How to Encourage Young Writers

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALately I’ve been receiving a lot of messages from parents and teachers who have kids or know kids who love to write.

Other enquiries I get are from people who know kids who have great ideas for stories, but don’t know how to get them down on paper.

Here are some things that have worked for me:

1.  Read with the young writer and pick a character, a scene or a setting from what you are reading – something they would like to write about – and get them to write it.

2.  Look at this blog post by Susan Stephenson, which has various ideas on how to get a story started

3.   Brainstorm with your young writer. I used to do this with my kids. We’d pick a word for instance, chocolate, and I’d make up a story about chocolate and they’d either continue with my story or they’d think up an idea of your own. To encourage them I’d ask questions like “What if… this happened?” and “What happens next?” and “How did that happen? Why did that happen? Who did that happen to?”

4.  If the idea of a whole story is overwhelming, take it in stages:

– Decide who the character is

– Decide what the character’s story problem is

– Decide how the character plans to solve it

– Decide what obstacles will get in the way.

5.  Encourage the writer to create a story based on a favourite character from a book, movie or tv program – encourage him or her to try to imagine what it would be like to be that character.

6.  Don’t put limitations on the length of the story. If the child wants to write a 30 word story, that’s okay. If they want to write 300 or 3,000 words, that’s okay The only word count limitations they should have to follow are if they are submitting for a competition or publication and a word limit is specified in the guidelines.

IMG_12007. Always use encouraging language and don’t push the writer to do more than they are comfortable with.  If you have constructive suggestions on how they can improve their story, always focus on the good things about it first, and be encouraging with your suggestions. Always use positive language.

8.  Don’t take over. If the story isn’t the way you would have written it, don’t interfere. The child needs to follow their own creative direction. You will stifle their creativity, dampen their enthusiasm and wreck their confidence if you try to take over their story.

9. If the writer isn’t great at spelling, don’t let this be a deterrent. They can still be a good writer, they just need an editor to help them. Getting the child to dictate the story to you or to type it themselves, will encourage their storytelling and develop their confidence and stop them from worrying so much about the spelling. This is definitely an area you want to help them improve, but try and keep it separate from their story writing. Jackie French is the Australia National Children’s Laureate for 2014 and 2015. She’s the author of over 100 wonderful books, and she also has dyslexia. She is living proof that one of the most important qualities you need to be a writer is to be a storyteller.

10.  Endings are hard and many young writers don’t complete their stories before moving on to the next one – this is perfectly normal. Have realistic expectations. Writing endings is one of the hardest parts of creating a story. It’s something that writers often find difficult into their teens and even adulthood.  Particularly when writers are young, they are exploring where the story is going rather than planning it so it might not have an ending – and it doesn’t matter. I started writing novels when I was about nine.  There were boxes full of my half finished stories at my parents’ house. They were experiments – me learning to be a writer.  Allow your young writer to explore their creativity without pressure. There is no right or wrong way to be a writer.

If you have keen writers in your house or at your school, look for ways to help them get published – through school blogs or newsletters, or holding a writing competition at school. Find out more about hosting a writing competition here.  If your school wants to run a writing competition, I’m happy to donate prizes.

I also run online writing classes for kids who love to write. Lesson plans that you can use in your classroom are available here.

I hope you found these tips helpful. If you have any additional tips, please feel free to share them in the comments section of this post.

Happy writing:)




Sorry,  but there are no tips this week.

I have been busy  launching a new writing venture that I’m very excited about.

As well as writing for kids and teens I also love mentoring young writers.

I run weekly and school holiday writing programs for kids and they’re so much fun. But unfortunately, I get heaps of enquiries from people interstate and all over Victoria who can’t make it to the classes.

So now I’ve set up a place where writers from  8 to adult can do free and affordable classes and activities online.

Writing Classes For Kids will focus mostly on helping young writers but new and emerging adult writers will also find the teen tips and lessons helpful. I plan on making them a mixture of theoretical and practical tips like the ones I post here at my DeeScribe Writing Blog.

Here’s what will be happening at  Writing Classes For Kids :

  1. Free Writing activities
  2. Free basic lesson plans
  3. Free Writing tips
  4. Detailed lesson plans to be used at home or in the classroom – can be downloaded for $5 As well as writing activities these will include extension and reflection activities
  5. Free Competitions where you can win free books and writing services
  6. An online assessment service offered
  7. E-books to come
  8. Lots of visits from published authors who will be sharing tips too
  9. Lots of great ideas for your own author visits to schools and festivals

Some topics to watch for include:

Teen to Adult

  1. Heroes & Villains part one – Create great Characters
  2. Heroes & Villains part two – Create a story for your Hero & Villain

Writers 8-12

  1. Writing For Fun – Picture This
  2. Writing For Fun – Pets & Animals
  3. Writing For Fun – Old Character, New Story

Future Lesson Plans

Lesson plans on the blog will be updated regularly. Here’s a sneak peak at some of the topics to be added as we go:

  • Mindmapping
  • Plotting
  • Writing Anthology Pieces
  • Grammar & Tense
  • Essay Writing
  • Story Pyramids
  • Character Collages
  • Setting
  • Dialogue
  • Non fiction beginnings
  • Fiction beginnings

If you’d like to see a lesson plan developed on a particular topic for a particular age group, please feel free to email me at:


If you’re a published author who’d like to be profiled to our worldwide readership, you can also contact me at the above address.

So if you’ve got kids who love writing or you think you might enjoy the activities and tips I’d love you to visit my new blog Writing Classes For Kids.

I will continue to provide my Tuesday Tips at this blog. If you have any ideas of session plans you’d like to see or things you or the young writers in your house would like to know, feel free to comment in this post.

Happy writing:)