• Writing Activities

105 Creative Writing Exercises To Get You Writing Again

You know that feeling when you just don’t feel like writing? Sometimes you can’t even get a word down on paper. It’s the most frustrating thing ever to a writer, especially when you’re working towards a deadline. The good news is that we have a list of 105 creative writing exercises to help you get motivated and start writing again!

What are creative writing exercises?

Creative writing exercises are short writing activities (normally around 10 minutes) designed to get you writing. The goal of these exercises is to give you the motivation to put words onto a blank paper. These words don’t need to be logical or meaningful, neither do they need to be grammatically correct or spelt correctly. The whole idea is to just get you writing something, anything. The end result of these quick creative writing exercises is normally a series of notes, bullet points or ramblings that you can, later on, use as inspiration for a bigger piece of writing such as a story or a poem. 

Good creative writing exercises are short, quick and easy to complete. You shouldn’t need to think too much about your style of writing or how imaginative your notes are. Just write anything that comes to mind, and you’ll be on the road to improving your creative writing skills and beating writer’s block . 

Use the generator below to get a random creative writing exercise idea:

List of 105+ Creative Writing Exercises

Here are over 105 creative writing exercises to give your brain a workout and help those creative juices flow again:

  • Set a timer for 60 seconds. Now write down as many words or phrases that come to mind at that moment.
  • Pick any colour you like. Now start your sentence with this colour. For example, Orange, the colour of my favourite top. 
  • Open a book or dictionary on a random page. Pick a random word. You can close your eyes and slowly move your finger across the page. Now, write a paragraph with this random word in it. You can even use an online dictionary to get random words:

dictionary-random-word-imagine-forest

  • Create your own alphabet picture book or list. It can be A to Z of animals, food, monsters or anything else you like!
  • Using only the sense of smell, describe where you are right now.
  • Take a snack break. While eating your snack write down the exact taste of that food. The goal of this creative writing exercise is to make your readers savour this food as well.
  • Pick a random object in your room and write a short paragraph from its point of view. For example, how does your pencil feel? What if your lamp had feelings?
  • Describe your dream house. Where would you live one day? Is it huge or tiny? 
  • Pick two different TV shows, movies or books that you like. Now swap the main character. What if Supergirl was in Twilight? What if SpongeBob SquarePants was in The Flash? Write a short scene using this character swap as inspiration.
  • What’s your favourite video game? Write at least 10 tips for playing this game.
  • Pick your favourite hobby or sport. Now pretend an alien has just landed on Earth and you need to teach it this hobby or sport. Write at least ten tips on how you would teach this alien.
  • Use a random image generator and write a paragraph about the first picture you see.

random image generator

  • Write a letter to your favourite celebrity or character. What inspires you most about them? Can you think of a memorable moment where this person’s life affected yours? We have this helpful guide on writing a letter to your best friend for extra inspiration.
  • Write down at least 10 benefits of writing. This can help motivate you and beat writer’s block.
  • Complete this sentence in 10 different ways: Patrick waited for the school bus and…
  • Pick up a random book from your bookshelf and go to page 9. Find the ninth sentence on that page. Use this sentence as a story starter.
  • Create a character profile based on all the traits that you hate. It might help to list down all the traits first and then work on describing the character.
  • What is the scariest or most dangerous situation you have ever been in? Why was this situation scary? How did you cope at that moment?
  • Pretend that you’re a chat show host and you’re interviewing your favourite celebrity. Write down the script for this conversation.
  • Using extreme detail, write down what you have been doing for the past one hour today. Think about your thoughts, feelings and actions during this time.
  • Make a list of potential character names for your next story. You can use a fantasy name generator to help you.
  • Describe a futuristic setting. What do you think the world would look like in 100 years time?
  • Think about a recent argument you had with someone. Would you change anything about it? How would you resolve an argument in the future?
  • Describe a fantasy world. What kind of creatures live in this world? What is the climate like? What everyday challenges would a typical citizen of this world face? You can use this fantasy world name generator for inspiration.
  • At the flip of a switch, you turn into a dragon. What kind of dragon would you be? Describe your appearance, special abilities, likes and dislikes. You can use a dragon name generator to give yourself a cool dragon name.
  • Pick your favourite book or a famous story. Now change the point of view. For example, you could rewrite the fairytale , Cinderella. This time around, Prince Charming could be the main character. What do you think Prince Charming was doing, while Cinderella was cleaning the floors and getting ready for the ball?
  • Pick a random writing prompt and use it to write a short story. Check out this collection of over 300 writing prompts for kids to inspire you. 
  • Write a shopping list for a famous character in history. Imagine if you were Albert Einstein’s assistant, what kind of things would he shop for on a weekly basis?
  • Create a fake advertisement poster for a random object that is near you right now. Your goal is to convince the reader to buy this object from you.
  • What is the worst (or most annoying) sound that you can imagine? Describe this sound in great detail, so your reader can understand the pain you feel when hearing this sound.
  • What is your favourite song at the moment? Pick one line from this song and describe a moment in your life that relates to this line.
  •  You’re hosting an imaginary dinner party at your house. Create a list of people you would invite, and some party invites. Think about the theme of the dinner party, the food you will serve and entertainment for the evening. 
  • You are waiting to see your dentist in the waiting room. Write down every thought you are having at this moment in time. 
  • Make a list of your greatest fears. Try to think of at least three fears. Now write a short story about a character who is forced to confront one of these fears. 
  • Create a ‘Wanted’ poster for a famous villain of your choice. Think about the crimes they have committed, and the reward you will give for having them caught. 
  • Imagine you are a journalist for the ‘Imagine Forest Times’ newspaper. Your task is to get an exclusive interview with the most famous villain of all time. Pick a villain of your choice and interview them for your newspaper article. What questions would you ask them, and what would their responses be?
  •  In a school playground, you see the school bully hurting a new kid. Write three short stories, one from each perspective in this scenario (The bully, the witness and the kid getting bullied).
  • You just won $10 million dollars. What would you spend this money on?
  • Pick a random animal, and research at least five interesting facts about this animal. Write a short story centred around one of these interesting facts. 
  • Pick a global issue that you are passionate about. This could be climate change, black lives matters, women’s rights etc. Now create a campaign poster for this global issue. 
  • Write an acrostic poem about an object near you right now (or even your own name). You could use a poetry idea generator to inspire you.
  • Imagine you are the head chef of a 5-star restaurant. Recently the business has slowed down. Your task is to come up with a brand-new menu to excite customers. Watch this video prompt on YouTube to inspire you.
  • What is your favourite food of all time? Imagine if this piece of food was alive, what would it say to you?
  • If life was one big musical, what would you be singing about right now? Write the lyrics of your song. 
  • Create and describe the most ultimate villain of all time. What would their traits be? What would their past look like? Will they have any positive traits?
  • Complete this sentence in at least 10 different ways: Every time I look out of the window, I…
  • You have just made it into the local newspaper, but what for? Write down at least five potential newspaper headlines . Here’s an example, Local Boy Survives a Deadly Illness.
  • If you were a witch or a wizard, what would your specialist area be and why? You might want to use a Harry Potter name generator or a witch name generator for inspiration.
  • What is your favourite thing to do on a Saturday night? Write a short story centred around this activity. 
  • Your main character has just received the following items: A highlighter, a red cap, a teddy bear and a fork. What would your character do with these items? Can you write a story using these items? 
  • Create a timeline of your own life, from birth to this current moment. Think about the key events in your life, such as birthdays, graduations, weddings and so on. After you have done this, you can pick one key event from your life to write a story about. 
  • Think of a famous book or movie you like. Rewrite a scene from this book or movie, where the main character is an outsider. They watch the key events play out, but have no role in the story. What would their actions be? How would they react?
  • Three very different characters have just won the lottery. Write a script for each character, as they reveal the big news to their best friend.  
  • Write a day in the life story of three different characters. How does each character start their day? What do they do throughout the day? And how does their day end?
  •  Write about the worst experience in your life so far. Think about a time when you were most upset or angry and describe it. 
  • Imagine you’ve found a time machine in your house. What year would you travel to and why?
  • Describe your own superhero. Think about their appearance, special abilities and their superhero name. Will they have a secret identity? Who is their number one enemy?
  • What is your favourite country in the world? Research five fun facts about this country and use one to write a short story. 
  • Set yourself at least three writing goals. This could be a good way to motivate yourself to write every day. For example, one goal might be to write at least 150 words a day. 
  • Create a character description based on the one fact, three fiction rule. Think about one fact or truth about yourself. And then add in three fictional or fantasy elements. For example, your character could be the same age as you in real life, this is your one fact. And the three fictional elements could be they have the ability to fly, talk in over 100 different languages and have green skin. 
  • Describe the perfect person. What traits would they have? Think about their appearance, their interests and their dislikes. 
  • Keep a daily journal or diary. This is a great way to keep writing every day. There are lots of things you can write about in your journal, such as you can write about the ‘highs’ and ‘lows’ of your day. Think about anything that inspired you or anything that upset you, or just write anything that comes to mind at the moment. 
  • Write a book review or a movie review. If you’re lost for inspiration, just watch a random movie or read any book that you can find. Then write a critical review on it. Think about the best parts of the book/movie and the worst parts. How would you improve the book or movie?
  • Write down a conversation between yourself. You can imagine talking to your younger self or future self (i.e. in 10 years’ time). What would you tell them? Are there any lessons you learned or warnings you need to give? Maybe you could talk about what your life is like now and compare it to their life?
  • Try writing some quick flash fiction stories . Flash fiction is normally around 500 words long, so try to stay within this limit.
  • Write a six-word story about something that happened to you today or yesterday. A six-word story is basically an entire story told in just six words. Take for example: “Another football game ruined by me.” or “A dog’s painting sold for millions.” – Six-word stories are similar to writing newspaper headlines. The goal is to summarise your story in just six words. 
  • The most common monsters or creatures used in stories include vampires, werewolves , dragons, the bigfoot, sirens and the loch-ness monster. In a battle of intelligence, who do you think will win and why?
  • Think about an important event in your life that has happened so far, such as a birthday or the birth of a new sibling. Now using the 5 W’s and 1 H technique describe this event in great detail. The 5 W’s include: What, Who, Where, Why, When and the 1 H is: How. Ask yourself questions about the event, such as what exactly happened on that day? Who was there? Why was this event important? When and where did it happen? And finally, how did it make you feel?
  • Pretend to be someone else. Think about someone important in your life. Now put yourself into their shoes, and write a day in the life story about being them. What do you think they do on a daily basis? What situations would they encounter? How would they feel?
  • Complete this sentence in at least 10 different ways: I remember…
  • Write about your dream holiday. Where would you go? Who would you go with? And what kind of activities would you do?
  • Which one item in your house do you use the most? Is it the television, computer, mobile phone, the sofa or the microwave? Now write a story of how this item was invented. You might want to do some research online and use these ideas to build up your story. 
  • In exactly 100 words, describe your bedroom. Try not to go over or under this word limit.
  • Make a top ten list of your favourite animals. Based on this list create your own animal fact file, where you provide fun facts about each animal in your list.
  • What is your favourite scene from a book or a movie? Write down this scene. Now rewrite the scene in a different genre, such as horror, comedy, drama etc.
  •  Change the main character of a story you recently read into a villain. For example, you could take a popular fairytale such as Jack and the Beanstalk, but this time re-write the story to make Jack the villain of the tale.
  • Complete the following sentence in at least 10 different ways: Do you ever wonder…
  • What does your name mean? Research the meaning of your own name, or a name that interests you. Then use this as inspiration for your next story. For example, the name ‘Marty’ means “Servant Of Mars, God Of War”. This could make a good concept for a sci-fi story.
  • Make a list of three different types of heroes (or main characters) for potential future stories.
  • If someone gave you $10 dollars, what would you spend it on and why?
  • Describe the world’s most boring character in at least 100 words. 
  • What is the biggest problem in the world today, and how can you help fix this issue?
  • Create your own travel brochure for your hometown. Think about why tourists might want to visit your hometown. What is your town’s history? What kind of activities can you do? You could even research some interesting facts. 
  • Make a list of all your favourite moments or memories in your life. Now pick one to write a short story about.
  • Describe the scariest and ugliest monster you can imagine. You could even draw a picture of this monster with your description.
  • Write seven haikus, one for each colour of the rainbow. That’s red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. 
  • Imagine you are at the supermarket. Write down at least three funny scenarios that could happen to you at the supermarket. Use one for your next short story. 
  • Imagine your main character is at home staring at a photograph. Write the saddest scene possible. Your goal is to make your reader cry when reading this scene. 
  • What is happiness? In at least 150 words describe the feeling of happiness. You could use examples from your own life of when you felt happy.
  • Think of a recent nightmare you had and write down everything you can remember. Use this nightmare as inspiration for your next story.
  • Keep a dream journal. Every time you wake up in the middle of the night or early in the morning you can quickly jot down things that you remember from your dreams. These notes can then be used as inspiration for a short story. 
  • Your main character is having a really bad day. Describe this bad day and the series of events they experience. What’s the worst thing that could happen to your character?
  • You find a box on your doorstep. You open this box and see the most amazing thing ever. Describe this amazing thing to your readers.
  • Make a list of at least five possible settings or locations for future stories. Remember to describe each setting in detail.
  • Think of something new you recently learned. Write this down. Now write a short story where your main character also learns the same thing.
  • Describe the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen in your whole life. Your goal is to amaze your readers with its beauty. 
  • Make a list of things that make you happy or cheer you up. Try to think of at least five ideas. Now imagine living in a world where all these things were banned or against the law. Use this as inspiration for your next story.
  • Would you rather be rich and alone or poor and very popular? Write a story based on the lives of these two characters. 
  • Imagine your main character is a Librarian. Write down at least three dark secrets they might have. Remember, the best secrets are always unexpected.
  • There’s a history behind everything. Describe the history of your house. How and when was your house built? Think about the land it was built on and the people that may have lived here long before you.
  • Imagine that you are the king or queen of a beautiful kingdom. Describe your kingdom in great detail. What kind of rules would you have? Would you be a kind ruler or an evil ruler of the kingdom?
  • Make a wish list of at least three objects you wish you owned right now. Now use these three items in your next story. At least one of them must be the main prop in the story.
  • Using nothing but the sense of taste, describe a nice Sunday afternoon at your house. Remember you can’t use your other senses (i.e see, hear, smell or touch) in this description. 
  • What’s the worst pain you felt in your life? Describe this pain in great detail, so your readers can also feel it.
  • If you were lost on a deserted island in the middle of nowhere, what three must-have things would you pack and why?
  • Particpate in online writing challenges or contests. Here at Imagine Forest, we offer daily writing challenges with a new prompt added every day to inspire you. Check out our challenges section in the menu.

