- Write a letter using exactly 50/100/72 words (can get the students to say the number before they know what the task is).
- Choose ten random words from a dictionary. Write an opening paragraph for a story including all the chosen words.
- Slow writing (I’m indebted to David Didau for this – see The Secret of Literacy). Tell students what to put in each sentence, e.g., first sentence must be four words, second sentence include the word ‘callous’, fourth sentence start with an adjective, fifth sentence include a metaphor. This is particularly good for sentence lengths: tell them how long each sentence must be. First sentence, four words, second sentence, fifteen words, etc. (This second one I got from Phil Beadle). You can also get students to set the criteria for each sentence, e.g., Elias might suggest that the third sentence must end with the word ‘bum’.
- Describe walking around a spooky house without using the words ‘and’, ‘but’, ‘so’ or ‘then’.
- Write a conversation between two friends after a terrible day at school without using the word ‘said’.
- Describe what you would do if you were given three wishes. Each sentence should start with the same letter but a different word.
- Describe landing on a desert island. Each sentence should start with a different letter of the alphabet. For example, ‘A golden beach lay all around. Birds flew high above my head. Coconuts littered the ground beneath the line of swaying trees…’
- Write a paragraph of a persuasive speech, pass to the person next to you. They continue for a paragraph. Then pass on again. Keep going for as long as required.
- Show pictures on a ppt for five minutes. Describe each one in five senses. Each sentence must be a different sense, e.g., ‘The wood was dark. It was silent. I felt the rough bark of the oak next to me.’ Keep strictly to the five-minute rule for each picture.
- Create sentences word by word, in this order: ARTICLE / ADJECTIVE / ADJECTIVE / NOUN / VERB (PAST TENSE) / ADVERB / PREPOSITION / LOCATION. Students write one word on a piece of paper, fold the paper over, pass it on, and repeat. Thus you can get sentences like: An abominable clear table jumped stupidly under London. I think I may also have read this in a Phil Beadle book (How to Teach Literacy).
The other way to vary creative writing is simply to vary the type of text. Here is a list of different text types they could do:
Agony Aunt letter/response
Recipe/how to put together furniture/instructions