you are living your life out of order: Lunch before breakfast, marriage before your first kiss.

Audrey Niffenegger ,  The Time Traveler's Wife

Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun.

Douglas Adams ,  The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

There are a plethora of ways you can start a book, however two ways that help engage the reader immediately are:

  • Set the scene in as few words as possible, so the reader immediately knows what's happening and wants to know what happens next.  The scene must be original and create a vivid image in the reader's mind.
  • Surprise the reader with an unusual event or usual point of view.

Spend 5 minutes working on your own opening sentence, then share it with the other participants.

Exercise for 2 writers, or can be done solo.

Make your characters act

According to John Gardner:

"Failure to recognise that the central character must act, not simply be acted upon, is the single most common mistake in the fiction of beginners."

Spend 5 minutes writing a scene where the protagonist is passive in a conversation with one other character. It could be that the other character says something dramatic, and the protagonist just listens, or it could be anything else of your choice!

Once the 5 minutes is up, swap papers with another writer. If you're using Zoom, or working online, send it to each other in a private chat. Now the other person spends 8 minutes rewriting the scene to make the protagonist as active as possible. This might include:

Read both scenes together. Which makes you want to keep on reading?

If you're doing this as a solo writing exercise, simply complete both parts yourself.

  • Showing the emotion this evokes.
  • Getting them to disagree with the other character.
  • Showing how they respond physically (whether it's as a physical manifestation of how they feel, or a dramatic gesture to make a point).

Overcoming writer's block

Are you staring at a blank page or stuck for any story ideas? This exercise will help anyone who's experiencing writer's block with a particular piece of writing. If this isn't you, that's great, others will value your input!

If anyone has a particular scene they're stuck with (a pool of blood on the floor they have no explanation for, a reason why the rich lady just walked into a particular pub, etc.) then at the start of the exercise everyone briefly describes their scenes (if working online with a large group, typing it into the chat might be best). Everyone then chooses one scene to use as a writing prompt to write a short story for 10-15 minutes.

Afterwards, split into small groups if necessary, and read out how you completed someone else's writing prompt. As everyone listens to everyone else's ideas, this can be a wonderful source of inspiration and also improves your writing. As an alternative solo exercise, try free writing. With free writing, simply write as quickly as you can on the topic without editing or censoring yourself - just let your creative juices flow. If you're not sure what happens next, brainstorm options on the page, jot down story ideas, or just put, "I don't know what happens next." Keep going and ideas will come.

Character arc

There are several different types of character arc in a novel, the 3 most common being:

For this exercise choose either a positive or negative character arc. Spend 8 minutes writing a scene from the start of a novel, then 8 minutes writing a scene towards the end of a novel showing how the character has developed between the two points. Don't worry about including how the character has changed, you can leave that to the imagination.

The point here is to capture the essence of a character, as they will be the same, but show their development.

  • Positive  - Where a character develops and grows during the novel. Perhaps they start unhappy or weak and end happy or powerful.
  • Negative  - Where a character gets worse during a novel. Perhaps they become ill or give in to evil tendencies as the novel progresses.
  • Flat  - In a flat character arc the character themself doesn't change much, however the world around them does. This could be overthrowing a great injustice, for example.

Sewing seeds in writing

In this exercise, we will look at how to sew seeds. No, not in your garden, but in your story. Seeds are the tiny hints and indicators that something is going on, which influence a reader's perceptions on an often unconscious level. They're important, as if you spring a surprise twist on your readers without any warning, it can seem unbelievable. Sew seeds that lead up to the event, so the twists and turns are still surprising, but make intuitive sense. Groups : Brainstorm major plot twists that might happen towards the end of the novel and share it in a Zoom chat, or on pieces of paper. Choose one twist each. Individuals : Choose one of the following plot twists:   -  Your friend is actually the secret son of the king.   -  Unreliable narrator - the narrator turns out to be villain.   -  The monster turns out to be the missing woman the narrator is seeking.   -  The man she is about to marry happens to already have a wife and three kids.

Write for ten minutes and give subtle hints as to what the plot twist is. This is an exercise in subtlety. Remember, when the twist occurs, it should still come as a surprise.

Animal exercise

This is a fun writing activity for a small group. You’ve found a magic potion labelled ‘Cat Chat’ and when you drink it, you turn into whichever animal you’re thinking about; but there’s a problem, it also picks up on the brainwaves of other people near you!

Everyone writes down an animal in secret and then reveals it to the other writers.  The spell will turn you into a creature that combines elements of all the animals.  Each person then spends 5 minutes writing down what happens when they drink the potion.

After the 5 minutes is up, everyone shares their story with the other participants.

If you enjoy this exercise, then you may also want to check out our  Fantasy and Sci-Fi writing prompts  full of world building, magic, and character development prompts..

I remember

Joe Brainard wrote a novel called:  I Remember It contains a collection of paragraphs all starting with “I remember”.  This is the inspiration for this exercise, and if you’re stuck for what to write, is a great way to get the mental gears turning.  Simply write “I remember” and continue with the first thing that pops into your head.

Spend 5 minutes writing a short collection of “I remember” stories.

Here are a couple of examples from Joe Brainard’s novel:

“I remember not understanding why people on the other side of the world didn't fall off.”

“I remember waking up somewhere once and there was a horse staring me in the face.”

Giving constructive feedback to authors

If you're running a workshop for more experienced adult authors and have at least an hour, this is a good one to use. This is the longest exercise on this page, but I felt it important enough to include.

Give each author the option to bring a piece of their own work. This should be double spaced and a maximum of 3 pages long. If you're running a workshop where not everyone is likely to bring a manuscript, ask everyone who wants to bring one to print two copies each. If someone forgets but has a laptop with them, the reader can always use their laptop.

Print out a few copies and hand them around to everyone in the workshop of the guide on: 'How to give constructive feedback to writers'

Each author who brought a sample with them then gives them to one other person to review. They write their name on the manuscript in a certain colour pen, then add any comments to it before passing it to a second person who does the same (commenting on the comments if they agree or disagree).

Then allow 5 minutes for everyone to discuss the feedback they've received, ensuring they are giving constructive feedback.

Giovanni Battista Manerius - The Five Senses

Painting by Giovanni Battista Manerius -  The Five Senses

Choose a scene and write it for 5 minutes focusing on one sense, NOT sight. Choose between:

Hearing  Taste Smell Touch

This can be internal as well as external (I heard my heartbeat thudding in my ears, or I smelt my own adrenaline).

After the 5 minutes stop and everyone reads it out loud to each other. Now write for another 5 minutes and continue the other person's story, but do NOT use sight OR the sense they used.

You can use any sense to communicate the essentials, just focus on creating emotions and conveying the story with the specific sense(s).

If you need some writing prompts, here are possible scenes that involve several senses:

  • Climbing through an exotic jungle
  • Having an argument that becomes a fight
  • A cat's morning
  • Talking to someone you're attracted to

2 or 3 people

Show don't tell your story

A lot of writing guides will advise you to, "Show, don't tell". What does this actually mean?

If you want to evoke an emotional reaction from your reader, showing them what is happening is a great way to do so.  You can approach this in several ways:

Split up into pairs and each person writes down a short scene from a story where they "tell" it.  After this, pass the description of the scene to your partner and they then have 5 minutes to rewrite it to "show" what happened.  If there are an odd number of participants, make one group of three, with each person passing their scene clockwise, so everyone has a new scene to show.  After the 5 minutes, for small groups everyone reads their new description to everyone else, or for large groups, each person just reads their new scene to their partner.

  • Avoid internal dialogue (thinking), instead have your protagonist interact with other people, or have a physical reaction to something that shows how s/he feels.  Does their heart beat faster?  Do they notice the smell of their own adrenaline?  Do they step backwards, or lean forwards?
  • Instead of using an adjective like creepy, e.g. "Mary entered the creepy house", show why the house is creepy through description and in the way the protagonist responds - "The light streamed through the filthy skylight, highlighting the decomposing body of a rat resting on top of it.  As Mary stepped inside, she felt a gust of freezing air brush past her. She turned, but there was nothing there..."

Visual writing prompts

World building is the art of conveying the magic of living in a different world, whether it's a spaceship, a medieval castle, a boat, or simply someone's living room. To master world building, it's not necessary to know every intricate detail, rather to convey the experience of what it would be like to live there.

Choose one of the above images as a prompt and spend 10 minutes writing a scene from the perspective of someone who is seeing it for the first time. Now, move your character six months forward and imagine they've spent the last six months living or working there. Write another scene (perhaps with an additional character) using the image as a background, with the events of the scene as the main action.

Click the above image for a close-up.

Gossiping about a character as if they're a friend.

Easy to gossip with friends about a character

Judy Blume says that she tells her family about her characters as if they’re real people. 

Chris Claremont said, "For me, writing the 'X-Men' was easy - is easy. I know these people, they're my friends." 

Today’s exercise has 2 parts. First, spend 5 minutes jotting down some facts about a character you’ve invented that might come up if you were telling your friends about them. Either choose a character in something you’ve already written, or invent one from scratch now.

Answer the questions:

What are they up to? How are they? What would you say if you were gossiping about them?

Then split up into groups of 4 to 6 writers. 2 volunteers from each group then role-play talking about their character as if they were a friend (perhaps another character in the story).  The other participants will role-play a group of friends gossiping about the character behind their back and ask questions. If you don’t know the answer, invent it!

Degrees of emotion

This is based on an acting game, to help actors understand how to perform with different degrees of emotion.

Ask everyone to write the following 4 emotions:

For groups of 5 or less, write down numbers starting with 1 and going up until everyone has a number, then give them out in order. For groups of 6 or more, divide groups into 3's, 4's or 5's.

Each person has to write a scene where the protagonist is alone and is only allowed to say a single word, e.g. "Banana".  The writer with number 1 should write the scene with a very low level of the emotion (e.g. happiness), number 2 increases the intensity a bit and the highest number writes a scene with the most intense emotion you can possibly imagine.

Once each writer has written about happiness, rotate the numbers one or two spaces, then move onto anger, then fear, then sadness.

It can help to give everyone numbers showing the intensity of the emotions to write about at the start of the exercise, in which case you may wish to print either the Word or PDF file, then use the ones corresponding to 3, 4 or 5 writers.


Everyone shares their scene with the other course participants.

Kill three birds with one stone

The first paragraph of a surprising number of best-selling novels serves multiple purposes. These are to:

  • Establish a goal
  • Set the scene
  • Develop a character

Nearly every chapter in a novel also serves all three purposes. Instead of establishing a goal though, the protagonist either moves towards it, or encounters an obstacle that hinders them from achieving it.

Some books manage to meet all three purposes with their opening lines, for example:  

Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.

J.K. Rowling ,  Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone  

A little more than one hundred days into the fortieth year of her confinement, Dajeil Gelian was visited in her lonely tower overlooking the sea by an avatar of the great ship that was her home.

Iain M. Banks ,  Excession  

"We should start back," Gared urged as the woods began to grow dark around them.