Do you have any more fun creative writing exercises to share? Let us know in the comments below!

creative writing exercises

Marty the wizard is the master of Imagine Forest. When he's not reading a ton of books or writing some of his own tales, he loves to be surrounded by the magical creatures that live in Imagine Forest. While living in his tree house he has devoted his time to helping children around the world with their writing skills and creativity.

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The Writing Center • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

In-Class Writing Exercises

If you find yourself wishing your students would write more thoughtful papers or think more deeply about the issues in your course, this handout may help you. At the Writing Center, we work one-on-one with thousands of student writers and find that giving them targeted writing tasks or exercises encourages them to problem-solve, generate, and communicate more fully on the page. You’ll find targeted exercises here and ways to adapt them for use in your course or with particular students.

Writing requires making choices. We can help students most by teaching them how to see and make choices when working with ideas. We can introduce students to a process of generating and sorting ideas by teaching them how to use exercises to build ideas. With an understanding of how to discover and arrange ideas, they will have more success in getting their ideas onto the page in clear prose.

Through critical thinking exercises, students move from a vague or felt sense about course material to a place where they can make explicit the choices about how words represent their ideas and how they might best arrange them. While some students may not recognize some of these activities as “writing,” they may see that doing this work will help them do the thinking that leads to easier, stronger papers.

Brainstorming

In order to write a paper for a class, students need ways to move from the received knowledge of the course material to some separate, more synthesized or analyzed understanding of the course material. For some students this begins to happen internally or through what we call “thinking,” unvoiced mulling, sorting, comparing, speculating, applying, etc. that leads them to new perspectives, understanding, questions, reactions about the course material. This thinking is often furthered through class discussion and some students automatically, internally move from these initial sortings of ideas into complex, logical interpretations of material at this point. But, for more students, their thinking will remain an unorganized, vague set of ideas referring to the subject. Many will have trouble moving beyond this vague sense or simple reaction toward ideas that are more processed, complex, or what we often call “deep.” We can foster that move to a deeper understanding by providing opportunities to externalize and fix their ideas on paper so that they may both see their ideas and then begin to see the relationships between them. The following activities will help students both generate and clarify initial responses to course material:

