Tuesday, August 28, 2012

10 Creative Writing Ideas for Teens

For the last few years I've taught a creative writing course for a home school co-op and I've had a great time. Unfortunately, I couldn't do it this year, so I sent a course syllabus to the co-op president to give to the students that were signed up. So, of course I had to share it with all of you as well.

If you have a teen who likes to write, or if you home school your children, or you just want to give your little writer some creative writing assignments, I have a 10-week mini course that will make writing fun for any kid between the ages of 10-17 (depending on level of maturity).

When your kid(s) finish with this course, I have a whole lotta more! In fact, I'm publishing a 36-week creative writing course for teens by early to mid 2013. So follow this blog for updates.

Writers: If you are a writer, and you'd like to contribute an "exercises" to the course, I'd love to hear from you. I think parents and teachers and the young writers of the world would love to receive writing tips from successful writers like you. So, if you leave a comment (i.e. writing exercise suggestion), be sure to include at least one writing credit, and I'll include your name/title in the course. NOTE: I will publish this, so you'll have to be okay with releasing your idea to Nexgate Press. But as I said, we will include your name/book title with the exercise.

Parents/Teachers: Feel free to copy and past. See instructions at the bottom of this post.

Creative Writing Exercises for Junior and Senior High Students.
By Jeff Bennington
Author of The Indie Author's Guide to the Universe.

Welcome to The Writing Bomb's Creative Writing Course for Junior & Senior High Students. 

Week 1. Write a short story (1-2 pages) from the perspective of your favorite animal: bird, dog, horse, skunk, etc. Let the animal in you describe what it is like living among humans, in the chicken coop, or in the dog house. What are your hopes and dreams? What are you looking for in a mate? How do you feel about rainy days, baths, and treats? What do you expect from your puppies, cubs, or kittens? Write a draft, have your parent grade it, and then rewrite/polish it.

Week 2. Write a documentary (1-2 pages) about the most exciting thing that happened somewhere in the world in the last week. Don't know what happened in the world? Type in a Google search of... "What happened in the world the week of Sept. 1, 2012?" - or whatever the date is. Again, write the paper, have a parent grade it, then polish it. This is something you will always have to do (edit, revise, and revise again).

Week 3. Write a persuasive paper (1-2 pages) in favor of anything you are passionate about. All persuasive papers need an Introduction that states the main point, introduces the content to come, and includes a thesis statement (a sentence declaring the point you are trying to make). 

The Body of the paper must include at least three additional paragraphs. Each paragraph must support one of three basic supporting ideas, and have at least three sentences to prove your point or support the idea in that paragraph. 

Finally, you'll need a summary paragraph that summarizes the points listed above, and re-emphasizes the thesis statement. All in all ,there must be five paragraphs, with no less than three sentences in each paragraph. Seniors should have more content… especially since they will have to write a paper like this on the SAT in 30 minutes. PARENTS: This may be tough for junior highers and freshman but it is a good introduction nonetheless. Be patient with the younger ones.

Week 4. Write a descriptive paper (1full page) that describes your dream car, another one that describes your dream house (1full page), and another that describes the dream job (1 full page) that you will have to support those dreams (be realistic here… do not say you will be an ultra-rich rock star, unless you are working toward that today).

Week 5. Write a Poem (1full page) that describes the fall season and the beauty of the leaves turning and falling to someone who has never seen fall colors in the trees. Do not take anything for granted! Include colors, smells, sounds, feel, etc. Write another poem (1full page) about the joys of fall: sitting around the fire, camping, raking and playing in the leaves, carving pumpkins, trick-or-treating, etc.

Week 6. Write a short story (2 pages) about a family sitting around the dinner table talking, or sitting around a camp fire. Include conflict, different personalities, different ways of speaking (dialog) that is unique to each character. Be sure to resolve any conflicts that you start. Be creative, but be realistic. This is not a science fiction or fantasy assignment - that comes next.

Week 7Write a full-on short story in the genre of your choice: Science fiction, Fantasy, Horror, Inspiration, Action Adventure, Romance. This is your choice. Write the story that you'd like to read. BUT, keep it short. If you are a junior higher, write a three page story. If you are a junior or senior, make this a 5- 6-page short story. Be creative. The sky's the limit. You have two (2) weeks. Use the first week to write a rough draft and then turn it in to your parent(s)/teacher. Let them read it and suggest changes, correct spelling, etc. Then go back and revise. 

Week 8. Your short story is due by the end of week 8.

Week 9. Write a descriptive paper (1-2 pages) about what it would be like to be a real hero. If you were a hero, what would your super power be? How would you use it? Who would benefit from that gift? Where could you live so that you could save the most people? What does it take for you to remain strong? What would you look like? Are you from another planet? Did grow up underground, or in another realm? And finally, what is the one thing that causes you to become powerless?

Week 10. Write your own autobiography… starting from when you are young, going forward through your life, including college, career, victories, failures, marriage, children, family, occupation, illnesses, and ultimately (and I know this is morbid) your death and funeral. This is a perfect opportunity for you to explore your dreams and hopes for the future, and for your parents to get to know you better.

Parents and teachers: Pay attention to what your kids/students write. I have read a few papers over the years where a child has revealed critical "secrets". Listen to their words; they could be telling you something. 

PLEASE SHARE this post with anyone you think might be interested.

Directions: All papers should be assigned early in the week and due by Friday unless otherwise noted. These papers can be hand written, single spaced (large cursive writers can add an extra half page), or typed as double spaced, 12-point font). Students should always write a rough draft and have a parent grade it mid-week with the final revision due on the last day of the week. Parents, should focus on spelling, grammar, structure, and less on content, relative to the child's age. I wouldn't look at these assignments as critical to a student's progress, unless they are at the junior/senior level. In general, these are simply creative exercises and tools for teaching basic writing and communicative skills. Have fun!

Jeff Bennington  is the best-selling author of Reunion, Twisted Vengeance, and The Indie Author's Guide to the Universe.