George R.R. Martin ,  A Game of Thrones

For this exercise write a sentence or short paragraph that serves all three purposes. If you're already writing a novel, then see if you can do this for the first line in a chapter. If not, choose any combination from the following table:

Valentine's Day Book

In pairs one writer spends a minute or two describing a character they're writing about, or alternatively they can describe a celebrity or someone from a work of fiction.  The next writer then describes their character.

The story is that these 2 characters (or in my case, person and alien, as I'm writing a sci-fi) have accidentally ended up on a blind date with each other. Perhaps the waiter seated them in the wrong location, perhaps it's an actual blind date, or perhaps they met in some other fashion the writers can determine.

Now spend 10 minutes discussing what happens next!

Winning a race

This exercise works best for online groups, via Zoom, for example.  The instructions to give are:

"In a few words describe a success in your life and what it felt like to achieve it. It can be a small victory or a large one."

Share a personal example of your own (mine was watching my homeschooled sons sing in an opera together).

"Once you have one (small or large), write it in the chat.

The writing exercise is then to choose someone else's victory to write about for 10 minutes, as if it was the end of your own book.

If you want to write for longer, imagine how that book would start. Write the first part of the book with the ending in mind."

This is great for reminding people of a success in their lives, and also helps everyone connect and discover something about each other.

Dream holiday in France

You’re going on a dream holiday together, but always disagree with each other. To avoid conflict, rather than discuss what you want to do, you’ve decided that each of you will choose a different aspect of the holiday as follows:

  • Choose where you’ll be going – your favourite holiday destination.
  • Choose what your main fun activity will be on the holiday.
  • Decide what mode of travel you’ll use to get there.
  • If there’s a 4 th  person, choose what you’ll eat on the holiday and what you’ll be wearing.

Decide who gets to choose what at random. Each of you then writes down your dream holiday destination/activity/travel/food & clothes in secret.  Next spend 5 minutes discussing your dream holiday and add any other details you’d like to include, particularly if you’re passionate about doing something in real life.

Finally, everyone spends another 5 minutes writing down a description of the holiday, then shares it with the others.

Writing haiku

A haiku is a traditional Japanese form of non-rhyming poetry whose short form makes it ideal for a simple writing exercise.

They are traditionally structured in 3 lines, where the first line is 5 syllables, the second line is 7 syllables, and the third line is 5 syllables again. Haiku tend to focus on themes of nature and deep concepts that can be expressed simply.

A couple of examples:

A summer river being crossed how pleasing with sandals in my hands! Yosa Buson , a haiku master poet from the 18 th  Century.

And one of mine:

When night-time arrives Stars come out, breaking the dark You can see the most

Martin Woods

Spend up to 10 minutes writing a haiku.  If you get stuck with the 5-7-5 syllable rule, then don’t worry, the overall concept is more important!

See  How to write a haiku  for more details and examples.

Writing a limerick

Unlike a haiku, which is profound and sombre, a limerick is a light-hearted, fun rhyming verse.

Here are a couple of examples:

A wonderful bird is the pelican. His bill can hold more than his beli-can He can take in his beak Food enough for a week But I'm damned if I see how the heli-can.

Dixon Lanier Merritt, 1910

There was a young lady named Bright, Whose speed was far faster than light; She started one day In a relative way, And returned on the previous night.

Arthur Henry Reginald Buller in  Punch,  1923

The 1 st , 2 nd  and 5 th  line all rhyme, as do the 3 rd  and 4 th  line.  The overall number of syllables isn’t important, but the 3 rd  and 4 th  lines should be shorter than the others.

Typically, the 1 st  line introduces the character, often with “There was”, or “There once was”. The rest of the verse tells their story.

Spend 10 minutes writing a limerick.

Adult time travel

Imagine that your future self as an old man/woman travels back in time to meet you, the adult you are today.  Alternatively, you as a child travels forward in time to meet yourself as an adult.  Or perhaps both happen, so the child you, adult you, and senior you are all together at the same time.  In story form write down what happens next.

Participants then share their story with other writers either in small groups, or to the whole group.

Solo exercise

Describing a character

One challenge writers face is describing a character. A common mistake is to focus too much on the physical features, e.g. "She had brown eyes, curly brown hair and was five foot six inches tall."

The problem with this is it doesn't reveal anything about the character's personality, or the relationship between your protagonist and the character. Your reader is therefore likely to quickly forget what someone looks like.  When describing characters, it's therefore best to:

  • Animate them - it's rare that someone's sitting for a portrait when your protagonist first meets them and whether they're talking or walking, it's likely that they're moving in some way.
  • Use metaphors or similes  - comparing physical features to emotionally charged items conjures both an image and a sense of who someone is.
  • Involve your protagonist  - if your protagonist is interacting with a character, make it personal.  How does your protagonist view this person?  Incorporate the description as part of the description.
  • Only give information your protagonist knows  - they may know if someone is an adult, or a teenager, but they won't know that someone is 37 years old, for example.

Here are three examples of character descriptions that leave no doubt how the protagonist feels.

“If girls could spit venom, it'd be through their eyes.” S.D. Lawendowski,  Snapped

"And Ronan was everything that was left: molten eyes and a smile made for war." Maggie Stiefvater,  The Dream Thieves

"His mouth was such a post office of a mouth that he had a mechanical appearance of smiling." Charles Dickens

Spend 5 minutes writing a character introduction that is animated, uses metaphors or similes and involves your protagonist.

If working with a group, then form small groups of 3 or 4 and share your description with the rest of the group.

Onomatopeai, rhyme and alliteration

Onomatopeai, rhyme or alliteration.

Today's session is all about sound.

Several authors recommend reading your writing out loud after you've written it to be sure it sounds natural.   Philip Pullman  even goes as far as to say:

"When I’m writing, I’m more conscious of the sound, actually, than the meaning. I know what the rhythm of the sentence is going to be before I know what the words are going to be in it."

For today's exercise, choose the name of a song and write for 10 minutes as if that's the title for a short story. Focus on how your writing sounds and aim to include at least one onomatopoeia, rhyme or alliteration.  At the end of the 10 minutes, read it out loud to yourself, or to the group.


An alliteration example from Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”

The fair breeze blew, the white foam flew, The furrow followed free; We were the first that ever burst Into that silent sea.


Buzz, woof, quack, baa, crash, purr, beep, belch,...

alphabet story

This is a novel way to write a story as a group, one word at a time.  The first person starts the story that begins with any word starting with “A”, the next person continues the story with a word starting with “B”, and so on.

Keep going round until you have completed the alphabet.  Ideally it will all be one sentence, but if you get stuck, start a new sentence.  Don’t worry if it doesn’t make complete sense!

It can be tricky to remember the alphabet when under pressure, so you may wish to print it out a couple of times, so the storytellers can see it if they need to, this is particularly helpful if you have dyslexics in the group.


Here’s an example of an alphabet story:

A Band Can Dance Each Friday, Ghostly Hauntings In Jail Kill Lucky Men, Nobody Or Perhaps Quiet Rats, Still That Unifies Villains Who X-Ray Your Zebras.

As I mentioned, it doesn’t need to make sense!

Small or large groups

1 or 2 questions

The standard format in our group is a short writing exercise followed by an hour and a half of silent writing on our projects.

At one point I felt like we'd done a lot of small group exercises, and wanted to gain an insight into what everyone was working on, so we did the following exercise instead:

Go round the table and ask everyone to briefly talk about their writing.  Each person then asks one or two yes/no questions.

Everyone responds either by raising their hand for 'yes' or shaking their heads for 'no'. You can also leap up and down to indicate a very strong 'yes'.

Questions can be about anything, and you can use them either to help guide your writing or to help find other people in the group who have similar interests.

Here are some random examples you might ask:

  • I want to write a romance novel and am considering setting it in Paris, a traditional romantic setting, or Liverpool which is a less obvious setting. Who thinks Liverpool would be best?
  • I need to know more about the life of a farmer. Has anyone got farming experience who I can interview in exchange for a drink?
  • My character gets fired and that night goes back to his office and steals 35 computers. Does that sound realistic as the premise of a story?

This works best when you give participants some advance notice, so they have time to think of a question.

Groups of 3 or 4

Murder mystery

This exercise takes 20-30 minutes and allows participants to create a murder mystery outline together.

Phase 1 (3 minutes)

  • Split into groups of 3 or 4
  • Decide as a group where the murder occurs (e.g. the opera house, a bar, a casino)
  • Decide one person who will write the details of the victim and the murder itself.  Everyone else writes the details of one suspect each.
  • The ‘victim author’ then invents a few extra details about the scene of the crime, who the victim was (a teenage punk, an adult opera singer, etc.) and the murder weapon and summarises this to the others.

Phase 2 (10 minutes)

Each person then writes a police report as if they are either describing the scene of the crime, or recording the notes from their interview with a single suspect:

Write the following:

  • 1 line description of the victim.
  • When they were last seen by a group of witnesses (and what they were doing).
  • How the murder occurred in more detail based on the evidence available.

Write the following (from the perspective of the investigator):

  • 1 line description of the suspect
  • What they said during the interview (including what they claim to have doing when the murder occurs).
  • A possible motivation (as determined by the police from other witnesses).

Phase 3 (5 minutes)

  • Each person reads out their police reports to the other members of their small group
  • As a group, decide who the murderer was and what actually happened

See more ideas on  creating murder mystery party games

Obscure movie

Pick a famous movie and spend 5 minutes writing a scene from it from an unusual perspective.  Your aim is to achieve a balance between being too obscure and making it too obvious.  Feel free to add internal dialogue.

At the end of the 5 minutes, everyone reads their movie scene to the others and all the other participants see if they can guess what the movie is.

How to hint at romantic feelings

Write a scene with two people in a group, where you hint that one is romantically interested in the other, but the feelings aren’t reciprocated.

The goal of this exercise is to practice subtlety. Imagine you are setting a scene for the future where the characters feelings will become more important. Choose a situation like a work conference, meeting with a group of friends, etc. How do you indicate how the characters feel without them saying it in words?

Some tips for hinting at romantic feelings:

  • Make the characters nervous and shy.
  • Your protagonist leans forward.
  • Asks deeper questions and listens intently.
  • Finds ways to be close together.
  • Mirrors their gestures.
  • Gives lots of compliments.
  • Makes eye contact, then looks away.
  • Other people seem invisible to your protagonist.

Novel idea

Take it in turns to tell everyone else about a current project you’re working on (a book, screenplay, short story, etc.)

The other writers then brainstorm ideas for related stories you could write, or directions your project could take.  There are no right or wrong suggestions and the intention is to focus on big concepts, not little details.

This whole exercise takes around 15 minutes.

Exercise for groups of 3-5

Creative writing

If you're in larger group, split up into groups of 3 or 4 people.

Everyone writes the first line of a story in the Zoom chat, or on paper. Other people can then choose this line as a writing prompt.

For this exercise:

  • Say who the protagonist is.
  • Reveal their motivation.
  • Introduce any other characters

Once everyone's written a prompt, each author chooses a prompt (preferably someone eles's, but it can be your own if you feel really inspired by it.)  Then write for 10 minutes using this prompt. See if you can reveal who the protagonist is, what their motivation is (it can be a small motivation for a particular scene, it doesn't have to be a huge life goal), and introduce at least one new character.