  • Free-writing. Find a clock, watch, or timer to help you keep track of time. Choose a topic, idea, question you would like to consider. It can be a specific detail or a broad concept-whatever you are interested in exploring at the moment. Write (on paper or on a computer) for 7-10 minutes non-stop on that topic. If you get stuck and don’t know what to say next, write “I’m stuck and don’t know what to say next…” or try asking yourself “what else?” until another idea comes to you. Do not concern yourself with spelling, grammar, or punctuation. Your goal is to generate as much as you can about the topic in a short period of time and to get used to the feeling of articulating ideas on the page. It’s ok if it’s messy or makes sense only to you. You can repeat this exercise several times, using the same or a variety of topics connecting to your subject. Read what you have written to see if you have discovered anything about your subject or found a line of questioning you’d like to pursue.
  • Clustering/Webbing. Find a clock, watch, or timer to help you keep track of time. Put a word you’d like to explore in the center of a piece of paper and put a circle around it. As fast as you can, free-associate or jot down anywhere on the page as many words as you can think of associated with your center word. If you get stuck, go back to the center word and launch again. Speed is important and quantity is your goal. Don’t discount any word or phrase that comes to you, just put it down on the page. Jot words for between 5-10 minutes. When you are finished you will have a page filled with seemingly random words. Read around on the page and see if you have discovered anything or can see connections between any ideas.
  • Listing. On a piece of paper list all the ideas you can think of connected to subjects you are considering exploring. Consider any idea or observation as valid and worthy of listing. List quickly and then set your list aside for a few minutes. Come back and read your list and do the exercise again.
  • Cubing. This technique helps you look at your subject from six different points of view (imagine the 6 sides of a cube and you get the idea). Take your topic or idea and 1) describe it, 2) compare it, 3) associate it with something else you know, 4) analyze it (meaning break it into parts), 5) apply it to a situation you are familiar with, 6) argue for or against it. Write at a paragraph, page, or more about each of the six points of view on your subject.
  • Journalistic questions. Write these questions down the left hand margin of a piece of paper: Who? What? Where? When? How? And Why? Think about your topic in terms of each question.
  • What? So What? Now what? To begin to explore an idea first ask yourself, “What do I want to explore?” and write about that topic for a page or more. Then read what you have written and ask “So what?” of the ideas expressed so far. Again, write for a page or more. Finally ask yourself, “Now what?” to begin to think about what else you might consider or where you might go next with an idea.
  • Defining terms. Although this suggestion is simple and may seem obvious, it is often overlooked. Write definitions for key terms or concepts in your own words. Find others’ articulations of the terms in your course readings, the dictionary, or in conversations, and compare these definitions to your own. Seek input from your instructor if you can’t get a working definition of a term for yourself.
  • Summarizing positions. Sometimes it’s helpful to simply describe what you know as a way to solidify your own understanding of something before you try to analyze or synthesize new ideas. You can summarize readings by individual articles or you can combine what you think are like perspectives into a summary of a position. Try to be brief in your description of the readings. Write a paragraph or up to a page describing a reading or a position.
  • Metaphor writing. Metaphors or similes are comparisons sometimes using the words “like” or “as.” For example, “writing is like swimming” or the “sky is as blue as map water” or “the keyboard wrinkled with ideas.” When you create a metaphor, you put one idea in terms of another and thereby create a new vision of the original idea. Sometimes it may be easier to create a metaphor or simile may help you understand your view of an idea before you can put it fully into sentences or paragraphs. Write a metaphor or simile and then explain to someone why your metaphor works or what it means to you.
  • Applying ideas to personal circumstance or known situations. Sometimes ideas come clearest when you can put them in a frame that is meaningful to you. Take a concept from your reading assignments and apply it so a situation in your own life or to a current event with which you are familiar. You may not end up using this application in your final draft, but applying it to something you know will help you to understand it better and prepare you to analyze the idea as your instructor directs.

Once students have something on the page to work with, they can begin the decision-making process crucial to developing a coherent idea or argument. At this point, students will choose which ideas most appeal to them, which ideas seem to fit together, which ideas need to be set aside, and which ideas need further exploration. The following activities will help students make decisions as they shape ideas:

  • Drawing diagrams. Sometimes it helps to look for the shape your ideas seem to be taking as you develop them. Jot down your main ideas on the page and then see if you can connect them in some way. Do they form a square? A circle? An umbrella with spokes coming down? A pyramid? Does one idea seem to sit on a shelf above another idea? Would equal signs, greater or less signs help you express the relationships you see between your idea? Can you make a flow chart depicting the relationships between your ideas?
  • Making charts or piles. Try sorting your ideas into separate piles. You can do this literally by putting ideas on note cards or scraps of paper and physically moving them into different piles. You can do this on the page by cutting and pasting ideas into a variety of groups on the computer screen. You can also make charts that illustrate the relationships between ideas. Common charts include timelines, authors sitting around a dinner table, and comparison/contrast charts.
  • Scrap pile. Be prepared to keep a scrap pile of ideas somewhere as you work. Some people keep this pile as a separate document as they work; others keep notes at the bottom of a page where they store scrap sentences or thoughts for potential use later on. Remember that it is sometimes important to throw out ideas as a way to clarify and improve the ones you are trying to develop along the way.
  • Shifting viewpoints (role-playing). When you begin to feel you have some understanding of your idea, it sometimes helps to look at it from another person’s point of view. You can do this by role-playing someone who disagrees with your conclusions or who has a different set of assumptions about your subject. Make a list or write a dialogue to begin to reveal the other perspective.
  • Applying an idea to a new situation. If you have developed a working thesis, test it out by applying it to another event or situation. If you idea is clear, it will probably work again or you will find other supporting instances of your theory.
  • Problem/Solution writing. Sometimes it helps to look at your ideas through a problem-solving lens. To do so, first briefly outline the problem as you see it or define it. Make sure you are through in listing all the elements that contribute to the creation of the problem. Next, make a list of potential solutions. Remember there is likely to be more than one solution.
  • Theory/application writing. If your assignment asks you to develop a theory or an argument, abstract it from the situation at hand. Does your theory hold through the text? Would it apply to a new situation or can you think of a similar situation that works in the same way? Explain your ideas to a friend.
  • Defining critical questions. You may have lots of evidence or information and still feel uncertain what you should do with it or how you should write about it. Look at your evidence and see if you can find repeated information or a repeated missing piece. See if you can write a question or a series of questions that summarize the most important ideas in your paper. Once you have the critical questions, you can begin to organize your ideas around potential answers to the question.
  • Explaining/teaching idea to someone else. Sometimes the most efficient way to clarify your ideas is to explain them to someone else. The other person need not be knowledgeable about your subject-in fact it sometimes helps if they aren’t familiar with your topic-but should be willing to listen and interrupt you when he or she doesn’t follow you. As you teach your ideas to someone else, you may begin to have more confidence in the shape of your ideas or you may be able to identify the holes in your argument and be more able to fix them.
  • Lining up evidence. If you think you have a good idea of how something works, find evidence in your course material, through research in the library or on the web that supports your thinking. If your ideas are strong, you should find supporting evidence to corroborate your ideas.
  • Rewriting idea. Sometimes what helps most is rewriting an idea over the course of several days. Take the central idea and briefly explain it in a paragraph or two. The next day, without looking at the previous day’s writing, write a new paragraph explaining your ideas. Try it again the next day. Over the course of three days, you may find your ideas clarifying, complicating, or developing holes. In all cases, you will have a better idea of what you need to do next in writing your draft.

As students have been working with their ideas, they have been making a series of choices about their ideas that will lead them to feel “ready” to put them in a more complete, coherent form; they will feel “ready to write” their ideas in something closer to the assignment or paper form. But for most, the tough moments of really “writing” begin at this point. They may still feel that they “have ideas” but have trouble “getting them on the page.” Some will suddenly be thrust into “writing a paper” mode and be both constrained and guided by their assumptions about what an assignment asks them to do, what academic writing is, and what prior experience has taught them about writing for teachers. These exercises may ease their entry into shaping their ideas for an assignment:

