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Five flash fiction activities to inspire writing for pleasure

All of us here at are passionate about nurturing reading for pleasure from an early age. (By the way, if any kids are reading this, feel free to skip straight to the “Boredom-busting Five-minute Frenzies” section below!) Along with enhancing creativity and empathy, improving concentration and social skills, and providing entertainment, reading for pleasure is also an excellent springboard for encouraging kids to write for pleasure too, which in turn is an excellent way to further develop those skills. But let’s not lose sight of the main focus here - namely, writing for pleasure. 

That said, one of the biggest obstacles to writing (for pleasure, or otherwise!) is thinking-up ideas. But fear not - writing flash fiction (by which we mean writing very short stories at speed) is a great way to overcome any “I-don’t-know-what-to-write” woes. So, without further ado, here are five fun activities to banish blank-page-blues in budding writers.

Boredom-busting Five-minute Frenzies

These super-speedy writing games are sure to banish boredom in a flash! Using just three words as a starting point, and with only five minutes to write, stories will form faster than a falcon in flight (and since peregrine falcons are the speediest animals in the world, that’s pretty darn fast!). Once your five minutes are up, you can always spend extra time perfecting your pieces.

You will need:

- Paper and pencil/pen, or laptop

- Something to time yourself with, like a smartphone stopwatch, or an alarm clock

- Oodles of imagination

Ready? On your marks. Get set…WRITE!

Random Writing Race

Ask your friend/brother/sister/mum/dad to give you three random words. Write them down, set a timer for five minutes, then write a story using the three words to inspire you.

Silly sample: my words are alien, teacher and moon. I write a super-short story about an alien who appears in my school during the full moon and shocks my teacher with their amazing maths skills.

TOP TIP: to add to the fun (and frenzy), you could give your friend/ brother/ sister/ mum/ dad three random words at the same time and write alongside each other. In fact, the same goes for all these activities - writing doesn’t have to be done alone!

Funny Fiction Frenzy

Write down the last thing you ate, what you want to be when you grow up, and an item of clothing you would NEVER wear. Now set the timer and write a super-silly story that features your three words. 

Amusing example: my words are banana, explorer and a tie. I write a super-silly story about an explorer who’s lost in a jungle with only bananas to eat. The explorer escapes the jungle when they remove their tie and use it to swing across a whooshing waterfall.

Animal Antics Sprint

Write down your favourite animal, an animal that scuttles, and an animal that lives in the rainforest. Now set the timer and write a super-short story about what happens when the three animals meet each other.

TOP TIP: think about why the three animals meet (what happens to bring them together?), where they meet, and how they interact (for example, are they friendly, ferocious, nervous, or maybe a mix of all three?)

Face Your Fears Frenzy

Write down a living thing that scares you (for some people that might be snakes, spiders, clowns or sharks). Now write down a non-living thing you’re scared of (for example, some people are scared of ghosts, storms and the dark). Next, write down the scariest place you can think of (how about a creepy castle, fearsome forest or spooky shipwreck?). Now set your timer and use your three fearsome words to create a truly terrifying tale!

Hurried Superhero History

Pick a place from the past (how about Ancient Egypt, Stone Age Britain or Victorian London?). Next, pick a superhero’s superpower (some examples include flying, invisibility and X-ray vision). Lastly, pick a natural disaster (like an epic earthquake, violent volcano or terrifying tornado). Now set the timer and write about someone who time travels to your place from the past and uses their super power to stop the natural disaster.

Joanne Owen is a writer and publishing professional with over twenty years’ experience of the book industry, and the author of a how-to children’s guide to creative writing, You Can Write Awesome Stories. Alongside writing and reviewing books, she hosts writing workshops and is an Editorial Expert for Love Reading.

Read the next episode in Joanne's series: Get Creative - 3 steps to transforming awesome objects into sensational stories.

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