Take turns reading out your stories to each other.

  • Write in the first person.
  • Have the protagonist interacting with an object or something in nature.
  • The challenge is to create intrigue that makes the reader want to know more with just a single line.

Creative story cards for students

Cut up a piece of paper and write one word on each of the pieces of paper, as follows:

Give each participant a couple of pieces of paper at random.  The first person says the first sentence of a story and they must use their first word as part of that sentence.  The second person then continues the story and must include their word in it, and so on.  Go round the group twice to complete the story.

You can also do this creative writing exercise with story dice, your own choice of words, or by asking participants to write random words down themselves, then shuffling all the cards together.

Alternative Christmas Story

Every Christmas adults tell kids stories about Santa Claus. In this exercise you write a Christmas story from an alternative dimension.

What if every Christmas Santa didn't fly around the world delivering presents on his sleigh pulled by reindeer? What if gnomes or aliens delivered the presents? Or perhaps it was the gnomes who are trying to emulate the humans? Or some other Christmas tradition entirely that we humans have never heard of!

Group writing exercise

If you're working with a group, give everyone a couple of minutes to write two possible themes for the new Christmas story. Each theme should be 5 words or less.

Shuffle the paper and distribute them at random. If you're working online, everyone types the themes into the Zoom or group chat. Each writer then spends 10 minutes writing a short story for children based on one of the two themes, or their own theme if they really want to.

If working alone, choose your own theme and spend 15 minutes writing a short story on it. See if you can create the magic of Christmas from another world!

Murder Mystery mind map

In a murder mystery story or courtroom drama, there's often conflicting information and lots of links between characters. A mind map is an ideal way to illustrate how everything ties together.

Split into groups of 3 or 4 people each and place a blank piece of A3 paper (double the size of A4) in the middle of each group. Discuss between you who the victim is and write their name in the middle of the piece of paper. Then brainstorm information about the murder, for example:

Feel free to expand out from any of these, e.g. to include more information on the different characters involved.

The idea is that  everyone writes at the same time!   Obviously, you can discuss ideas, but anyone can dive in and write their ideas on the mind map.

  • Who was the victim? (job, appearance, hobbies, etc.)
  • Who did the victim know?
  • What were their possible motivations?
  • What was the murder weapon?
  • What locations are significant to the plot?

New Year’s resolutions for a fictional character

List of ideas for a fictional character

If you’re writing a piece of fiction, ask yourself how your protagonist would react to an everyday situation. This can help you to gain a deeper insight into who they are.

One way to do this is to imagine what their New Year’s resolutions would be.

If completing this exercise with a group, limit it to 3 to 5 resolutions per person. If some participants are historical fiction or non-fiction writers, they instead pick a celebrity and either write what their resolutions  will  be, or what their resolutions  should  be, their choice.

Verb Noun Fiction Exercise (Inspired by Stephen King)

List of ideas for a fictional character

Stephen King said, "I believe the road to hell is paved with adverbs, and I will shout it from the rooftops."

He also said, "Take any noun, put it with any verb, and you have a sentence. It never fails. Rocks explode. Jane transmits. Mountains float. These are all perfect sentences. Many such thoughts make little rational sense, but even the stranger ones (Plums deify!) have a kind of poetic weight that’s nice."

In this fiction writing exercise, start by brainstorming (either individually or collectively) seven verbs on seven different pieces of paper. Put those aside for later. Now brainstorm seven nouns. Randomly match the nouns and verbs so you have seven pairs. Choose a pair and write a piece of fiction for ten minutes. Avoid using any adverbs.

It’s the end of the world

End of the world

It’s the end of the world!  For 5 minutes either:

If working as a team, then after the 5 minutes is up each writer reads their description out to the other participants.

  • Describe how the world’s going to end, creating evocative images using similes or metaphors as you wish and tell the story from a global perspective, or
  • Describe how you spend your final day before the world is destroyed.  Combine emotion and action to engage the reader.

7 Editing Exercises

For use after your first draft

Editing first draft

I’ve listened to a lot of masterclasses on writing by successful authors and they all say variants of your first draft won’t be good and that’s fine. Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman summarise it the best:

“The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.”  

Terry Pratchett

“For me, it’s always been a process of trying to convince myself that what I’m doing in a first draft isn’t important. One way you get through the wall is by convincing yourself that it doesn’t matter. No one is ever going to see your first draft. Nobody cares about your first draft. And that’s the thing that you may be agonising over, but honestly, whatever you’re doing can be fixed… For now, just get the words out. Get the story down however you can get it down, then fix it.”

Neil Gaiman

Once you’ve written your first draft, it will need editing to develop the plot, enhance the characters, and improve each scene in a myriad of ways – small and large. These seven creative editing exercises are designed to help with this stage of the process.

The First Sentence

Read the first paragraph of the novel, in particular the first sentence. Does it launch the reader straight into the action? According to  On Writing and Worldbuilding  by Timothy Hickson,  “The most persuasive opening lines are succinct, and not superfluous. To do this, it is often effective to limit it to a single central idea… This does not need to be the most important element, but it should be a central element that is interesting.” Ask yourself what element your opening sentence encapsulates and whether it’s the best one to capture your readers’ attention.


Consistency is crucial in creative writing, whether it’s in relation to location, objects, or people.

It’s also crucial for personality, emotions and motivation.

Look at scenes where your protagonist makes an important decision. Are their motivations clear? Do any scenes force them to choose between two conflicting morals? If so, do you explore this? Do their emotions fit with what’s happened in previous scenes?

As you edit your manuscript, keep the characters’ personality, emotions and motivation in mind. If their behaviour is inconsistent, either edit it for consistency, or have someone comment on their strange behaviour or be surprised by it. Inconsistent behaviour can reveal that a character is keeping a secret, or is under stress, so characters don’t always need to be consistent. But when they’re not, there has to be a reason.  

Show Don’t Tell One

This exercise is the first in  The Emotional Craft of Fiction  by Donald Maass. It’s a writing guide with a plethora of editing exercises designed to help you reenergize your writing by thinking of what your character is feeling, and giving you the tools to make your reader feel something.  

  • Select a moment in your story when your protagonist is moved, unsettled, or disturbed… Write down all the emotions inherent in this moment, both obvious and hidden.
  • Next, considering what he is feeling, write down how your protagonist can act out. What is the biggest thing your protagonist can do? What would be explosive, out of bounds, or offensive? What would be symbolic? … Go sideways, underneath, or ahead. How can your protagonist show us a feeling we don’t expect to see?
  • Finally, go back and delete all the emotions you wrote down at the beginning of this exercise. Let actions and spoken words do the work. Do they feel too big, dangerous, or over-the-top? Use them anyway. Others will tell you if you’ve gone too far, but more likely, you haven’t gone far enough.

Show Don’t Tell Two

Search for the following words in your book:

Whenever these words occur, ask yourself if you can demonstrate how your characters feel, rather than simply stating it. For each occasion, can you use physiological descriptors (a racing heart), actions (taking a step backwards) or dialogue to express what’s just happened instead? Will this enhance the scene and engage the reader more?

After The Action

Find a scene where your characters disagree – in particular a scene where your protagonist argues with friends or allies. What happens next?

It can be tempting to wrap up the action with a quick resolution. But what if a resentment lingers and mistrust builds? This creates a more interesting story arc and means a resolution can occur later, giving the character development a real dynamic.

Review how you resolve the action and see if you can stretch out the emotions for a more satisfying read.

Eliminating the Fluff

Ensure that the words used don’t detract from the enormity of the events your character is going through. Can you delete words like, “Quite”, “Little”, or “Rather”? 

Of “Very” Florence King once wrote: “ 'Very' is the most useless word in the English language and can always come out. More than useless, it is treacherous because it invariably weakens what it is intended to strengthen .” Delete it, or replace the word after it with a stronger word, which makes “Very” redundant.

“That,” is another common word used in creative writing which can often be deleted. Read a sentence as is, then reread it as if you deleted, “That”. If the meaning is the same, delete it.

Chapter Endings

When talking about chapter endings, James Patterson said,  “At the end, something has to propel you into the next chapter.”

Read how each of your chapters finish and ask yourself does it either:

  • End on a cliff hanger? (R.L. Stine likes to finish every chapter in this method).
  • End on a natural pause (for example, you’re changing point of view or location).

Review how you wrap up each of your chapters. Do you end at the best point in your story? Can you add anticipation to cliff hangers? Will you leave your readers wanting more?

The editing exercises are designed to be completed individually.

With the others, I've always run them as part of a creative writing group, where there's no teacher and we're all equal participants, therefore I keep any 'teaching' aspect to a minimum, preferring them to be prompts to generate ideas before everyone settles down to do the silent writing. We've recently gone online and if you run a group yourself, whether online or in person, you're welcome to use these exercises for free!

The times given are suggestions only and I normally get a feel for how everyone's doing when time's up and if it's obvious that everyone's still in the middle of a discussion, then I give them longer.  Where one group's in the middle of a discussion, but everyone else has finished, I sometimes have a 'soft start' to the silent writing, and say, "We're about to start the hour and a half of silent writing now, but if you're in the middle of a discussion, feel free to finish it first".

This way everyone gets to complete the discussion, but no-one's waiting for ages.  It's also important to emphasise that there's no wrong answers when being creative.

Still looking for more? Check out these creative writing prompts  or our dedicated Sci-Fi and Fantasy creative writing prompts

If you've enjoyed these creative writing exercises, please share them on social media, or link to them from your blog.

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Literacy Ideas

10 fun writing activities for the reluctant writer

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No doubt about it – writing isn’t easy. It is no wonder that many of our students could be described as ‘reluctant writers’ at best. It has been estimated by the National Association of Educational Progress that only about 27% of 8th and 12th Grade students can write proficiently.

As educators, we know that regular practice would go a long way to helping our students correct this underachievement, and sometimes, writing prompts just aren’t enough to light the fire.

But how do we get students, who have long since been turned off writing, to put pen to paper and log in the requisite time to develop their writing chops?

The answer is to make writing fun! In this article, we will look at some creative writing activities where we can inject a little enjoyment into the writing game.

Visual Writing Prompts


Fun Writing Tasks

25 FUN and ENGAGING writing tasks your students can complete INDEPENDENTLY with NO PREP REQUIRED that they will absolutely love.

Fully EDITABLE and works as with all DIGITAL PLATFORMS such as Google Classroom, or you can PRINT them for traditional writing tasks.

1. Poetry Scavenger Hunt


The Purpose: This activity encourages students to see the poetry in the everyday language around them while helpfully reinforcing their understanding of some of the conventions of the genre.

The Process: Encourage students to ‘scavenge’ their school, home, and outside the community for snippets of language they can compile into a piece of poetry or a poetic collage. They may copy down or photograph words, phrases, and sentences from signs, magazines, leaflets or even snippets of conversations they overhear while out and about.