  • Clarify all questions about the assignment. Before you begin writing a draft, make sure you have a thorough understanding of what the assignment requires. You can do this by summarizing your understanding of the assignment and emailing your summary to your TA or instructor. If you have questions about points to emphasize, the amount of evidence needed, etc. get clarification early. You might try writing something like, “I’ve summarized what I think I’m supposed to do in this paper, am I on the right track?
  • Write a letter describing what the paper is going to be about. One of the simplest, most efficient exercises you can do to sort through ideas is to write a letter to yourself about what you are planning to write in your paper. You might start out, “My paper is going to be about….” And go on to articulate what evidence you have to back up your ideas, what parts still feel rough to you about your ideas. In about 20 minutes, you can easily have a good sense of what you are ready to write and the problems you still need to solve in your paper.
  • Write a full draft. Sometimes you don’t know what you think until you see what you’ve said. Writing a full draft, even if you think the draft has problems, is sometimes important. You may find your thesis appears in your conclusion paragraph.
  • Turn your ideas into a five-minute speech. Pretend you have to give a 5 minute speech to your classmates. How would you begin the speech? What’s your main point? What key information would you include? How much detail do you need to give the listener? What evidence will be most convincing or compelling for your audience?
  • Make a sketch of the paper. Sometimes it helps to literally line up or order you evidence before you write. You can do so quickly by making a numbered list of your points. Your goal is something like a sketch outline—first I am going to say this; next I need to include this point; third I need to mention this idea. The ideas should flow logically from one point to the next. If they don’t-meaning if you have to backtrack, go on a tangent, or otherwise make the reader wait to see the relationship between ideas, then you need to continue tinkering with the list.
  • Make an outline. If you have successfully used formal outlines in the past, use one to structure your paper. If you haven’t successfully used outlines, don’t worry. Try some of the other techniques listed here to get your ideas on the page
  • Start with the easiest part. If you have trouble getting started on a draft, write what feels to you like the easiest part first. There’s nothing magic about starting at the beginning-unless that’s the easiest part for you. Write what you know for sure and a beginning will probably emerge as you write.
  • Write the body of the paper first. Sometimes it’s helpful NOT to write the beginning or introductory paragraph first. See what you have to say in the bulk of your draft and then go back to craft a suitable beginning.
  • Write about feelings about writing. Sometimes it’s helpful to begin a writing session by spending 5-10 minutes writing to yourself about your feelings about the assignment. Doing so can help you set aside uncertainty and frustration and help you get motivated to write your draft.
  • Write with the screen turned off. If you are really stuck getting starting or in the middle of a draft, turn the monitor off and type your ideas. Doing so will prevent you from editing and critiquing your writing as you first produce it. You may be amazed at the quantity and quality of ideas you can produce in a short time. You’ll have to do some cleanup on the typos, but it may be well worth it if it allows you to bang out a draft.
  • Write in alternatives (postpone decision-making). You may need to test out more than one idea before you settle into a particular direction for a paper. It’s actually more efficient to spend time writing in several directions i.e. trying out one idea for awhile, then trying out another idea, than it is to try to fit all of your ideas into one less coherent draft. Your writing may take the form of brief overviews that begin, “If I were going to write about XYZ idea, I would…” until you are able to see which option suits the assignment and your needs.
  • Write with a timer. Sometimes what you need most is to get all of your ideas out on paper in a single sitting. To do so, pretend you are taking an essay exam. Set a timer for an appropriate amount of time (1 hour? 3 hours?) depending on the length of your draft. Assume that it will take you approximately 1 hour per page of text you produce. Set a goal for the portion of your draft you must complete during the allotted time and don’t get up from your seat until the timer goes off.

As students use language to shape ideas, they begin to feel the need to test their ideas or move beyond their own perspectives. Sometimes we have ideas that make good sense to us, but seem to lose or confuse readers as we voice them in conversation or on the page. Once students have a complete draft of a paper, they need ways to share their ideas to learn points where their ideas need further development. With feedback from an audience, students are better able to see the final decisions they still need to make in order for their ideas to reach someone. These decisions may be ones of word choice, organization, logic, evidence, and tone. Keep in mind that this juncture can be unsettling for some students. Having made lots of major decisions in getting their ideas down on the page, they may be reluctant to tackle another round of decision-making required for revising or clarifying ideas or sentences. Remind students that ideas don’t exist apart from words, but in the words themselves. They will need to be able to sell their ideas through the words and arrangement of words on the page for a specific audience.

  • Talk your paper. Tell a friend what your paper is about. Pay attention to your explanation. Are all of the ideas you describe actually in the paper? Where did you start explaining your ideas? Does your paper match your description? Can the listener easily find all of the ideas you mention in your description?
  • Ask someone to read your paper out loud to you. Ask a friend to read your draft out loud to you. What do you hear? Where does your reader stumble? Sound confused? Have questions? Did your reader ever get lost in your text? Did ideas flow in the order the reader expected them to? Was anything missing for the reader? Did the reader need more information at any point?
  • Share your draft with your instructor. If you give them enough notice, most instructors will be willing to read a draft of a paper. It sometimes helps to include your own assessment of the draft when you share it with a teacher. Give them your assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the draft, as you see it, to begin a conversation.
  • Share your draft with a classmate. Arrange to exchange papers with a classmate several days before the due date. You can do so via email and make comments for revision using Word’s comment function.
  • Look at your sentences. Often you will need to analyze your draft of the sentence level. To do so, break your paper into a series of discrete sentences by putting a return after each period or end punctuation. Once you have your paper as a list of sentences, you can more easily see and solve sentence level problems. Try reading the sentences starting with the last sentence of the draft and moving up. Doing so will take them out of context and force you to see them as individual bits of communication rather than familiar points.
  • Discuss key terms in your paper with someone else. After you have completed a draft, it’s sometimes helpful to look back at the key terms you are using to convey your ideas. It’s easy, in the midst of thinking about an idea, to write in loaded language or code in which certain key words come to have special meaning for you that isn’t necessarily shared by a reader. If you suspect this is the case, talk about your key terms with a friend, and ask them to read your draft to see if the idea is adequately explained for the reader.
  • Outline your draft. After you have a complete draft, go back and outline what you have said. Next to each paragraph write a word or phrase that summarizes the content of that paragraph. You might also look to see if you have topic sentences that convey the ideas of individual paragraphs. If you can’t summarize the content of a paragraph, you probably have multiple ideas in play in that paragraph that may need revising. Once you have summarized each paragraph, turn your summary words into a list. How does the list flow? Is it clear how one idea connects to the next?
  • Underline your main point. Highlight the main point of your paper. It should probably be (although it will depend on the assignment) in one sentence somewhere on the first page. If it’s not, the reader will likely be lost and wondering what you paper is about as he or she reads through it. Your draft should not read like a mystery novel in which the reader has to wait until the end to have all the pieces fit together.
  • Ask someone without knowledge of the course to read your paper. You can tell if your draft works by sharing it with someone outside of the context. If they can follow your ideas, someone inside the class will be able to as well.
  • Ask a reader to judge specific elements of your paper. Share your draft with someone and ask them to read for something specific i.e. organization, punctuation, transitions. A reader will give more specific feedback to you if you give them some specific direction.

Implementing exercises

Many of these exercises can be used in short in-class writing assignments, as part of group work, or as incremental steps in producing a paper. If you’ve assigned an end-of-semester term paper, you may want to assign one or two activities from each of the four stages-brainstorming, organizing, drafting, editing-at strategic points throughout the semester. You could also give the students the list of exercises for each stage and ask them to choose one or two activities to complete at each point as they produce a draft.

If you’d like to discuss how these exercises might work in your course, talk about other aspects of student writing, contact Kimberly Abels [email protected] at the Writing Center.

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Writers.com

The best writing exercises bring out our latent creativity. Especially if you ever feel stuck or blocked, making creative writing exercises part of your daily writing practice can be a great way to both hone your skills and explore new frontiers in your writing. Whether you’re a poet, essayist, storyteller, or genre-bending author, these free writing exercises will jumpstart your creative juices and improve your writing abilities.

24 of the Best Free Writing Exercises to Try Out Today

The best creative writing exercises will push you out of your comfort zone and get you to experiment with words. Language is your sandbox, so let’s build some sand castles with these exercises and writing prompts.

Write With Limitations

The English language is huge, complicated, and — quite frankly — chaotic. Writing with self-imposed limitations can help you create novel and inventive pieces.

What does “limitations” mean in this context? Basically, force yourself not to use certain words, descriptions, or figures of speech. Some writing exercises using limitations include the following:

  • Write without using adverbs or adjectives.
  • Write without using the passive voice – no “being verbs” whatsoever. (Also called “E-Prime” writing.)
  • Write a story without using a common letter –  just like Ernest Vincent Wright did .
  • Write a poem where each line has six words.
  • Write without using any pronouns.

Among exercises to improve writing skills, writing with limitations has the clearest benefits. This practice challenges your brain to think about language productively. Additionally, these limitations force you to use unconventional language – which, in turn, makes you write with lucidity, avidity, and invention.

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Freewriting & Stream of Consciousness

What do you do when the words just don’t come out? How can you write better if you can’t seem to write at all? One of the best poetry exercises, as well as writing exercises in general, is to start your day by freewriting.

Freewriting, also known as “stream of consciousness writing,” involves writing your thoughts down the moment they come. There’s no filtering what you write, and no controlling what you think: topicality, style, and continuity are wholly unnecessary in the freewriting process. While the idea of freewriting seems easy, it’s much harder than you think – examining your thoughts without controlling them takes a while to master, and the impulse to control what you write isn’t easy to tame. Try these exercises to master the skill:

  • Do a timed freewrite. Start with five minutes.
  • Freewrite until you fill up the entirety of something – an envelope, a receipt, a postcard, etc.
  • Freewrite after meditating.
  • Freewrite off of the first word of today’s newspaper.

Among daily writing exercises, freewriting is one of the best writing exercises. Poets can use freewritten material as inspiration for their poetry. Prose writers can also find inspiration for future stories from the depths of their consciousnesses. Start your writing day with freewriting, and watch your creativity blossom.

Copy What You Read

Plagiarism is still off the table; however, you can learn a lot by paying attention to how other people write. This is what we call “reading like a writer.”

Reading like a writer means paying attention to the craft elements that make an excellent piece of literature work. Good writing requires different writing styles, figurative language, story structures, and/or poetry forms, as well as key word choice.

