Creative writing is a lot like cooking. If you mix the right ingredients together, you will usually end up with something good. Of course, sometimes the cake flops and the story dies. When this happens, the cook and the writer must try again. Practice does make perfect — for cakes and stories.

Here is a recipe for a good piece of short fiction. Remember, fiction is fantasy, something you make up. Non-fiction is fact — a true story.


  • Title
  • Characters
  • Setting
  • Plot
  • Conflict
  • Plenty of Description
  • A dash of imagination
  • Proper grammar
  • Correct spelling
  • Perfect punctuation

Mix all the above ingredients together until they work. Let raw story rest overnight. Then proofread, correct and serve to the nearest reader.

Here are some hints for cooking up delicious stories every time.

  1. Spend some time thinking about what you want to write before you begin writing.
  2. If you can’t think of a title at first, just write down something simple that is related to your story. You can always go back and write a better title after you’ve written  your story. And keep in mind that after you sell  your story, an editor may change your title. So don’t get too attached to the title you’ve chosen.
  3. Try to make your characters likable. We all enjoy reading about nice people. Even villains can have good qualities.
  4. Plot is what happens in your story. Robert Newton Peck, one of my favorite writers of children’s books, describes plot this way: “Two dogs and one bone.”
  5. Put plenty of description into your story. Let the reader see what you see and your story will come alive.
  6. Of course you want to use proper grammar, spelling and punctuation in your story, but don’t let these important parts of writing keep you from getting started. Get your ideas down on paper first. Then you can go back and correct your grammatical and spelling errors.
  7. Write about what you know. Most successful writers write about what they know. Your are the only person who knows with the world looks like through your eyes. Use your unique point of view when you’re writing.
  8. Use lively verbs. Verbs are the action words in your story. They help to move your story along. Use verbs like glistened, glowed, zoomed, zipped, smacked and dashed.
  9. Don’t forget to use your imagination. Your teacher can show you how to use proper grammar, spelling and punctuation. She can even give you ideas on what to write about. But it is up to you to put imagination into your writing. Imagination is what makes your story different from mine.
  10. Practice, practice, practice and read, read, read. Almost all great writers were great readers first. And most of them wrote for years and years before they became great writers. Go to the library and read what other writers have already written, then go home and start practicing. You could be the next J.K. Rowling, Kate DiCamillo or Jeff Kinney.

Ideas For Writing Projects

  • Write about food. Create an entire class booklet filled with stories about eating, cooking and growing food. Write stories with food characters. For example, how about a story entitled, “The Three Blueberries?” Or “Snow Pea and the Seven Doughnuts.” “The IMG_1614Adventures of Hamburger and Griddle.” This class booklet could also include non-fiction stories about food experiments and cartoons and pictures of food.
  • Write about Outer space. each person in the class could write a story that tells what they think it would be like in outer space. Stories could be written about living in outer space. What would school be like? What would you look like if you woke up as an alien?
  • Write about rabbits. Everyone in the class could imagine turning into a rabbit. And these third grade rabbits would write about the changes in their classroom and at home. Of course the teacher could also be a rabbit. Students, I mean rabbits, would write about how the rest of the school reacted when they hopped into the school building as rabbits. Did everyone stare at them in the lunchroom? Did they try to steal everyone’s carrot sticks from their plates? Did the entire class insist on eating salads for lunch?


This article is based on a writing workshop I sometimes do in schools. For more information or to set up a school or other author visit, contact me.



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