The excitement of being reunited with mates. The nervous anticipation of encountering new people in new surroundings. The fresh feeling of wearing a new uniform, armed with crisp stationary filled with promise. The tingle of prickly fears - will the work be trickier? What will my new teachers be like? Where will I sit in my new form room? One thing’s for sure, a new school year heralds a host of huge emotions, making it the ideal subject for creative writing activities, which is why our latest Get Creative feature (you can read the others here) is all about writing stories set in schools. So, without further ado, it’s time to crack open that new exercise book, unzip that new pencil case, put pen to paper, and get creative!
1. Starting out
As we covered in a recent Get Creative article, story titles and opening lines are great spring boards for story ideas. As for how to use them, simply ask questions about a title or opening line and, hey presto! - you’ll start to see a story take shape before your very eyes. Here’s an example to get you going:
Help! My Head Teacher’s an Owl
This title sounds like it could be a funny story, or maybe even a spooky one. Think about how and why your headteacher is an owl. Did you see them turn into an owl? Are they always an owl, or do they transform into one in particular circumstances? What happens when they’re an owl? How do they behave as an owl? Do they know they’re an owl? Does anything funny or strange happen when they’re an owl? (this is the plot of your story - what happens during your owlish adventure). Simply let your imagination take flight, much like your headteacher does down the school corridors.
Once you’ve written your Help! My Head Teacher’s an Owl short story, here are some other titles to spark ideas:
Magical Miss Moon
The Super Hero Dinner Lady
The Day Aliens Took Over Assembly
School Play Pandemonium
2. Awesome endings
We recently covered ways to use story endings to spark ideas, showing how to “go back to the future” through asking questions about the ending of a story, a bit like a detective trying to solve a tricky case. Here are some story endings with a school theme:
Miss Buttercup addressed her class, beaming broadly, but looking a little bedraggled. “I can’t thank you enough. You just saved the entire school from certain destruction at the hands of those bad guys.”
“So, it wasn’t a ghost at all!” cried Billy to his mates. “It was the PE teacher in disguise.”
“I’m proud to announce that we won the International School Award for Being Awesome to the Environment!” the headmistress revealed. “Congratulations for all your work on our ecological project.”
3. Pick ‘n’ Mix (otherwise known as build your own blockbuster)
Select one thing from each of the following categories and use them to build your own school-themed story:
Pick a genre
Genre is just a fancy way of describing what kind of story it is, like the types of stories listed below. It’s also a way of describing the atmosphere of a story - funny, scary, silly or exciting, for example. Pick one of the following genres to get your story going:
Pick a main character
Simona Sunbeam, a student who loves sports and science.
Madame Feline-Flop, a fun French teacher who used to be an Olympic gymnast.
Mr Greenwood, the school caretaker who keeps his pet snake in a shed in the playground.
Carlos Jenko, a pupil who loves football and looking out for his mates.
Pick an enemy
Gavin Snodkin, a pupil who loves spoiling people’s fun.
Heather Hootmass, the school bus driver who can’t stand noise.
Trudy Trumpet, a pupil who likes showing off.
Angel Devilla, a sneaky pupil who likes playing tricks.
Pick a place
Dinosaur museum, visited on a school trip
Made your choices? On your marks…get set…go write that story!
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 LoveReading.