When you notice these craft elements, you can go ahead and emulate them in your own work. As a fiction writer , you might be drawn to the way Haruki Murakami weaves folklore into his stories, and decide to write a story like that yourself. Or, as a poet, you might be inspired by Terrance Hayes’ Golden Shovel form — enough so that you write a Golden Shovel yourself.

  • Read a favorite poem, and write your own poem in the same poetic form.
  • Blackout poetry: take another poem, cross out words you don’t want to use, circle words you do, and write a poem based on the circled words.
  • Copy a single sentence from a favorite novel, and write a short-short story with it.

Among free writing exercises, this is a great way to learn from the best. The best kinds of exercises to improve writing skills involve building upon the current canon of works — as Isaac Newton said, you achieve something great by “standing on the shoulders of giants.”

Write From Different Perspectives

The conventional advice given to writers is to “write what you know.” We couldn’t disagree with that statement more. The best creative works force both the writer and the reader to consider new perspectives and learn something new; writing from a new point-of-view makes for a great exercise in expanding your creative limits.

Try these ideas as daily writing exercises:

  • Write a story with the same plot, but with two or more perspectives. For example, you could write a lover’s quarrel from two different view points.
  • Write from the point-of-view of a famous historical figure.
  • Write a story or poem from the perspective of an object: a statue, a doll, a roomba, etc.
  • Write from the perspective of a person you dislike.

While playing with perspective makes for a great fiction writing exercise , poets and essayists can do this too. Patricia Smith’s poem “Skinhead,” for example, is a persona piece written from the perspective of a white nationalist, but the poem clearly condemns the speaker’s beliefs.

Thus, perspective writing also works as a poetry exercise and an essay writing practice exercise . If you’re stuck in your own head, try writing in someone else’s!

Write Metaphor Lists

All creative writers need figurative language. While metaphors, similes, and synecdoches are more prominent in poetry , prose writers need the power of metaphor to truly engross their reader. Among both exercises to improve writing skills and fun writing exercises for adults, writing metaphor lists is one of the best writing exercises out there.

A metaphor list is simple. On a notebook, create two columns. In one column, write down only concrete nouns. Things like a pillow, a tree, a cat, a cloud, and anything that can be perceived with one of the five senses.

In the other list, write down only abstract ideas. Things like love, hate, war, peace, justice, closure, and reconciliation — anything that is conceptual and cannot be directly perceived.

Now, choose a random noun and a random concept, and create a metaphor or simile with them. Delve into the metaphor and explain the comparison. For example, you might say “Love is like a pillow — it can comfort, or it can smother.”

Once you’ve mastered the metaphor list, you can try the following ideas to challenge yourself:

  • Create a coherent poem out of your metaphor list.
  • Turn your metaphor list into a short story.
  • Try making lists with a different figurative language device, such as personification, pathetic fallacy, or metonymy.

Any free creative writing exercise that focuses on figurative language can aid your writing immensely, as it helps writers add insight and emotionality to their work. This is an especially great creative writing exercise for beginners as they learn the elements of style and language.

Daily Journaling

Of course, the best way to improve your creative writing skills is simply to write every day. Keeping a daily journal is a great way to exercise your writing mind. By sitting down with your personal observations and writing without an agenda or audience, a daily writing practice  remains one of the best writing exercises , regardless of your genre or level of expertise.

Consider these ideas for your daily journal:

  • Track your mood and emotions throughout the day. Write those emotions in metaphor — avoid commonplace adjectives and nouns.
  • Write about your day from the second- or third-person.
  • Journal your day in verse. Use stanzas, line breaks, and figurative language.
  • Write about your day backwards.
  • Write about your day using Freytag’s pyramid . Build up to a meaningful climax, even if nothing significant seemed to happen today.

Writing Exercises: Have Fun with Them!

Many of these writing exercises might feel challenging at first—and that’s a good thing! You will unlock new ideas and writing strengths by struggling through these creative challenges. The main point is to have fun with them and use them to explore within your writing, without indulging too many monologues from your inner critic.

Are you looking for more exercises to improve your writing skills? Our instructors can offer prompts, illuminating lectures, one-to-one feedback, and more to help you improve your craft. Check out our upcoming creative writing courses , and let’s put these skills to practice.

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Sean Glatch

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Thank you for this. I’ve been stuck for months—more than that, actually, and you’d think that a pandemic stay-at-home would be the perfect time to do some writing. But no. I’m as stuck as ever. In fact, the only time I seem able to write consistently and well is when I’m taking one of your classes! I’m still saving my pennies, but these exercises will hopefully get me writing in the meantime. Thanks again!

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Hi Kathy, I’m glad to hear some of these tips might spark your creativity 🙂 I feel the same way, I was hoping the stay-at-home order might spark some creativity, but we shouldn’t push ourselves too hard – especially in the midst of a crisis.

The best part about writing: all you have to do is try, and you’ve already succeeded. Good luck on your writing endeavors!

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Bravo….!What a great piece! Honestly I learnt a lot here!

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I picked interest in poetry just a week ago after reading a beautiful piece which captivated my mind into the world of writing. I’d love to write great poems but I don’t know anything about poetry, I need a coach, a motivator and an inspiration to be able to do this. This piece really helped me but I will appreciate some more tips and help from you or anyone else willing to help, I am really fervid about this.

Hi Anthony,

Thanks for your comment! I’m so excited for you to start your journey with poetry. We have more advice for poetry writing at the articles under this link: https://writers.com/category/poetry

Additionally, you might be interested in two of our upcoming poetry courses: Poetry Workshop and How to Craft a Poem .

If you have any questions, please feel free to email us at [email protected] . Many thanks, and happy writing!

[…] 24 Best Writing Exercises to Become a Better Writer | writers.com  […]

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Hi, kinsey there. Thanks for giving information. it is a very informative blog and i appreciate your effort to write a blog I am also a writer and i like these type of blogs everyone takes more knowledge to check out my essay writing website

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As a writer, I often struggle to break free from the chains of writer’s block, but this blog has gifted me with a map of inspiration to navigate through those creative storms. It’s like being handed a box of enchanted writing exercises

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fun writing exercises for college students

50 fun group writing exercises

Group writing exercises you can do with your writing circle or critique group are a fun ice-breaker and a way to get creative ideas flowing. Read 50 ‘fill in the blank’ creative writing prompts.

  • Post author By Jordan
  • 6 Comments on 50 fun group writing exercises

50 fun group writing exercises | Now Novel

‘Fill in the blank’ writing exercises are fun to do in a group. Writing exercises with some set parameters highlight the diverse, interesting ways different writers interpret and respond to the same prompts. Try one of 50 ‘fill in the blank’ creative writing prompts below, and share your creativity in the comments or tag @NowNovel if sharing your version on social media.

The group writing exercises

The first prompt was a prompt for a contest to win a place on our Group Coaching writing course .

Contest prompt

Fill in the blanks Now Novel group coaching contest

Every year, I’d made a resolution not to ever __ again. Yet by January 20th I’d already __ and __.

Entries were voted on blind by a panel of four from the Now Novel team, and the winner was Ethan Myers with this entry:

Writing contest winner - Ethan Myers entry

Here are 49 more prompts to enjoy and stimulate creative ideas:

Writing exercises featuring scene-setting

On leaving As soon as I turned 18, I left__. It was a town of__and__ .

On arrival I walked through the arched entryway and my jaw dropped. Everywhere you looked there were__. Marco Polo himself could never have imagined__.

The first time It was my first ever flight. I was__. Then a__ sat down next to me, turning to me and asking, “__?”

Compare and contrast My hometown was__. When I got to__, a college town, the first thing I noticed was__.

Use the senses The minute you entered, you could smell __. Paired with the sound of __, it was unmistakably home.

Be specific The home we’d rented for the holidays was neither__ nor__, contrary to the listing. Yet my younger brother was delighted when we found__.

Build a bucket list I’d always wanted to go to__. I’d read so much about its__, though nothing had prepared me for__.

Create a world In the books I had read as a kid, portals were gateways to worlds where __. Yet here, I was surprised to find a__.

Outside/inside Outside, the sounds of__ filled the air__. Yet inside, the 19th Century __was like another world, full of strange __.

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Group writing exercises featuring conflict

Lovers’ quarrel We thought it would be a romantic getaway to Rome. Then__. By the end of the day, hot and fed up, we__.

A troubling lookout He climbed the watchtower, yet when he turned to the window, what he saw made him tremble.__.

The duel Many had said that if they were ever to duel, no two could be more equally matched. But what his opponent didn’t know was__.

Alien invasion In alien movies, they always blew up The White House or__. So he hadn’t expected to be toe to toe with an extraterrestrial having a screamed debate about__.

An assassin As the most skilled contract killer in the kingdom, she knew how to__. Yet nobody knew that she__.

Warring nations It started with a trade embargo. Then the president said that our neighbors’ president was a __ with a __. Next thing we knew, __.

