In my experience, students either love story writing or hate it. They either have ideas floating around in their heads, waiting for the next story writing unit–or they feel that they have no ideas and hope for a stomach bug that week! This is one reason I use the Directed Writing Approach in my books–so that each step of each type of paper is laid out incrementally.


One common problem that students have when story writing is telling “first this happened; then this happened; after this, that happened; later on, this happened” by students. What could be an exciting, action-packed story becomes a narrative/retelling–or worse yet, an essay. Have you ever wondered how to help students from the start with this rambling problem?


Well, I have a lot of ideas for story writing


  • Naming/titling each scene or paragraph from the beginning so that the student knows ahead of time what they want to include;
  • Having students list the primary goal right off the bat so that the entire time they are writing, they are heading towards that goal;
  • Laying out believable obstacles that must be conquered or succumbed to or overcome;
  • Teaching being, helping, and linking verbs in a systematic way so that students can avoid using them and use action-driven verbs instead;
  • Teaching quotation and dialogue writing incrementally throughout the school year so that the student’s dialogue sings;
  • And much more


(These elements are included incrementally in my creative writing books. Check out their full-length sample lessons here: MC 5 II, MC 7 II, MC 9 II as well as in many of the Write On books!)


But the first way that I ensure that students do not have a list of events strung together in their stories actually starts with the lesson itself: The characters, setting, obstacles, goals, and dialogue expectations MUST match the assigned length of the story.


The reason kids string together events one sentence after another in their “story writing” is because they were often not taught to NARROW, NARROW, NARROW according to how much space/time they have.


Click or tap to download lesson!


Follow along with this story writing video (and free downloadable lesson) that contains a TWO PARAGRAPH story to see how this is done. (Yes, two paragraph stories are harder to write than longer ones!)




Let me know what you think! Happy writing—and teaching!


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