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Teaching Kids to Write a Good Story (And Get Published!)

Updated: 7 hours ago

I've worked with students of all different learning abilities, and have helped them write their stories and get them published on Amazon! In this article, I'm going to share my tips and tricks for helping them write great stories.

Coming up with a great story

Instead of the three primary colors, I like to call it the Three Primary Parts to a Great Story. The first step is to come up with the people, or the characters, needed for the story. This needs to be a character that the student is really excited about and that character needs to have a lot of personality. Encourage your student to think about that character's strengths and weaknesses. What makes the character relatable?

After your student has come up with the main character (or characters), they can then start to think about the problem. A great story will have some kind of conflict or overarching problem that the character needs to overcome. For example, in Joe Gets Lost, the conflict is right there in the title - the crab gets lost.

Once the conflict is decided, the next step is to come up with a plot. You might remember learning about a story arc when you were in school. I've tried using a story arc with my students but I found that it doesn't work. What I've found works the best is a story map. To create a story map, the students will draw a road with a happy side and a sad side. The story can start on either the happy or the sad side. The path can venture on to the different sides of the road as the character becomes angry, worried, excited, nervous, or any other combination of emotions. The end of the story will be either on the happy or the sad side, and will be marked by a star.

Above is a story map of a student that I worked with. It was so fun watching her develop her story as she considered the different events in the story and how it would affect her character's emotions. Now, she can go back and follow the map as she writes her story. It might change as she goes, but having the map makes it less overwhelming to start writing.

Starting to Write

Once your child has come up with a really great story, the next step is to start writing! Starting the writing process can be intimidating. You can simplify the process by breaking it down to two options - Start with dialogue or narration. To start with dialogue, your student will write about something a character says. For example, "Mom, Dad, where are you?" the little crab says.

To start with narration, the student will describe a scene - the setting and/or the characters. For example, "A crab wakes up in his home with his family." I've found that when given those two choices, most students prefer to start with narration.

The Writing Process

Once the story starts to develop, you'll still need to coach your student to help them create a full, robust story. While they use their story map to write each scene, you can remind them that the story needs to be written in their voice. They are the author of the story, so the story should really reflect their style and thoughts.

From there, the story will need details to make it feel robust. However, the phrase "Add details" has never gotten me anywhere with students! You can be more specific by mentioning specifically which of these areas needs to be addressed:

  1. Sound: We want to hear what's going on in the story. Add dialogue!

  2. Setting: We want to be able to smell and visualize the place.

  3. Action / Internal Thoughts: What does the character feel like? What is the character thinking?

And remember, each of these 3 things needs to come from the writer, in their voice, and in their writing.

In Conclusion

I hope this helped you in your student's journey to writing a great story! If you have any questions, send me an email at You can also follow my YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook pages for updates, and join my mailing list for upcoming events and workshops!

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