Difficult decisions I couldn’t decide whether to__ or to__, but it was 4:45 pm and the last train was leaving in five minutes.

Writing exercises using dialogue

Secrets and lies “I never__,” he said. Yet I knew he was lying because__.

Surprises “Guess what I have behind my back?” she said. “__?” I guessed. “No!” She held out__.

Confessions “I didn’t know how to tell you this … I__.” “I’m glad you told me, now we can__.”

Embarrassing family “Your son is very talented, Mr Jones,” the__ said. “You say that now. You should have seen when he was 9. He__ and we were told that__.”

Thinking aloud “You should__.” “What did you just say?” “Did I just say that out loud? I was thinking about__.”

Know-it-all “Bet you didn’t know__,” he gloated. “Bet you didn’t know__,” I clapped back, full sass.

Bad bard “Shall I compare thee-“ I married a thespian. “Shall I compare you to __?” I rolled my eyes.

Writing exercises using simile and metaphor

Wild reactions His face was as __ as a__ after the bug bite and we were all a bit worried.

Comparing the moon The moon is a__ tonight, its thin crescent glowing like a__.

Making abstraction specific My anxiety is like a__ on the first day of school. A__ with a __.

Sound and simile The first minutes the orchestra was like a __, the music shimmering like __. But in the allegro the principal violinist’s string broke and the conductor__.

Describing emotions Fear is a__ with a__.

Describing the human voice He had a voice like__, like a__ echoing in a __.

Degrees of comparison The mysterious drink they prepared was sweeter than__. But sweeter still was__.

Fill in the blanks writing exercise - use the senses | Now Novel

Writing exercises using different POVs

Fugitive I had run all night, adrenaline keeping fatigue at bay. When I saw__ as dawn broke, I knew__.

Collective They had ways of dealing with dissent. If you dared to go against the clan, you would be__, God help you.

The reader as reader You decide to go to the library. You want to read a book about__. The librarian raises an eyebrow as they run the barcode scanner. “__?” They ask, as you blush.

The group as one That summer, we__ until we couldn’t__. We were all in our twenties, and the days were__.

Writing exercise using different moods of the verb

Future perfect tense, indicative mood In several years’ time, she will have changed, our__ changing like__.

Present tense, potential mood “They may change their minds,” the King says, scowling, “or else we may have to__ and__.”

Future tense, subjunctive mood If I should__, then tell everyone I never__.

[See a helpful explanation of verb moods and tenses in Ursula K. Le Guin’s Steering the Craft . ]

Writing exercises from creating blanks in books

Colum McCann – Let the Great World Spin We had a short driveway full of__. If we crossed the road, we could stand on__ and__.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez – Love in the Time of Cholera He had returned from a long stay in Paris, where he__, and from the time he set foot on solid ground he__.

Margaret Atwood, Oryx and Crake Jimmy’s earliest complete memory was of a huge__. He must have been five, maybe six. He was wearing__.

Virginia Woolf – Mrs Dalloway Her only gift was__. If you put her in a room with some one, up went her back like a cat’s; or she__.

Italo Calvino – The Complete Cosmicomics I thought only of the Earth. It was the Earth that caused each of us to__.

David Sedaris – Me Talk Pretty One Day When painting proved too difficult, I turned to__, telling myself__.

Eva Hoffman – Lost in Translation The library is located in a__ street, in an ancient building, which one enters through a__. It is Plato’s cave, Egyptian temple, the space of__.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – Half of a Yellow Sun Richard said little at the parties Susan took him to. When she introduced him, she always added__. But they were pleasant to him; they would be to__.

Ursula K. Le Guin – The Left Hand of Darkness I’ll make my report as if I told a story, for I was taught__.

Colson Whitehead – The Zone The reunions were terrific and rote, early tutelage in the recursive nature of human experience. “__?” the girlfriends asked as they padded in bearing__, and he’d say “__”.

Barbara Kingsolver – The Poisonwood Bible Once every few years, even now, I catch the scent of__. It makes me want to keen, sing,__.

Jorge Luis Borges – Labyrinths He opened a drawer of the black and gold desk. He faced me and in his hands he held__.

Emily Brontë – Wuthering Heights While enjoying a month of fine weather at the sea-coast, I was thrown into the company of a__, a real__.

Find daily writing prompts plus literary device definitions and terms.

Build focus and a steady writing routine, and get help from experienced coaches and editors while connecting with other writers on our 6-month Group Coaching course. Learn more and see what alumni loved.

Related Posts:

  • How to find a writing group plus 7 pros of workshops
  • Writing exercises: 10 fun tense workouts
  • 6 creative writing exercises for rich character
  • Tags writing groups , writing inspiration , writing prompts

fun writing exercises for college students

Jordan is a writer, editor, community manager and product developer. He received his BA Honours in English Literature and his undergraduate in English Literature and Music from the University of Cape Town.

6 replies on “50 fun group writing exercises”

These exercises look like fun!

Sometimes there comes a point when you can’t think of anything worth writing. I guess every writer will know what I mean. But with these templates, I can get some inspiration and share whole stories with my friends.

Thank you, Jordan.

Hi Daisy, I’m glad that you found these ideas inspiring, it’s a pleasure. Thank you for sharing your feedback!

I love these! They’re inspiring (although I want to cheat and use them as-is). Lots of material for future fun 😉

Hi Margriet, thank you! I’m glad you find these writing exercises fun. We can share fill-in-the-blank exercises in the challenge group, that’s another idea.

Thankyou Jordan for these great points.

It’s a pleasure, Dave. Thank you for reading our blog.

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In-Class Writing Activities for College Students

Writing is an essential skill in a liberal arts education and is something each person needs to learn how to do in their lifetime. 

We’ll give you an overview here of the best writing activities, as well as why these writing activities are important. If you’re really in a crunch for your next essay , though, check out this cheap college essay writing service for custom papers.

Whether you’re a student or a professor, keep reading for our writing activity tips as well as some great recommendations on where to get custom writing online in a pinch.

Why Are Writing Activities Helpful?

There’s only one thing that separates a good writer from a great writer: practice. Great writers aren’t born that way, they write as much as possible, and use writing activities to target specific areas that they need to work on.

If you’re a writer, you may be familiar with the term “writer’s block.” You really want to write something, but you just can’t seem to get started. Any of the writing activities we are about to discuss here are super helpful for getting over that writer’s block.

Writing activities can also help you work on specific types of writing that you are not experienced in. For example, if you have written tons of academic essays for your classes, and suddenly you are assigned to write a piece of creative fiction, you might feel super out of your comfort zone. You can try some of the activities below in order to get that creative side of your writing brain turned all the way on.

Best In-Class Writing Activities

Here’s our list of some writing activities that may be super helpful for college students wishing to improve their writing skills.

This one is super simple, and it’s very helpful if you or your students are experiencing writer’s block. All you have to do is grab a pencil and paper, and set a timer for anywhere between one and ten minutes. Start the timer, and begin writing about whatever comes to mind. The only rule during this activity is that your pencil cannot leave the paper until the timer goes off.

This is a great brainstorming activity. When you’re finished, it may seem like just a bunch of gibberish, but read over it all and find a topic or sentence you wrote that you liked, and use it as inspiration for whatever your next writing assignment is.

To take this activity even further. Pick one or two sentences from your free-write , and write a 500-word paper about whatever those sentences say. This will really help to get your writer wheels turning.

Improve Writing

This one is great for any sort of creative writing you wish to do. It’s very simple: pick three or four random words with no association to each other. Then write a story that uses all of those words. For example, I could say elevator, strawberry, notebook, and you would have to write a creative story that involves each of those words. Try it out!

Bubble Mapping

Bubble mapping is a great activity that can be used for both nonfiction and fiction writing. It’s great if you’re a visual learner that has trouble organizing topics using just words. Bubble mapping is simply a form of outlining, but it is drawn in bubbles. 

All you need to do is put your central topic in a bubble at the center of a blank sheet of paper, coming off of the bubbles you can write or draw the related points, stories, or characters you are going to cover, and off of those bubbles, you can write or draw the specific details associated with each of those bubbles.

When you’re done you’ll have a great mess of bubbles, pictures, and words that will serve as a great organizational tool for your writing.

What If I Need Help Writing My Paper?

Sometimes, all the writing activities in the world can’t help you write the perfect paper, and we’ve all had writer’s block we just can’t get over. But don’t worry! If you need custom academic papers written by professional writers, check out cheap college essay writing services .

This online service provides custom papers on any subject with a very quick turnaround. They hire professional writers that know what they’re talking about. 

If you’re a college student, you definitely don’t have the budget to spend thousands of dollars on an essay for school , but this writing service provides quality papers for cheap.

In Conclusion…

Activities like free-writing, improve writing, and bubble mapping are all great in-class writing activities for college students that need to hone in on certain skills or get over their writer’s block. However, some papers may just be too difficult, and there’s no shame in asking for help. If you need quality, affordable, custom papers, check out cheap college essay writing services online .