Examples of language they collect may range from the Keep Out sign on private property to the destination on the front of a local bus.

Once students have gathered their language together, they can work to build a poem out of the scraps, usually choosing a central theme to give the piece cohesion. They can even include corresponding artwork to enhance the visual appeal of their work, too, if they wish.

The Prize: If poetry serves one purpose, it is to encourage us to look at the world anew with the fresh eyes of a young child. This activity challenges our students to read new meanings into familiar things and put their own spin on the language they encounter in the world around them, reinforcing the student’s grasp on poetic conventions.

2. Story Chains  

The Purpose: Writing is often thought of as a solitary pursuit. For this reason alone, it can be seen as a particularly unattractive activity by many of our more gregarious students. This fun activity exercises students’ understanding of writing structures and engages them in fun, creative collaboration.

The Process: Each student starts with a blank paper and pen. The teacher writes a story prompt on the whiteboard. You’ll find some excellent narrative writing prompts here . For example, each student spends two minutes using the writing prompt to kick-start their writing.  

When they have completed this part of the task, they will then pass their piece of paper to the student next to them. Students then continue the story from where the previous student left off for a given number of words, paragraphs, or length of time.

If organized correctly, you can ensure students receive their own initial story back at the end for the writing of the story’s conclusion .

The Prize: This fun writing activity can be used effectively to reinforce student understanding of narrative writing structures, but it can also be fun to try with other writing genres.

Working collaboratively motivates students to engage with the task, as no one wants to be the ‘weak link’ in the finished piece. But, more than that, this activity encourages students to see writing as a communicative and creative task where there needn’t be a ‘right’ answer. This encourages students to be more willing to take creative risks in their work.

3. Acrostic Associations

Writing Activities, fun writing | acrostic poems for teachers and students | 10 fun writing activities for the reluctant writer |

The Purpose: This is another great way to get students to try writing poetry – a genre that many students find the most daunting.

The Process: Acrostics are simple poems whereby each letter of a word or phrase begins a new line in the poem. Younger students can start off with something very simple, like their own name or their favorite pet and write this vertically down the page.

Older students can take a word or phrase related to a topic they have been working on or have a particular interest in and write it down on the page before beginning to write.

The Prize: This activity has much in common with the old psychiatrist’s word association technique. Students should be encouraged to riff on ideas and themes generated by the focus word or phrase. They needn’t worry about rhyme and meter and such here, but the preset letter for each line will give them some structure to their meanderings and require them to impose some discipline on their wordsmithery, albeit in a fun and loose manner.

4. The What If Challenge

Writing Activities, fun writing | fun writing tasks 1 | 10 fun writing activities for the reluctant writer |

The Purpose: This challenge helps encourage students to see the link between posing interesting hypothetical questions and creating an entertaining piece of writing.

The Process: To begin this exercise, have the students come up with a single What If question, which they can then write down on a piece of paper. The more off-the-wall, the better!

For example, ‘What if everyone in the world knew what you were thinking?’ or ‘What if your pet dog could talk?’ Students fold up their questions and drop them into a hat. Each student picks one out of the hat before writing on that question for a suitable set amount of time.

Example What If Questions

  • “What if you woke up one day and found out that you had the power to time travel?”
  • “What if you were the last person on Earth? How would you spend your time?”
  • “What if you were granted three wishes, but each one came with a terrible consequence?”
  • “What if you discovered a secret portal to another world? Where would you go, and what would you do?”
  • “What if you woke up one day with the ability to communicate with animals? How would your life change?”

The Prize: Students are most likely to face the terror of the dreaded Writer’s Block when they are faced with open-ended creative writing tasks.

This activity encourages the students to see the usefulness of posing hypothetical What If questions, even random off-the-wall ones, for kick-starting their writing motors.

Though students begin by answering the questions set for them by others, please encourage them to see how they can set these questions for themselves the next time they suffer from a stalled writing engine.

5. The Most Disgusting Sandwich in the World

Writing Activities, fun writing | disgusting sandwich writing task | 10 fun writing activities for the reluctant writer |

The Purpose: Up until now, we have looked at activities encouraging our students to have fun with genres such as fiction and poetry. These genres being imaginative in nature, more easily lend themselves to being enjoyable than some of the nonfiction genres.

But what about descriptive writing activities? In this activity, we endeavor to bring that same level of enjoyment to instruction writing while also cleverly reinforcing the criteria of this genre.

The Process: Undoubtedly, when teaching instruction writing, you will at some point cover the specific criteria of the genre with your students.

These will include things like the use of a title, numbered or bulleted points, time connectives, imperatives, diagrams with captions etc. You will then want the students to produce their own piece of instruction writing or procedural text to display their understanding of how the genre works.

 But, why not try a fun topic such as How to Make the Most Disgusting Sandwich in the World rather than more obvious (and drier!) topics such as How to Tie Your Shoelaces or How to Make a Paper Airplane when choosing a topic for your students to practice their instruction writing chops?

Example of a Most disgusting Sandwich Text

The Prize: As mentioned, with nonfiction genres, in particular, we tend to suggest more banal topics for our students to work on while internalizing the genre’s criteria. Enjoyment and acquiring practical writing skills need not be mutually exclusive.

Our students can just as quickly, if not more easily, absorb and internalize the necessary writing conventions while engaged in writing about whimsical and even nonsensical topics.

if your sandwich is entering the realm of horror, be sure to check our complete guide to writing a scary story here as well.


Daily Quick Write

Our FUN DAILY QUICK WRITE TASKS will teach your students the fundamentals of CREATIVE WRITING across all text types. Packed with 52 ENGAGING ACTIVITIES

6. Diary Entry of a Future Self

Writing Activities, fun writing | future self writing task | 10 fun writing activities for the reluctant writer |

The Purpose: This activity allows students to practice personal writing within the conventions of diary/journal writing. It also challenges them to consider what their world will be like in the future, perhaps stepping a foot into the realm of science fiction.

The Process: Straightforwardly, after working through some examples of diary or journal writing, and reviewing the various criteria of the genre, challenge the students to write an entry at a given milestone in the future.

This may be when they leave school, begin work, go to university, get married, have kids, retire etc. You may even wish to get the students to write an entry for a series of future milestones as part of a more extended project.

Example of Message to Future Me Text

The Prize: Students will get a chance here to exercise their understanding of this type of writing , but more than that, they will also get an opportunity to exercise their imaginative muscles too. They will get to consider what shape their future world will take in this engaging thought experiment that will allow them to improve their writing too.

7. Comic Strip Script


The Purpose: Give your students the chance to improve their dialogue writing skills and to work on their understanding of character development in this fun activity which combines writing with the use of a series of visual elements.

The Process: There are two ways to do this activity. The first requires you to source, or create, a comic strip minus the dialogue the characters are speaking. This may be as straightforward as using whiteout to erase the words in speech bubbles and making copies for your students to complete.

Alternatively, provide the students with photographs/pictures and strips of cards for them to form their own action sequences . When students have their ‘mute’ strips, they can begin to write the dialogue/script to link the panels together.

The Prize: When it comes to writing, comic strips are probably one of the easier sells to reluctant students! This activity also allows students to write for speech. This will stand to them later when they come to produce sections of dialogue in their narrative writing or when producing play or film scripts.

They will also develop their visual literacy skills as they scan the pictures for clues of tone and context before they begin their writing.

Keep It Fun

Just as we should encourage our students to read for fun and wider educational benefits, we should also work to instil similar attitudes towards writing. To do this means we must work to avoid always framing writing in the context of a chore, that bitter pill that must be swallowed for the good of our health.

There is no getting away from the fact that writing can, at times, be laborious. It is time-consuming and, for most of us, difficult at the best of times. There is a certain, inescapable amount of work involved in becoming a competent writer.

That said, as we have seen in the activities above, with a bit of creative thought, we can inject fun into even the most practical of writing activities . All that is required is a dash of imagination and a sprinkling of effort.

8. Character Interviews

Writing Activities, fun writing | 610f9b34b762f2001e00b814 | 10 fun writing activities for the reluctant writer |

The Purpose: Character interviews as writing activities are excellent for students because they encourage creative thinking, character development, and empathy. The purpose of this activity is to help students delve deeper into the minds of the characters they are creating in their stories or reading about in literature. By conducting interviews with these characters, students gain a better understanding of their personalities, motivations, and perspectives.

The Process of character interviews involves students imagining themselves as interviewers and their characters as interviewees. They can either write out the questions and answers in a script-like format or write a narrative where the character responds to the questions in their own voice.

The Prize: Through character interviews, students learn several valuable skills:

  • Character Development: By exploring various aspects of their characters’ lives, backgrounds, and experiences, students can develop more well-rounded and authentic characters in their stories. This helps make their fictional creations more relatable and engaging to readers.
  • Empathy and Perspective: Conducting interviews requires students to put themselves in their characters’ shoes, considering their thoughts, emotions, and struggles. This cultivates empathy and a deeper understanding of human behavior, which can be applied to real-life situations as well.
  • Voice and Dialogue: In crafting the character’s responses, students practice writing authentic dialogue and giving their characters unique voices. This skill is valuable for creating dynamic and believable interactions between characters in their stories.
  • Creative Expression: Character interviews provide a creative outlet for students to let their imaginations run wild. They can explore scenarios that may not appear in the main story and discover new aspects of their characters they might not have considered before.
  • Critical Thinking: Formulating questions for the interview requires students to think critically about their characters’ personalities and backgrounds. This exercise enhances their analytical skills and storytelling abilities.

Overall, character interviews are a dynamic and enjoyable way for students to delve deeper into the worlds they create or the literature they read. It nurtures creativity, empathy, and writing skills, empowering students to become more proficient and imaginative writers.

9. The Travel Journal

Writing Activities, fun writing | fun writing activities | 10 fun writing activities for the reluctant writer |

The Purpose: Travel journal writing tasks are excellent for students as they offer a unique and immersive way to foster creativity, cultural awareness, and descriptive writing skills. The purpose of this activity is to allow students to embark on a fictional or real travel adventure, exploring new places, cultures, and experiences through the eyes of a traveller.

The process of a travel journal writing task involves students assuming the role of a traveler and writing about their journey in a journal format. They can describe the sights, sounds, tastes, and emotions they encounter during their travels. This activity encourages students to use vivid language, sensory details, and expressive writing to bring their travel experiences to life.

The Prize: Through travel journal writing tasks, students will learn several valuable skills:

  • Descriptive Writing: By describing their surroundings and experiences in detail, students enhance their descriptive writing skills, creating engaging and vivid narratives.
  • Cultural Awareness: Travel journals encourage students to explore different cultures, customs, and traditions. This helps broaden their understanding and appreciation of diversity.
  • Empathy and Perspective: Through writing from the perspective of a traveler, students develop empathy and gain insight into the lives of people from different backgrounds.
  • Research Skills: For fictional travel journals, students might research specific locations or historical periods to make their narratives more authentic and accurate.
  • Reflection and Self-Expression: Travel journals offer a space for students to reflect on their own emotions, thoughts, and personal growth as they encounter new experiences.
  • Creativity and Imagination: For fictional travel adventures, students get to unleash their creativity and imagination, envisioning fantastical places and scenarios.
  • Language and Vocabulary: Travel journal writing tasks provide opportunities for students to expand their vocabulary and experiment with expressive language.

