The following is a post from contributing writer Dee.
I have many parents ask me for advice on how to encourage their children to write stories. Creative writing seems easy – just make up stuff!
Actually, it’s hard. To come up with a coherent story, no matter how short, a writer has to pull together characters, a setting, a plot, and maybe even a theme in a way that makes sense to a reader. It can seem overwhelming to a young or inexperienced writer when faced with a blank piece of paper or a blank computer screen.
One of my favorite tips for beginning creative writers is to teach them how to write fan fiction. Fan fiction are stories written about already existing characters or settings. They can be of any length and can go wherever the writer’s imagination wants them to go. The fan fiction world is vast, and many adults enjoy writing it as well as children and teens.
Fan fiction is excellent writing practice since the writer doesn’t have to come up with all of the elements they need. By picking an existing character or set of characters and/or the world they inhabit, some of the pressure is taken off of the writer.
Fan fiction can be written about any book, movie or television show. Have your child pick a favorite book and then prompt them to think about the characters experiencing a new adventure, going on a trip, meeting a new friend, or moving to a new house. The possibilities are endless. The goal is to encourage the child to get words down on paper and to feel like story-writing is a manageable endeavor.
There are many sites on the internet where people post their fan fiction to share. You have to be careful though, because some of the content is not appropriate for children, even with fan fiction written from children’s books.
Lastly, I mentioned above about possibly including a theme. Many books on writing seem to make this a requirement for a story. For a beginning writer, worrying about the message or theme of a story may add in too much pressure and take away the incentive to write. Theme development can come later once someone has mastered all of the other elements.
Dee Garretson writes adventure stories for 9-13 year olds. Her books, WILDFIRE RUN and WOLF STORM, are published by HarperCollins. You can visit her website to read more about them and to download free book club and readers’ guides.