Writing can be difficult to teach. Just like the child who
writes, the teacher/parent who models needs to plan, organize, and compose a story in a
sequential manner. I have spent my teaching career studying the art of writing. It’s been a
wonderful learning experience but there’s more to discover and share!
Writing a fictional narrative is a favorite of mine. Experiencing and fostering a child’s
imagination excites me just as much as it excites the child. When I interact with my third
grade students during writing workshop, they continue to amaze me. They point out how
imagination is such an important factor in writing a fictional narrative. “Without it, makes
it difficult to write!” they tell me.
Below is a systematic plan to help and support the writing of a fictional narrative. Use it as
a guide to instruct second, third, and fourth grade writers. Depending on the child’s skill, it
can be modified. Also, refer to my article on Helpful Hints For A Beginning/Non-Writer.
As you follow the plan below, your child will develop into
a stronger and creative writer. Remember… you have to MODEL, MODEL, MODEL!
Note: You need to decide if your child requires more or less time on each step.
Additionally, it’s important to find a quiet place when your child begins to compose. Have a
dictionary and thesaurus nearby. Have plenty of pencils, paper, and IMAGINATION!
1) As a new school year begins, you need to build a foundation for writing a
fictional narrative. First, teach your child that every written story has a beginning, middle,
and end. Included in each story are the five main story elements: characters, setting- time and
place, characters’ problem, events, and a solution to the characters’ problem. Make sure your
child knows what each story element consists of as well as their importance within a story.
In the end, I lived happily ever after.
Next, show your child how to use imagination. This can be a difficult skill so read many books
and discuss how the author incorporates imagination. Stay on this step as long as you feel until
your child is ready for step two.
2) Next, you want to talk about the author’s choice of words. Point out the story
leads, verbs, adverbs, adjectives, sensory words, similes, and humor/suspense included in each
story you or your child reads. In addition, point out the vocabulary words you use in your
reading and vocabulary programs. Have your child create a list of the words on separate sheets
of paper, chart paper, or in a journal. Make sure your child labels each with a heading. You
want your child to apply these words in their future writing. We want children to discover that
the choice of words will help the reader and writer generate a mental image. Please define each
word and talk about the parts of speech! Children need to know what they mean and how they can
be used within a story.
3) After spending plenty of time on step one and step two, begin to write. At this
point, introduce a story checklist and story organizer. First, my students use a story
checklist, which helps them brainstorm ideas for each story element. Then, those ideas are
recorded on a story organizer. Furthermore, they have an organizer to list the verbs, adverbs,
adjectives, sensory words, similes, and humor/suspense they want to include. Once the organizer
is complete, students use it as a tool to write their story. Remember… MODEL, MODEL, MODEL!
4) Start with the story’s beginning. It is short and should “hook” your reader to
read on. Begin with a story lead, introduce your characters, setting- time and place,
characters’ problem and feeling. Below is an example!
At the stroke of midnight, I
heard an eerie scream
as I scurried down a long narrow
path behind my
neighbor’s home. I turned around and
upon a dark shadow following me. I was so
terrified that my legs began to tremble!
After you’ve modeled a few beginnings, it’s time for your child to write. Make sure your child
composes a few beginnings. Read them together to ensure they make sense.
5) When you have spent time on the beginning, you need to show your child how to
write the story’s middle. The middle is the longest and it’s where the action begins. It
includes three or more events and has many DETAILS. Please be aware that children have
difficulty with this part of the story!
When you begin to write the middle, break it down into three separate events. As you write each
event, include the following ideas:
Event 1- Where the characters go, what the characters do, what the characters think or say,
continue the characters’ problem, and add verbs to show action.
Event 2- Where the characters go, what the characters see, continue the characters’ problem,
add a character’s feeling, include a simile, and incorporate adverbs and adjectives to paint a
Event 3- Where the characters go, how the characters act, continue the characters’ problem, add
humor or suspense, and include sensory words/details that can be seen, heard, smelled, felt, or
DON’T FORGET ABOUT DETAILS…DETAILS…DETAILS!
As you write the middle, include sequence words/phrases such as first, next, then, after,
meanwhile, however, later, just then, minutes later, all of a sudden, after that, in the end, etc.
This keeps your story organized.
When you add dialogue in your story, make sure you incorporate an assortment of dialogue words.
Students usually utilize the word “said” when their characters speak. Other dialogue words to
use are mumbled, answered, cried, asked, replied, thought, exclaimed, laughed, wondered,
whispered, shouted, stated, screamed, etc.
Bear in mind that each event DOES NOT have to be followed as I suggested. Children can and
should use their own ideas as they write. Again, you have to MODEL, MODEL, MODEL!
When your child has a good grasp of the middle, it’s his/her turn to write. Use one of the
beginnings your child wrote previously and have him/her continue writing the story. During this
time, your child may need your support!
6) Now it’s time to write the story’s end. Again, this is short. You have to solve
the characters’ problem. Make sure you model a strong ending. Here are a few ending statements
I will not let my students write.
In the end, I went home and went to bed.
In the end, I woke up and it was only a dream.
In the end, I went home and ate.
Below is an example of a strong ending I would like to see in a child’s story.
Talk about the following:
As I darted home and slammed the door behind me, I thought about the dark shadow that
followed me. “Was it my imagination or a strange being from another world?” I thought to myself.
I was safe now so I cuddled in my favorite chair to read… until there was a BANG on the
7) When you or your child has completed a story, sit down and read it together.
Does the story have a beginning, middle, and end?
Did you include every story element?
Did you include verbs, adverbs, adjectives, sensory words, similes, and humor/suspense to make
your story more exciting?
When you read your story, does it make sense and is it fluent?
Is your story clear and in order?
I hope this was helpful when teaching your child to write. Please send me an email at
email@example.com to tell me what you think.