Overall, travel journal writing tasks inspire students to become more observant, empathetic, and skilled writers. They transport them to new worlds and foster a sense of wonder and curiosity about the world around them. Whether writing about real or imaginary journeys, students develop a deeper connection to the places they encounter, making this activity both educational and enjoyable.

10. The Fairy Tale Remix

Writing Activities, fun writing | Glass Slipper | 10 fun writing activities for the reluctant writer |

The Purpose: A fairy tale remix writing activity is a fantastic creative exercise for students as it allows them to put a unique spin on classic fairy tales, fostering imagination, critical thinking, and storytelling skills. This activity encourages students to think outside the box, reinterpret well-known tales, and explore their creative potential by transforming traditional narratives into something entirely new and exciting.

The process of a fairy tale remix writing activity involves students selecting a familiar fairy tale and altering key elements such as characters, settings, plot twists, or outcomes. They can modernize the story, change the genre, or even mix different fairy tales together to create a wholly original piece.

The Prize: Through this activity, students will learn several valuable skills:

  • Creative Thinking: Students exercise their creativity by brainstorming unique concepts and ideas to remix the fairy tales, encouraging them to think imaginatively.
  • Critical Analysis: Analyzing the original fairy tale to identify essential elements to keep and areas to remix helps students develop critical thinking skills and understand storytelling structures.
  • Writing Techniques: Crafting a remix requires students to use descriptive language, engaging dialogue, and well-developed characters, helping them hone their writing techniques.
  • Perspective and Empathy: Remixing fairy tales allows students to explore different character perspectives, promoting empathy and understanding of diverse points of view.
  • Genre Exploration: Remixing fairy tales can introduce students to various genres like science fiction, fantasy, or mystery, expanding their literary horizons.
  • Originality: Creating their own narrative twists and unexpected plots encourages students to take ownership of their writing and develop a unique voice.
  • Storytelling: Students learn the art of compelling storytelling as they weave together familiar elements with innovative ideas, captivating their readers.

By remixing fairy tales, students embark on a creative journey that empowers them to reimagine well-loved stories while honing their writing skills and imaginative prowess. It’s an engaging and enjoyable way for students to connect with literature, explore new possibilities, and showcase their storytelling talents.


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Library Home

Write or Left

(6 reviews)

introduction to creative writing activities

Sybil Priebe, North Dakota State College of Science

Copyright Year: 2016

Last Update: 2022

ISBN 13: 9798783934094

Publisher: Sybil Priebe

Language: English

Formats Available

Conditions of use.


Learn more about reviews.

introduction to creative writing activities

Reviewed by Corinne Ehrfurth, CE Instructor, Rochester Community & Technical College on 2/10/23

Priebe's book evocatively pushes the definition of "creative writing" to teach beyond the typical genres and modes. read more

Comprehensiveness rating: 5 see less

Priebe's book evocatively pushes the definition of "creative writing" to teach beyond the typical genres and modes.

Content Accuracy rating: 5

All the content looks accurate as well as engaging and thought-provoking.

Relevance/Longevity rating: 4

Leading with tweets could easily be replaced if this social media platform goes under after all the hullabaloo with Musk at the helm.

Clarity rating: 5

While Priebe's book plays off older texts with the ABCs, theses notes--such as the B, "inclusivity" (pg. 12), frames the textbook on a progressive scale that reaches outside notions of the pre-1980s literary canon. This textbook would not fit instructors concerned with a legacy and historical approach to creative writing.

Consistency rating: 5

The pattern of exercises, student examples, questions, tips or feedback continues throughout the entire textbook to provide modeling of habits, reasoning, and qualities of the genres of creative writing while also inviting classes of students to push the boundaries.

Modularity rating: 5

Hyper-modular with sound-bite like inclusions of tweets, call-out quotes, and other breaks in the text itself. The table of contents subdivides the last chapter into subheadings that the rest of the chapters could also be split into right away. Since the author cites herself (see a blog post on pg. 24 for example), some self-referential moments occur.

Organization/Structure/Flow rating: 5

The genre-based chapters provide a familiarity to long-time instructors of creative writing while also being student-friendly for writers who want to dive right away into something particular.

Interface rating: 4

The primary font choice becomes increasingly distracting the longer one reads, as it looks as if it's from a typewriter. Students with dyslexia might have greater issues reading this text when compared with other options.

Grammatical Errors rating: 4

Chapter titles and subtitles are not capitalized, which personally bothers me but fits the trendy style that might draw in younger students and less mature writers.

Cultural Relevance rating: 3

The more one reads this textbook, the less it makes good on its promise to include diverse voices since it features Walt Whitman and other typical canonical writers' excerpts as well as white people's or organization's tweets.

I especially enjoy how interactive this textbook would feel for writing students who want to hone and practice their craft.

Reviewed by Rachele Salvini, Emerging Writer Lecturer, Gettysburg College on 11/7/22

I decided to adopt Write or Left: an OER Book for Creative Writing Classes for my Introduction to Creative Writing classes for multiple reasons. The clarity and conciseness of the textbook makes it an excellent tool for college students who are... read more

I decided to adopt Write or Left: an OER Book for Creative Writing Classes for my Introduction to Creative Writing classes for multiple reasons. The clarity and conciseness of the textbook makes it an excellent tool for college students who are approaching writing creatively for the first time. I have used a few commercial textbooks and anthologies throughout the years, and while I found them to be extremely detailed and exhaustive, students seem to struggle with theoretical sections and they expressed difficulty understanding some of the anthologized readings. While most creative writing textbooks and anthologies might be extremely helpful for teachers, some of the selected readings might not be particularly accessible for students who are approaching reading literature as writers for the first time. However, the editors of Write or Left chose readings that seem to align with the taste and aesthetic that young writers find enjoyable or at least approachable.

Content Accuracy rating: 4

Introduction to Creative Writing is a class mostly based on workshops and lively discussions, but the students also need a foundational element — they need to familiarize themselves with a vocabulary that allows them to discuss writing. Write or Left provides brief and concise definitions that help the students navigate the vocabulary surrounding the particularities of poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, and dramatic writing.

Relevance/Longevity rating: 3

While the book does not provide a wide or particularly updated range of readings for each genre, it covers the main concepts that students need to know to start talking about writing and workshopping each other’s work — which is, I think, the main purpose of the basic Introduction to Creative Writing course.

Write or Left is an excellent tool for students who are approaching creative writing for the first time and need to familiarize themselves with the most important terms to use during reading discussion and workshop. Notably, this book also covers more innovative aspects of creative writing — flash fiction and multimodal writing — to avoid a banal and cut-and-dry institutionalization of the four main genres, and show once again the fluid, regenerating, and ever-shifting nature of creative writing.

The textbook offers very clear and consistent definitions of terms that students of creative writing should get familiar with during an introductory course.

I am very excited with the briefness of the "theoretical" chapters, as students usually struggle with long chapters that break down the elements of craft in the four genres of creative writing. I would be happy to assign a whole chapter for the introductory class of each genre (each module).

I found it hard to make most commercial textbooks approachable for the students, who seem often confused by the readings or bored with the lengthy theoretical explanations of creative writing terms. This textbook might be implemented with readings chosen by the instructor, allowing the course to benefit from a personalized, unique approach to creative writing, which might feel more dynamic and adventurous than following a textbook or an anthology page by page. Write or Left might be a great tool for sections of Introduction to Creative Writing with a high student count, as instructors might struggle to find the time to workshop every student in each genre, and also cover the readings from a commercial textbook to make it worthwhile for students who spent a lot of money on it. In fact, a lot of Introduction to Creative Writing students might have to take Creative Writing as a requirement and not an elective course, so having them buy expensive textbooks that they might not really use throughout the semester and then ever again might be a waste.

Interface rating: 5

The textbook is extremely easy to access. I think the students will be very happy to access their book online for free.

Grammatical Errors rating: 5

I haven't found any grammatical errors.

Cultural Relevance rating: 4

The readings used as example might represent a wider range of experiences and identities, but overall I'm satisfied.

Reviewed by Yelizaveta Renfro, Assistant Professor of English, Saint Mary's College on 5/5/22

This book’s ambitious attempt to cover so much ground—fiction, poetry, nonfiction, drama, experimental fiction, and specialized genres like fantasy, science fiction, horror, and romance—is ultimately its biggest weakness. There is no way a single... read more

Comprehensiveness rating: 3 see less

This book’s ambitious attempt to cover so much ground—fiction, poetry, nonfiction, drama, experimental fiction, and specialized genres like fantasy, science fiction, horror, and romance—is ultimately its biggest weakness. There is no way a single textbook can adequately cover all of these areas (and especially a slim volume like this one). As a result, the book is only the most cursory exploration of these multiple creative forms, barely scratching the surface of the field of creative writing. I could not imagine assigning this book in any course that I teach at the college level. Even my introduction to creative course—which covers fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction in one semester—requires a text that goes more deeply into these genres and that offers more substantial content.

I would like to see more precision and thoughtful wording, especially in defining terms. For example, the glossary definition of “fantasy” that is offered at the end of the book is, “the kind of writing that cannot take place in real life.” This is imprecise and even potentially confusing; doing the simplest internet search will yield a much a better definition. For much of the book, the information is not so much inaccurate as it is general and incomplete.

The general topics included in the book are certainly relevant, but an instructor using this text would need to supplement every step along the way. Not only are the explanations in some of the chapters too basic and brief, but the examples (when they exist at all) leave much to be desired, being limited mostly to older texts (nineteenth-century texts like an excerpt from Frankenstein or a story by Kate Chopin) or texts written by the instructor’s students (which are very typical of works produced by beginning creative writers). What students need most are high-quality, recent models for their own work. There are thousands of such works available online. While I understand that Priebe cannot reproduce these texts in her book, readers could still be pointed towards online literary journals that publish excellent creative writing.

Clarity rating: 4

The writing is generally clear, though as I noted elsewhere, definitions of terms could be more precise. The tone of the book is informal and friendly, making it easy to follow. I think that most student would find the book clear and accessible.

Consistency rating: 3

The book seems somewhat inconsistent in the depth of treatment it gives to different genres. For example, in the chapter on drama, there is an exhaustive discussion of the proper way to format a screenplay (the correct font and margins, rendering action and dialogue, and so forth), which makes up the majority of the chapter and strikes me as an unnecessary level of detail for beginning students (and the student example that is offered at the end of the chapter does not even adhere to these “proper formatting” rules). Meanwhile, other chapters are woefully lacking in necessary content. In the poetry chapter, for example, the poetic “forms” that are included seem arbitrary, and there is no real discussion of poetic meter. An introduction to poetry is incomplete without a basic overview of metrical feet.