Also, find best English essays at howtowrite.customwritings.com !

What are your favorite writing activities? Have you ever used a writing service? Tell us about your experience below, and don’t forget to share this article on social media.

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50 Fantastic Creative Writing Exercises

fun writing exercises for college students

Good question.

Creative writing exercises are designed to teach a technique. They are highly specific, more specific than creative writing prompts, and much more specific than story generators.

Creative writing exercises for adults are not designed to lead the writer into crafting a full story, but are only designed to help them improve as a writer in a narrow, specific category of writing skills.

I’ve broken the exercises below into categories so you can choose what category of skill you’d like to practice. Can you guess which category in this list has the most prompts?

If you guessed characters, then you’re right. I think characters are the heart blood of every story, and that a majority of any writing prompts or writing exercises should focus on them.

But I also think any of these will help you create a narrative, and a plot, and help you generate all kinds of dialogue, whether for short stories or for novels. These writing exercises are pretty much guaranteed to improve your writing and eliminate writer’s block. 

Also, if you’re a fledgling writer who needs help writing their novel, check out my comprehensive guide to novel writing.

Enjoy the five categories of writing exercises below, and happy writing!

five senses

1. Think of the most deafening sound you can imagine. Describe it in great detail, and have your character hear it for the first time at the start of a story.

2. Have a man cooking for a woman on a third date, and have her describe the aromas in such loving and extended detail that she realizes that she’s in love with him.

3. Pick a line from one of your favorite songs, and identify the main emotion. Now write a character who is feeling that emotion and hears the song. Try to describe the type of music in such a beautiful way that you will make the reader yearn to hear the song as well.

4. Have a character dine at a blind restaurant, a restaurant in pitch blackness where all the servers are blind, and describe for a full paragraph how the tablecloth, their clothing, and the hand of their dining partner feels different in the darkness.

5. Select a dish representative of a national cuisine, and have a character describe it in such detail that the reader salivates and the personality of the character is revealed.

Dialogue exercises

7. Describe two characters having a wordless conversation, communicating only through gestures. Try to see how long you can keep the conversation going without any words spoken, but end it with one of them saying a single word, and the other one repeating the same word.

8. In a public place from the last vacation you took, have two characters arguing, but make it clear by the end of the argument that they’re not arguing about what they’re really upset about.

9. Write a scene composed mostly of dialogue with a child talking to a stranger. Your mission is to show the child as heartbreakingly cute. At the same time, avoid sentimentality. 

10. Have two character have a conversation with only a single word, creating emphasis and context so that the word communicates different things each time it is spoken. The prime example of this is in the television show “The Wire,” where Jimmy and Bunk investigate a crime scene repeating only a single expletive.

fun writing exercises for college students

11. Pick an object that is ugly, and create a character who finds it very beautiful. Have the character describe the object in a way that convinces the reader of its beauty. Now write a second version where you convince the reader (through describing the object alone) that the character is mentally unstable.

12. Write down five emotions on slips of paper and slip them into a hat. Now go outside and find a tree. Draw one emotion from the hat, and try to describe that tree from the perspective of a character feeling that emotion. (Don’t mention the emotion in your writing — try to describe the tree so the reader could guess the emotion).

13. Describe a character’s bedroom in such a way that it tells us about a person’s greatest fears and hopes.

14. Root through your desk drawer until you find a strange object, an object that would probably not be in other people’s drawers. Have a character who is devastated to find this object, and tell the story of why this object devastates them.

15. Go to an art-based Pinterest page and find your favorite piece of art. Now imagine a living room inspired by that flavor of artwork, and show the room after a husband and wife have had the worst fight of their marriage.

16. Pick a simple object like a vase, a broom, or a light bulb, and write a scene that makes the reader cry when they see the object.

fun writing exercises for college students

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fun writing exercises for college students

17. Make a list of the top five fears in your life. Write a character who is forced to confront one of those fears.

18. Write an entire page describing the exact emotions when you learned of a happy or calamitous event in your life. Now try to condense that page into a single searing sentence.

19. Think about a time in your life when you felt shame. Now write a character in a similar situation, trying to make it even more shameful.

20. Write a paragraph with a character struggle with two conflicting emotions simultaneously. For example, a character who learns of his father’s death and feels both satisfaction and pain.

21. Write a paragraph where a character starts in one emotional register, and through a process of thought, completely evolves into a different emotion.

Characters:

fun writing exercises for college students

22. Create a minor character based upon someone you dislike. Now have your main character encounter them and feel sympathy and empathy for them despite their faults.

23. Have a kooky character tell a story inside a pre-established form: an instruction manual, traffic update, email exchange, weather report, text message.

24. Write about a character who does something they swore they would never do.

25. Have a character who has memorized something (the names of positions in the Kama Sutra, the entire book of Revelations) recite it while doing something completely at odds with what they’re reciting. For instance, bench pressing while reciting the emperors in a Chinese dynasty.

26. Write a paragraph where a character does a simple action, like turning on a light switch, and make the reader marvel at how strange and odd it truly is.

27. Have a couple fight while playing a board game. Have the fight be about something related to the board game: fighting about money, have them play monopoly. Fighting about politics, let them play chess.

28. Write about two characters angry at each other, but have both of them pretend the problems don’t exist. Instead, have them fight passive-aggressively, through small, snide comments.

29. Describe a character walking across an expanse field or lot and describe how he walks. The reader should perfectly understand his personality simply by the way you describe his walk.

30. Write a first-person POV of a character under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and try to make the prose as woozy and tipsy as the character.

31. Describe the first time that a character realizes he is not as smart as he thought.

32. Describe an hour in the life of a character who has recently lost their ability to do what they love most (a pianist who has severe arthritis; a runner who became a quadriplegic).

33. Write an argument where a husband or wife complains of a physical ailment, but their spouse refuses to believe it’s real.

34. Write a scene where a stranger stops your main character, saying that they know them, and insisting your main character is someone they are not. Describe exactly how this case of mistaken identity makes your character feel.

35. Describe a small personality trait about a person you love, and make the reader love them, too.

36. Write a personality-revealing scene with a character inside a public restroom. Do they press a thumb against the mirror to leave a subtle mark? Do they write a plea for help on the inside of the stall door? Do they brag about the size of what they’ve just dumped off?

37. Give your character an extremely unusual response to a national tragedy like a terrorist attack or natural disaster. Maybe have them be aware their response is unusual, and try to cloak it from others, or have them be completely unaware and display it without any self-consciousness.

38. Have one of your main characters come up with an idea for a comic book, and tell a close friend about the idea. What about this idea would surprise the friend, upsetting what he thought he knew about your main character? Also, what would the main character learn about himself from the comic book idea?

39. Think of an illness someone you love has suffered from. How does your character respond when someone close to them has this illness?

40. Have your main character invent an extremely offensive idea for a book, and show their personality faults through discussing it with others.

41. Have your character write down a list considering how to respond to their stalker.

42. Write a scene where a man hits on a woman, and although the woman acts repulsed and begs her friends to get him away from her, it becomes apparent that she likes the attention.

43. Write about a 20-something confronting his parents over their disapproval of his lifestyle.

44. Have your character write a funny to-do list about the steps to get a boyfriend or girlfriend.

45. Have a risk-adverse character stuck in a hostage situation with a risk-happy character.

46. For the next week, watch strangers carefully and take notes in your phone about any peculiar gestures or body language. Combine the three most interesting ones to describe a character as she goes grocery shopping.

47. Buy a package of the pills that expand into foam animals, and put a random one in a glass of warm water. Whatever it turns out to be, have that animal surprise your main character in a scene.

48. Have your character faced with a decision witness a rare, awe-inspiring event, and describe how it helps them make their decision.

49. Imagine if your character met for the first time his or her long-lost identical twin. What personality traits would they share and which ones would have changed because of their unique experiences? 

50. If a character got burned by a hot pan, what type of strange reaction would they have that would reveal what they value most?

Once you’ve taken a stab at some of these exercises, I’d recommend you use them in your actual writing.

And for instruction on that, you need a guide to writing your novel . 

That link will change your life and your novel. Click it now.

Creative Writing Exercises

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32 comments

John Fox, you have some excellent resources, and I thank you. I read your comments, then scrolled down to glance at the list of 50 exercises. The FIRST one, “loud noise’ is already in my head. My Hero is going to be side swiped in my Cozy. I was side swiped on a state highway here in Virginia a couple of weeks ago and, although the damage was minor, the sound of that big SUV “glancing” off my little car was SCARY!!! I once heard a fast-moving car REAR-END is stand-still car; that sound was something I’ll never forget. So, your exercise is very timely. THANK YOU!!!

This is a great list! Thanks!

You know what would be motivating? If we could turn these in to someone and get like a grade lol

I’ve been thinking a lot about “how to master writing,” and this is the first time that I found an article that makes it clear the difference between prompts and exercises. I fully agree with you. These are bound to make you a better writer if you focus on doing a variation of them daily.