Modularity rating: 4

In principle, it would be possible to use any of the chapters in this book as stand-alone readings for a course. Instructors could easily switch the order of the chapters around to suit their own progression through genres. The most useful chapter, in my option, is Chapter 10: Assignment and Project ideas, which offers a sizable collection of writing prompts, reading response activities, and portfolio ideas. While these are of varying usefulness and I would not offer them all as options for my students, some do stand out as excellent exercises.

Organization/Structure/Flow rating: 3

I did question the order of some of the chapters. For example, why does the chapter on flash fiction (a sub-genre of fiction) come before the general fiction chapter? And why does flash fiction have a chapter of its own, when there is barely any content? (The chapter is all of two and a half pages long.)

Interface rating: 3

The font in the pdf version that I read is not at all reader friendly and is hard on the eyes, in my opinion. I also found the screenshots of Tweets that lead off most chapters to be distracting and confusing, and the text offers no explanation or discussion of these, which adds to the impression that the book is a superficial hodgepodge, dropping in content without engaging with it.

Grammatical Errors rating: 3

While Priebe’s portion of the text is largely free of errors, the student texts that she includes do sometimes contain grammatical errors. While I understand the urge to present student writing as it is written, in a textbook I would expect writing that has been proofread.

This is a book that is at least aware of diversity/and inclusivity. In the opening chapter, Priebe lists the steps she has taken: “Most of the he/she pronouns have been flipped for they/them pronouns,” “‘White-sounding’ names have been replaced by more diverse ones,” “‘Husband’ or ‘wife’ have been replaced by ‘partner,’” and “The majority of examples in this book, by students or otherwise, are not written by white, heterosexual, cisgender men.” While I commend Priebe for her efforts, some of these moves strike me as cosmetic fixes, and the example published and student-written texts do not obviously reflect diverse perspectives (that is, they don’t explicitly tackle issues of race, gender, sexual orientation, ability, etc.). I would imagine that as Priebe continues to gather more information for future editions of this book, the diversity of voices represented will increase.

While I would not use this book in my college courses in its present form, I do think that is has a lot of potential and that future iterations of the book are likely to have enhanced content. As Priebe collects more student writing samples and as students fill in the numerous empty “Questions/Activities” sections that occur at the end of many chapters, this book may very well grow into a rich resource for creative writing instructors. I am planning to revisit this book in future editions to see what new material it has to offer.

Reviewed by Megan Green, Assistant Teaching Professor, Bowling Green State University on 4/25/22

This book offers a useful, concise guide for beginning creative writers. While many of the topics could be expanded upon, it fulfills its promise to offer only condensed snapshots of each subject. It would make a helpful addition to readings... read more

This book offers a useful, concise guide for beginning creative writers. While many of the topics could be expanded upon, it fulfills its promise to offer only condensed snapshots of each subject. It would make a helpful addition to readings chosen by a professor and to selective texts about elements that may require more insightful approaches and in-depth discussions. Chapters that may require additional readings for most introductory classes include the chapters about flash fiction and drama.

The content offers accurate, up-to-date information about creative writing.

Relevance/Longevity rating: 5

The chapter topics are highly relevant and up-to-date. I particularly enjoyed that the author chose to incorporate a chapter on multimodal works, which is something I have found numerous authors either glance over or fail to explore. Likewise, the choice to conclude with a section about how to get published offers relevant and significant points that students should be made aware of at an early stage.

Priebe implements small doses of humor throughout the book that are engaging (I do wish there were more, though!) and utilizes Plain Language to make the reading accessible.

Each chapter is structured identically, beginning with readings about the chapter's topics and ending with exercises.

Each chapter is short and could, in itself, be an easy reading assignment. However, chapters have smaller reading sections that can be assigned. Instructors should be aware that many exercises are written as thoughts to instructors rather than students and, thus, may require editing.

Each chapter offers concise readings over topics followed by exercises. Multiple exercises are listed so teachers can find one or two they would like to employ, and many are creative and effective at reiterating learning objectives.

The book is offered in multiple formats, including PDF, Word, and Google Doc. In the PDF version I perused, there were no interface issues.

There are a very few small mechanical and/or grammatical mistakes.

Cultural Relevance rating: 5

The author makes it a point to offer a variety of works in this textbook rather than canonical works that are oftentimes the labor of White male authors. Non-binary language also makes the text more inclusive.

The strongest element of this work is its suggested exercises, many of which may be used as in-class activities to further explore topics.

Reviewed by Clifford Buttram, Assistant Professor of Management, University of Saint Francis on 3/22/22

The discussion of key writing areas is organized in a smoothly flowing manner. From Poetry to Experimental and Children's Literature, the content was well organized and indexed efficiently for understanding and analysis. The book is neither too... read more

The discussion of key writing areas is organized in a smoothly flowing manner. From Poetry to Experimental and Children's Literature, the content was well organized and indexed efficiently for understanding and analysis. The book is neither too long or too short (page length) to still be quite effective.

While I'm not a Creative Writing expert, I found the book quite accurate regarding the elements of idea formation and flow from an author or writer's perspective. I've written three historical fiction books and am currently working on a ten novella set in the same category. In choosing to review this book, I found it's accuracy in how an author thinks, organizes, and creates scenarios to be very helpful. The many quotes and references helped me greatly in forming new ideas and writing strategies, even in one chapter or sub chapter of my current book. I found no bias in any chapters, however, the informative proved was both relevant and useful.

I feel this book is not only relevant, but highly useful as a handbook companion piece. Although the title refers to a textbook, I found its organization to be formatted in a more usable sense as a handbook. A reader could focus on one chapter, a few chapters, or the entire book as a strong and handy reference. Although I read the entire book, a particular focus for me were the Fiction, Drama, and Flash Fiction chapters. Each provided much needed guidance and advice for idea creation and tips to improve elemental writing.

The chapter organization was clear throughout the book. Each chapter utilized an introduction of the key topic, self-questions, reading strategies, and exercises. I also enjoyed the dispersed quotes throughout the chapters that helped to support the key points within the chapter.

As noted above, the consistency of each chapter (organization) helped ensure a stronger understanding and immersion into the specific area of writing by chapter. The author cleverly injects quotes, references, and definitions to combine an effort to improve the reader's ability to apply these concepts. Additionally, this allows for a more even flow of information, even in chapters that may not be in the reader's interest.

Each chapter is distinct, however, the coordination and organization of the entire book creates a crescendo effect for the reader. Although each chapter is specific, it can be both compartmentalized and utilized as a complete handbook. This modularity further enables a reader to use the book as a specific reference or a complete handbook/guide.

The book was well organized and logical. The reading was made easier by the flow of information and the combination of data, quotes, and references used throughout the book.

I did not note any interface issues.

I did not note any grammatical errors.

The text is neither culturally insensitive or offensive. I noted that the character/third person student examples were mostly benign which helped to decipher the author's intent. In Chapter 2, a section noted as 'Your Voice' spoke to holes in diversity when writing. I found this helpful for students to understand that not all areas of writing interest are not interesting to everyone. However, one should write to increase the value to the audience and the writer. I found this to be excellent advice and guidance.

I found the book to be an excellent resource for a creative writer. The final chapter discussed Children's Literature and how the previous chapters were applicable to this specific genre. The final chapter (Assignment and Project Ideas) was quite useful for a writer experiencing a block or one simply working a new idea. One recommendation would be to title the book as a Handbook or Reference Guide as the Table of Contents and structure is formatted to provide specific and detailed information on specific creative writing elements. At 168 pages, it has the length for a small textbook, but a better fit as a Handbook for creative writers of all genres. There are many ideas, strategies, and helpful tips throughout the book to help most writers think and write more clearly and effectively.

Reviewed by Justine Jackson Stone, Special Purpose Faculty, Radford University on 3/8/22

The book’s overall intention is to present condensed chapters on the various genres of creative writing, and while condensed, the content is too terse. Chapters one through eight are generalized approaches that provide basic information with some... read more

Comprehensiveness rating: 2 see less

The book’s overall intention is to present condensed chapters on the various genres of creative writing, and while condensed, the content is too terse. Chapters one through eight are generalized approaches that provide basic information with some examples few and far between. The chapter on flash fiction is brief, only lasting from pages 53-57. The textbook also appears to be incomplete, missing student writing examples in addition to other literary recommendations. In chapter nine, the large overview of different genres such as horror, young adult, etc. provides some recommended writers for students, but this is not consistent throughout the textbook. In order for students to improve their creative writing skills, they need to read. A recommended reading list would make this textbook more effective. The index is well-done and easy to read. The glossary could benefit from additional terms added, but it’s a good start for students to grasp the terminology.

The content is accurate. For a college-level course, however, some of the content is quite juvenile. For example, a writing prompt on page 100 asks the writer to “Tell the story of a dragon who owns a jelly bean factory in an experimental way.” This prompt seems far more appropriate for elementary and middle school students. If the author suggested this prompt as an activity for how to write a children’s book, I could understand its inclusion.

The content of the book is expansive but basic. Overall, the textbook will remain relevant, though a teacher using this book would need to find supplemental material to increase student understanding of the different categories of creative writing. In addition, chapter nine briefly discusses publication opportunities and includes instructions on how to publish directly through Amazon. I found this to be an odd inclusion and question if it is necessary.

Clarity rating: 3

The author uses a conversational and informal tone throughout, which students tend to appreciate. Terms are well-defined for a basic understanding, though more context or examples would deepen student learning. The author tends to share more of her own personal experiences with writing rather than those of her students, which I think misses the mark for her intended audience. In addition, her humor ranges from childish to lewd, which I found at times to be off-putting.

Consistency rating: 4

Terminology is included in each chapter, though due to the condescending nature of the textbook, instructors may consider using supplemental material. In chapter two, the author covers a few fundamentals of creative writing such as point of view, character, setting, etc. For an introduction to creative writing class, it may be necessary to expand these definitions as some students may not have prior knowledge of understanding of these terms. The framework is fairly solid though lacking in student examples. I do appreciate the ample inclusion of creative writing prompts as students tend to find these useful and fun.

Modularity rating: 3

The author effectively uses subheadings to organize information. Information was well-displayed, avoiding larger blocks of text. Each chapter was clearly laid out, and the index was easy to follow. The text is very self-referential to the author. In example 2 of chapter zero, one of the activities states the following: “When we write, we’re using the alphabet. Duh. Yet, how many times have we used these letters to organize or brainstorm? Try using the alphabet to brainstorm different things characters could say in different pieces of fiction and drama and nonfiction.” The author uses herself in this example, including statements such things as, ‘J = “Jeezus Marth and Mary… will you please hurry up?’ (p. 16). I think the exercise would have been more effective if a character bio was given and then examples were provided rather than assuming the reader knows anything about the author. In addition, phrases like ‘Duh’ and other slang can be confusing for students who do not speak English as a first language.

I do not think the chapters are effectively organized. The fiction chapter should come before the flash fiction chapter, and I would personally place nonfiction after fiction instead of drama coming next. In chapter two of the review of the elements, I would personally discuss character first before point of view. I also ponder if it would be better to know these terms first before doing creative exercises to have a basic foundation before students start writing.

Interface rating: 1

The inclusion of Twitter screen captures at the beginning of each chapter is grossly unnecessary. They do not add anything to the chapter context and do not fit well into the design. Without a caption to explain these pictures' inclusion, I do think students could find them confusing. As far as I can tell, there’s no text over the image or note that the images are decorative. The charts included in chapter zero may be useful to some, but I did not find them overly beneficial. Finally, I found the textbook fonts to be hard on the eyes while reading.

The text was mostly free of grammatical errors. The author sometimes uses internet text speech or ALL CAPS, which I find to be inappropriate for a college textbook. In one of the dialogue examples, the author writes, “’Oh.My.God. For real?’” (p. 16). In another example, the author writes, “Writer’s block can happen to ANYONE” (p. 22). There are other ways to create emphasis, and if we want students to be published, they should know how to emphasize their work without gimmicks.

The book does contain adult language which may not be appropriate for all readers. As far as inclusion goes, the author has made a point to be inclusive, stating on page 12: “'White-sounding’ names have been replaced by more diverse ones … ‘husband’ or ‘wife’ have been replaced by ‘partner’ … and ‘the majority of examples in this book, by students or otherwise, are not written by white, heterosexual, cisgender men.’” In addition, the author discusses “holes in diversity” in chapter two, which is an incredibly important topic to address.

Write or Left: an OER textbook for creative writing classes is the kitchen sink of creative writing books, and unfortunately, is too broad in scope to be effective. While the author clearly states this is an introductory textbook for creative writing classes “with condensed chapters,” the notion that a student should learn poetry, flash fiction, fiction, drama, nonfiction, and experimental writing in a single semester is haphazard. Rather than developing a solid foundation of each type of creative writing, students and teachers alike are expected to blitz through each chapter, complete some creative writing prompts, and miraculously be competent. Combine this with the notion that students shouldn’t be assigned grades for their creative writing (p. 13), and it’s no wonder academia often sneers at creative writing as a field of study. While I do applaud the author’s efforts to make this textbook more diverse and inclusive in its examples, I found the overall book greatly lacking in content to be effective in the classroom.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter 1: Intro to Creative Writing
  • Chapter 2: Review of Elements
  • Chapter 3: Poetry 
  • Chapter 4: Flash Fiction
  • Chapter 5: Fiction 
  • Chapter 6: Drama 
  • Chapter 7: Nonfiction   
  • Chapter 8: Experimental Literature
  • Chapter 9: Final Chapter
  • Chapter 10: Assignment and Project Ideas

Ancillary Material

About the book.

In this book, we'll go over some of the general principles of writing practices as well as advice and tips on how to write creatively, but mainly, you’ll be introduced to as many genres and categories as possible. We won’t get bogged down in doing the writing process “perfectly” or creating “perfect literature.” The goal is to learn about as many genres as possible, practice writing in those genres, and get feedback.

About the Contributors

Sybil Priebe lives in the upper Midwest with her partner-in-crime and crabby old cat. She teaches various composition courses at the North Dakota State College of Science in Wahpeton, ND. She likes books, bicycles, and blasphemy.

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Humanities LibreTexts

1.1: Intro to Creative Writing

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  • Page ID 132138

  • Sybil Priebe
  • North Dakota State College of Science via Independent Published

introduction to creative writing activities

chapter 1: intro to creative writing:

Creative writing\(^7\) is any writing that goes outside the bounds of “normal”\(^8\) “professional,”\(^9\) journalistic, “academic,”\(^{10}\) or technical forms of literature, typically identified by an emphasis on narrative craft, character development, and the use of literary tropes or with various traditions of poetry and poetics. Due to the looseness of the definition, it is possible for writing such as feature stories to be considered creative writing, even though they fall under journalism, because the content of features is specifically focused on narrative and character development. 

Both fictional and nonfictional works fall into this category, including such forms as novels, biographies, short stories, and poems. In the academic setting, creative writing is typically separated into fiction and poetry classes, with a focus on writing in an original style, as opposed to imitating pre-existing genres such as crime or horror. Writing for the screen and stage—screenwriting and playwrighting—are often taught separately but fit under the creative writing category as well.

Creative writing can technically be considered any writing of original composition. 

the creative process: \(^{11}\)

Some people can simply sit down to write and have something to write about. For others, finding something to write about can be the hardest part of creative writing. Assuming that you are not in the first group, there are several things you can do to create ideas. Not all of these will work for all people, but most are at least useful tools in the process. Also, you never know when you might have an idea. Write down any ideas you have at any time and expand on them later.

For stories and poetry, the simplest method is to immerse yourself in the subject matter. If you want to write a short story, read a lot of short stories. If you want to write a poem, read poems. If you want to write something about love, read a lot of things about love, no matter the genre. 

the writing process “reminder”\(^{12}\)

Please Note: Not all writers follow these steps perfectly and with each project, but let’s review them to cover our butts:



Outline\(^{13}\) your entire story so you know what to write.  Start by writing a summary of your story in 1 paragraph. Use each sentence to explain the most important parts of your story. Then, take each sentence of your paragraph and expand it into greater detail. Keep working backward to add more detail to your story. This is known as the “snowflake method” of outlining.

getting started:

Find a comfortable space to write: consider the view, know yourself well enough to decide what you need in that physical space (music? coffee? blanket?).

Have the right tools: computer, notebook, favorite pens, etc.

Consider having a portable version of your favorite writing tool (small notebook or use an app on your phone?).

Start writing and try to make a daily habit out of it, even if you only get a paragraph or page down each day.

Keys to creativity: curiosity, passion, determination, awareness, energy, openness, sensitivity, listening, and observing...

getting ideas:

Ideas are everywhere! Ideas can be found:

Notebook or Image journal

Media: Magazines, newspapers, radio, TV, movies, etc.

Conversations with people

Artistic sources like photographs, family albums, home movies, illustrations, sculptures, and paintings.

Daily life: Standing in line at the grocery store, going to an ATM, working at your campus job, etc.

Music: Song lyrics, music videos, etc.

Beautiful or Horrible Settings

Favorite Objects

Favorite Books

How to generate ideas:

Play the game: "What if..."

Play the game: "I wonder..."

Use your favorite story as a model.

Revise favorite stories - nonfiction or fiction - into a different genre.

writer's block:\(^{14}\)

Writer’s block can happen to ANYONE, so here are some ways to break the block if it happens to you:

Write down anything that comes to mind. 

Try to draw ideas from what has already been written.

Take a break from writing. 

Read other peoples' writing to get ideas.

Talk to people. Ask others if they have any ideas.

Don't be afraid of writing awkwardly. Write it down and edit it later.

Set deadlines and keep them.

Work on multiple projects at a time; this way if you need to procrastinate on one project, you can work on another!

If you are jammed where you are, stop and write somewhere else, where it is comfortable.

Go somewhere where people are. Then people-watch. Who are these people? What do they do? Can you deduce\(^{15}\) anything based on what they are wearing or doing or saying? Make up random backstories for them, as if they were characters in your story.

peer workshops and feedback acronyms: \(^{16}\)

Having other humans give you feedback will help you improve misunderstandings within your work. Sometimes it takes another pair of eyes to see what you “missed” in your own writing. Please try not to get upset by the feedback; some people give creative criticism and others give negative criticism, but you will eventually learn by your own mistakes to improve your writing and that requires peer review and feedback from others. 

If you are comfortable having your friends and family read your work, you could have them\(^{17}\) peer review your work. Have a nerdy friend who corrects your grammar? Pay them in pizza perhaps to read over your stuff!? If you are in college, you can use college tutors to review your work.

Peer Workshop activities can help create a “writing group vibe” to any course, so hopefully, that is a part of the creative writing class you are taking.


The acronyms involved with feedback – at least according to the educators of Twitter – are WWW and TAG. Here’s what they stand for, so feel free to use these strategies in your creative writing courses OR when giving feedback to ANYONE.

Are you open to the kinds of feedback you’ll get using that table above with the WWW/TAG pieces?

What do you typically want feedback on when it comes to projects? Why?

What do you feel comfortable giving feedback to classmates on? Why?

\(^7\)"Creative Writing." Wikipedia . 13 Nov 2016. 21 Nov 2016, 19:39 < >. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.

\(^8\)Whoa, what is normal anyway?

\(^9\)What IS the definition of “professionalism”?

\(^{10}\)Can’t academic writing be creative?

\(^{11}\)"Creative Writing/Introduction." Wikibooks, The Free Textbook Project . 10 May 2009, 04:14 UTC. 9 Nov 2016, 19:39

< >. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.

\(^{12}\)It doesn’t really matter who created it; all you need to know is that you don’t HAVE to follow it perfectly. Not many people do.

\(^{13}\)Wikihow contributors. "How to Write Science Fiction." Wikihow. 29 May 2019. Web. 22 June 2019. . Text available under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0).

\(^{14}\)"Creative Writing/Fiction technique." Wikibooks, The Free Textbook Project . 28 Jun 2016, 13:38 UTC. 9 Nov 2016, 20:36

< >. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.

\(^{15}\)Deduce = to reach a conclusion.

\(^{16}\)"Creative Writing/Peer Review." Wikibooks, The Free Textbook Project. 16 Aug 2016, 22:07 UTC. 9 Nov 2016, 20:12

< >. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.

\(^{17}\)This textbook we’ll try to use they/them pronouns throughout to be inclusive of all humans.

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19 Fantastic Introduction Activities

March 15, 2023 //  by  Alexandra Shore

The first day of class can be intimidating for both students and teachers. One of the best ways to kick off the first day is to include some simple activities, fun games, and icebreakers to help the class familiarize themselves with each other. We’ve compiled a list of 19 introduction activities to turn that first-day anxiety into a great start to an awesome year!

1. Have a Paper Ball “Fight” 

Who doesn’t love an activity that serves as both a game and an introduction? Write questions on paper, have a “paper ball fight”, and then spend time answering each question.

Learn More: That After-School Life

2. M&M Get to Know You 

All you need for this great game are icebreaker questions and different colored candy. Each student will receive a bag of colorful candy. Using the legend, they will take turns answering different humorous and informational questions based on the candy colors.

Learn More: She’s Crafty Crafty

3. Beach Ball Game

This game of introductions only involves a beach ball and a marker. Write questions on the ball and have students take turns passing it to each other and answering the questions.

Learn More: Joy in the Journey

4. Classmate Bingo

This activity puts a twist on a classic game: Bingo! Each student will get a copy of this paper. Have them ask their classmates to sign each box until someone gets “bingo”.

Learn More: Paper Trail Design

5. Puzzle Piece Activity

Coming up with ideas for breaking the ice can be exhausting. Thankfully, this easy project can help students get to know each other and create a sense of unity in the class. Each student will fill in their puzzle piece with pictures and information about themselves.

Learn More: Top Teaching Tasks

6. Play Would You Rather

Would you rather is a fantastic game for breaking the ice. It’s a great way to highlight similarities and differences between students. Cut out the questions and you’re ready to play.

Learn More: Skip to My Lou

7. Question Jenga

Who doesn’t love Jenga? This fun twist on an already popular (and classic) game provides students with a chance to work together. Write questions (or tape them) onto Jenga blocks and then have students play Jenga like they normally would; answering a question each time they pull out a block. 

Learn More: Raising Memories

8. Take What You Need

Taking what you need involves toilet paper, students, and a great time. Tell the students to “Take as much as they need” when passing out toilet paper. Then, explain that students will share one fact about themselves for each square they took. 

Learn More: Counseling Essentials

9. Switch Sides

This is not only a fun way to get to know one another, but it’s also a great physical activity! All you need is a tape and a list of “switch sides if” statements such as “Switch sides if you prefer Summer more than Winter”. Each person will start on the same side of the tape. After each statement, people will move to show which side “represents” them. 

Learn More: Mommies Hobbies

10. Heads or Tails

Heads or tails is a great getting-to-know-you activity. All you need is a coin and a deck of heads or tail cards. A person will flip a coin and then answer the question based on whatever it lands on.

Learn More: Smitten With First

11. Dice-Breaker

This introduction requires dice and this key. All the students need to do is roll the dice and answer the corresponding question. 

Learn More: K and M Classroom

12. Getting to Know You Bag

This activity could require more than one day to complete as students might want to take their bags home and fill them with items that represent them. If you don’t have time for that, have students draw pictures or write about items they would put in their bags. 

Learn More: First Grader At Last

13. Fortune Tellers

Who doesn’t love to make and play with a fortune teller? This awesome resource requires paper, scissors, and coloring tools. After the fortune teller is made, students can ask each other questions to get to know one another better.  

Learn More: Pathway 2 Success

14. 2 Truths and a Lie

Two truths and lie involves students writing down three facts; two that are true and one that is a lie. Next, students will share these three facts with each other and take turns guessing which two are true and which is the lie.

15. Question Sticks 

We love fun and simple activities. All you need for this one is popsicle sticks, a marker, and a cup. Write questions on each stick. Have students then take turns answering each question.

Learn More: Peace, Love, School Counseling

16. Guess Who

Guess Who is such a fun game to play to get to know each other. For this game, students will fill out the forms. After turning the forms in, the teacher will read the information aloud and the students will take turns guessing whose card it is. 

Learn More: Create Abilities

17. Comparison Game 

This game is perfect for helping students get to know their classmates. The teacher can project this list on the board and students can walk around with lined paper. Ask them to go around the classroom, they will write the name of the person who fits the description of that number. 

Learn More: Mind Sparks

18. Chit Chat Cards

Icebreaker questions are a great way to break the ice between classmates. Print off these questions and have students answer them in small groups or in pairs. 

Learn More: Mrs. Beers

19. Rainbow Introductions

Who doesn’t love a fun introduction art activity ? All you need is white paper, colorful paper, scissors, and glue. Have students write their names on a cloud. Each part of the rainbow includes a fact about the student or a characteristic describing them.

Learn More: Tunstall’s Teaching Tidbits

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ENGX1021 – An Introduction to Creative Writing

2021 – session 2, fully online/virtual.

Session 2 Learning and Teaching Update

The decision has been made to conduct study online for the remainder of Session 2 for all units WITHOUT mandatory on-campus learning activities. Exams for Session 2 will also be online where possible to do so.

This is due to the extension of the lockdown orders and to provide certainty around arrangements for the remainder of Session 2. We hope to return to campus beyond Session 2 as soon as it is safe and appropriate to do so.

Some classes/teaching activities cannot be moved online and must be taught on campus. You should already know if you are in one of these classes/teaching activities and your unit convenor will provide you with more information via iLearn. If you want to confirm, see the list of units with mandatory on-campus classes/teaching activities .

Visit the MQ COVID-19 information page for more detail.

General Information

introduction to creative writing activities

Important Academic Dates

Information about important academic dates including deadlines for withdrawing from units are available at

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, you will be able to:

  • ULO1: Achieve creative writing and reading skills in relation to concepts, topics, craft, technique and voice
  • ULO2: Evaluate creative writing processes
  • ULO3: Identify, engage with and apply concepts of narrative form and poetry
  • ULO4: Analyse and discuss the work of others in group discussions

General Assessment Information

  • Written assignments are submitted via Turnitin links in iLearn.
  • Participatory tasks include four quizzes on unit readings which must be completed, and an online Workshop Activity (See schedule).  

Important: It is a requirement of this unit that all creative work handed in for workshops or as assignments is new, original work written for and during this unit. It must must engage with the unit topics and content. Work from a concurrent unit or previous units or studies must not be presented for workshops or assessments. Creative writing written prior to the unit commencing cannot be presented either. 

Late submission of Assignments

Please note that the University and the Faculty of Arts have launched a new assessment policy effective as of 1 July 2021. This new policy particularly affects  LATE SUBMISSION OF ASSIGNMENTS . 

The Faculty policy in relation to late assessment submissions is as follows: 

Unless a Special Consideration request has been submitted and approved, (a) a penalty for lateness will apply – 10 marks out of 100 credit will be deducted per day for assignments submitted after the due date – and (b) no assignment will be accepted seven days (incl. weekends) after the original submission deadline. No late submissions will be accepted for timed assessments – e.g. quizzes, online tests, etc. 

To be very clear:

  • Unless you have applied for special consideration and had your application approved, for each day your assignment is late, 10 marks will be deducted. For example, if you submit your assignment 7 days late, 70 marks will be deducted, which means you will fail that assignment.
  • If your assignment is more than 7 days late (including weekends), you will get 0 for your assignment.

These are serious penalties that will substantially alter your final grade and even determine whether you pass or fail this unit. Please make every effort to submit your assignment by the due date.

If you find you cannot submit your assignment on time, please apply for Special Consideration through AskMQ. Make sure you read Macquarie University's policy regarding Special Consideration requests before you apply:

Requirements for Presentation of Assignments

  • Proof-read your assignment before submitting it, preferably by printing it out and reading it on the page.
  • Use double or 1.5 spacing, single spacing is not permitted.
  • Use 12 point font and leave sufficient side margins (the standard 2.54 cm is fine).
  • Left justification
  • No fancy fonts – use only Times, Arial, Cambria, Verdana or other plain font.
  • Insert page numbering and the word count at the end of the creative work and the reflective essay.
  • Marks are deducted for failure to comply with these presentation requirements.

Assessment Tasks

Online discussions and participation.

Assessment Type 1 : Participatory task Indicative Time on Task 2 : 35 hours Due: Ongoing Weighting: 25%

- Read assigned readings in preparation for online discussions each week. - Read class peers’ submitted creative writing and provide written feedback in online workshop discussion forums.

  • Achieve creative writing and reading skills in relation to concepts, topics, craft, technique and voice
  • Evaluate creative writing processes
  • Identify, engage with and apply concepts of narrative form and poetry
  • Analyse and discuss the work of others in group discussions

Creative Work (Minor)

Assessment Type 1 : Creative work Indicative Time on Task 2 : 24 hours Due: 12/09/2021 Weighting: 25%

Creative writing: narrative prose or poetry. Scaffolded task.

Creative Work and a Reflective Essay

Assessment Type 1 : Creative work Indicative Time on Task 2 : 35 hours Due: 31/10/2021 Weighting: 50%

Creative writing consisting of prose, or poetry, and a reflective essay

1 If you need help with your assignment, please contact:

  • the academic teaching staff in your unit for guidance in understanding or completing this type of assessment
  • the Writing Centre for academic skills support.

2 Indicative time-on-task is an estimate of the time required for completion of the assessment task and is subject to individual variation

Delivery and Resources

The unit is delivered using asynchronous online delivery within a weekly schedule. Lectures and tutorial discussions begin in Week 1.

Lectures are pre-recorded and available in Echo via the unit iLearn website.

Tutorial discussions are conducted using online forums.

All prescribed readings and a number of the recommended texts are available online from the library, via the Leganto link in iLearn.

The Participatory task includes periodic quizzes on the readings, and an online Workshop Activity during Week 9.

Unit Schedule

Week 1 - Introduction to Creative Writing

Week 2 - Prompt to draft: process and reflection

Week 3 - Approaches to writing 1

Week 4 - Approaches to writing 2

Week 5 - Story and narrative

Week 6 - Time in narrative

Week 7 - Focalisation

Week 8 - Language - dialogue and register

Week 9 - Workshop week

Week 10 - Writing place, writing culture

Week 11 - Memory

Week 12 - Creativity and Writing, reflecting on the unit.

Policies and Procedures

Macquarie University policies and procedures are accessible from Policy Central  ( ). Students should be aware of the following policies in particular with regard to Learning and Teaching:

  • Academic Appeals Policy
  • Academic Integrity Policy
  • Academic Progression Policy
  • Assessment Policy
  • Fitness to Practice Procedure
  • Grade Appeal Policy
  • Complaint Management Procedure for Students and Members of the Public
  • Special Consideration Policy

Students seeking more policy resources can visit Student Policies  ( ). It is your one-stop-shop for the key policies you need to know about throughout your undergraduate student journey.

To find other policies relating to Teaching and Learning, visit Policy Central  ( ) and use the search tool .

Student Code of Conduct

Macquarie University students have a responsibility to be familiar with the Student Code of Conduct:

Results published on platform other than eStudent , (eg. iLearn, Coursera etc.) or released directly by your Unit Convenor, are not confirmed as they are subject to final approval by the University. Once approved, final results will be sent to your student email address and will be made available in eStudent . For more information visit or if you are a Global MBA student contact [email protected]

Student Support

Macquarie University provides a range of support services for students. For details, visit

Learning Skills

Learning Skills ( ) provides academic writing resources and study strategies to help you improve your marks and take control of your study.

  • Getting help with your assignment
  • Academic Integrity Module

The Library provides online and face to face support to help you find and use relevant information resources. 

  • Subject and Research Guides
  • Ask a Librarian

Student Services and Support

Students with a disability are encouraged to contact the Disability Service  who can provide appropriate help with any issues that arise during their studies.

Student Enquiries

For all student enquiries, visit Student Connect at

If you are a Global MBA student contact  [email protected]

For help with University computer systems and technology, visit . 

When using the University's IT, you must adhere to the Acceptable Use of IT Resources Policy . The policy applies to all who connect to the MQ network including students.

Unit information based on version 2021.01 of the Handbook

introduction to creative writing activities

FAE Program

Bilkent university faculty academic english program, introduction to creative writing.

Drawing on students’ accumulated awareness of the elements of literary genres, ENG 312 aims to help students gain a deeper practical and theoretical understanding of their own values and practice as writers. Students explore and practice the elements and techniques of fiction, including description, character, dialog, plot, setting, narration, style, and theme, and develop their writing skills in English, with special emphasis on the descriptive and figurative capabilities of the language. Taught through a combination of short lecture, student-led discussion, workshops, and tutorials, the course encourages students to explore and develop a personal creative process, and guides them through overlapping stages of pre-writing, writing and revision to produce a submission-ready piece of short fiction. Students are assessed both on the effectiveness of their final product and on the quality of their ongoing engagement with its inspiration and development in creative dialogue with their with peers and instructor.

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