An excellent list – thank you very much. I run a small writing group and we’ll be trying some.

Yes, thank you. I too run a small writing group and you got me out of a slump for tomorrow’s group!

yes,thank you . It’s good for improve your writing skills.

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What a lovely list! I am working on the final draft of my very first novel, and am constantly working at improving the final product. Your exercises are just what I need to kickstart my writing day. Thank you so very much.

Thank you very much When I turned50 I received my diploma from Children’s Institute in West Redding Ct I got my inspiration from being near water however now that I am in Oregon I have had a writing block thanks to your list my creative juices are flowing

I suppose I better have good punctuation, seeing this is about Writing. Thank you for this great list. I am the Chair of our small Writing group in Otorohanga and we start again last week of Feb. I have sent out a homework email, to write a A4 page of something exciting that has happened over the holiday break and they must read it out to the group with passion and excitement in their voices. That will get them out of their comfort zone!

A formidable yet inspiring list. Thank you very much for this. This is really very helpful. I am from India, and very new to writing and have started my first project, which I want to make it into a Novel. This has been very helpful and is very challenging too. Prompts look sissy when compared to this, frankly speaking. Thank you very much again.

Where can I get the answers for these?

There aren’t “answers.” You create responses to these exercises.

Thank you so much for the detailed suggestions focusing on HOW to put the WHAT into practice; really helpful & inspiring.

Just started rough drafting a story I’ve always wanted to write. Do you have any advice for someone writing their first real story? I’m having trouble starting it; I just want it to be perfect.

I consider this very helpful. Just started my journey as a creative writer, and will be coming back to this page to aid my daily writing goal.

I have always loved writing exercises and these are perfect practice for my competition. I have tried lots of different things that other websites have told me to try, but this by far is the most descriptive and helpful site that i have seen so far.

This is really a creative blog. An expert writer is an amateur who didn’t stop. I trust myself that a decent writer doesn’t actually should be advised anything but to keep at it. Keep it up!

I’ve always enjoyed writing from a little girl. Since I’ve been taking it a bit more seriously as does everybody else it seems; I’ve lost the fun and sponteneity. Until now…..this is a marvelous blog to get back the basic joy and freedom in writing. Or should that be of?:) These exercises are perfect to get the creative juices flowing again…..thank you:)

These are interesting exercises for writing.

These are fantastic! I started reading a really awesome book on creative writing but it just didn’t get any good or easy to follow exercises. So I found your site and having been having a lot of fun with these. Exactly what I was looking for, thank you!

creative and inspiring, thank you

I always wanted to have an exercise where a friend and I each wrote a random sentence and sent it to each other to write a short story from that beginning sentence, then exchange the stories for reading and/or critique. Maybe both writers start with the same sentence and see how different the stories turn out.

Thanks for these exercises. Some are really challenging. To truly tackle them I’m having to spend as long beforehand thinking “how the HECK am I going to do this?” as I do with ink on paper. Would be a great resource if other authors submitted their replies and thoughts about how they went about each exercise.

Start the conversation: submit one of yours.

I think I can use these to inspire my students.

Hi there. Thank you for posting this list- it’s great! Can I ask you to consider removing number 42 or perhaps changing it somewhat? I teach sex ed and every year am shocked by how many young people don’t understand issues around consent. Stories about woman who ‘say no but really mean yes’ are deeply unhelpful. Really appreciate your post but felt I had to ask. Thanks.

What’s wrong with the number 42?

It promulgates the belief that when a woman says no, she doesn’t mean it, potentially resulting in sexual assault.

I just make this list a part of my teaching in Creative Writing Classes. Very good list of ideas!

Thank you so much for posting this! I have used it to create a creative playwriting activity for my high school creative writing class–so much good stuff here for me to pick through and select for my kiddos that will allow them to shine and improve their knowledge of writing as a craft!

fun writing exercises for college students

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It’s a guide to writing the pivotal moments of your novel.

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The Write Practice

100 Writing Practice Lessons & Exercises

by Joe Bunting | 50 comments

Want to become a better writer? Perhaps you want to write novels, or maybe you just want to get better grades in your essay writing assignments , or maybe you'd like to start a popular blog .

If you want to write better, you need practice. But what does a writing practice actually look like? In this post, I'm going to give you everything you need to kick off your writing practice and become a better writer faster.

100 Top Writing Practice Lessons and Exercises

What Is Writing Practice?

Writing practice is a method of becoming a better writer that usually involves reading lessons about the writing process, using writing prompts, doing creative writing exercises , or finishing writing pieces, like essays, short stories , novels , or books . The best writing practice is deliberate, timed, and involves feedback.

How Do You Practice Writing?

This was the question I had when I first started The Write Practice in 2011. I knew how to practice a sport and how to practice playing an instrument. But for some reason, even after studying it in college, I wasn't sure how to practice writing.

I set out to create the best writing practice I could. The Write Practice is the result.

I found that the best writing practice has three aspects:

Deliberate . Writing whatever you feel like may be cathartic, but it's not an effective way to become a better writer or build your writing skills. You'll get better faster by practicing a specific technique or aspect of the writing process each time you sit down to write.

This is why we have a new lesson about the writing process each day on The Write Practice, followed by a practice prompt at the end so you can put what you learned to use immediately.

Timed . It's no secret writers struggle with focus. There are just too many interesting distractions—Facebook, email, Kim Kardashian's Instagram feed (just kidding about that last one, sort of)—and writing is just too hard sometimes.

Setting a timer, even for just fifteen minutes, is an easy and effective way to stay focused on what's important.

This is why in our writing practice prompt at the end of each post we have a time limit, usually with a link to an online tool egg timer , so you can focus on deliberate practice without getting distracted.

Feedback . Getting feedback is one of the requirements to deliberately practice writing or any other craft. Feedback can look like listening to the reactions of your readers or asking for constructive criticism from editors and other writers.

This is why we ask you to post your writing practice after each lesson, so that you can get feedback from other writers in The Write Practice community. It's also why we set up The Write Practice Pro community , to provide critique groups for writers to get feedback on each finished piece of writing.

How to practice writing

Our 100+ Best Creative Writing Practice Exercises and Lessons

Now that you know how we practice writing at The Write Practice, here are our best writing practice lessons to jumpstart your writing skills with some daily writing exercises, for beginner writers to even the most expert writers:

All-Time, Top 10 Writing Lessons and Exercises

These ten posts are our most viewed articles to boost your writing practice:

1. What is Plot? The 6 Elements of Plot and How to Use Them . Great stories use similar elements in wildly different ways to build page-turning stories. Click here to read what they are and learn how to start using them !

2. Top 100 Short Story Ideas . Here are over a hundred writing prompts in a variety of genres. If you need ideas for your next story, check this out!

3. How To Use Neither, Nor, Or, and Nor Correctly . Even good writers struggle figuring out when to use neither/nor and either/or. In this post, our copy-queen Liz Bureman settles the confusion once and for all. Click to continue to the writing exercise

4. Ten Secrets To Write Better Stories . How does Pixar manage to create such great stories, year after year? And how do you write a good story? In this post, I distill everything I've learned about how to write a good story into ten tips. Click to continue to the writing exercise

5. 35 Questions To Ask Your Characters From Marcel Proust . To get to know my characters better, I use a list of questions known as the Proust Questionnaire, made famous by French author, Marcel Proust. Click to continue to the writing exercise

6. How a Scene List Can Change Your Novel-Writing Life . Creating a scene list changed my novel-writing life, and doing the same will change yours too. Includes examples of the scene lists from famous authors. Click to continue to the writing exercise

7. Why You Need to be Using the Oxford Comma . Most people I've met have no idea what the Oxford comma is, but it's probably something that you have used frequently in your writing. Click to continue to the writing exercise

8. Six Surprising Ways to Write Better Interview Questions.  The interview is the most-used tool in a journalist's bag. But that doesn't mean novelists, bloggers, and even students can't and don't interview people. Here's how to conduct a great interview. Click to continue to the writing exercise

9. Why You Should Try Writing in Second Person . You've probably used first person and third person point-of-view already. But what about second person? This post explains three reasons why you should try writing from this point-of-view. Click to continue to the writing exercise

10. The Secret to Show, Don't Tell . You've heard the classic writing rule, “Show. Don't Tell.” Every writing blog ever has talked about it, and for good reason. Showing, for some reason, is really difficult. Click to continue to the writing exercise.

Book Idea Worksheet

12 Exercises and Lessons To Become a Better Writer

How do you become a better writer? These posts share our best advice:

  • Want to Be a Better Writer? Cut These 7 Words
  • What I Mean When I Say I Am A Writer
  • How to Become a Writer: 3 Simple Steps
  • 72% of Writers Struggle With THIS
  • 7 Lies About Becoming a Writer That You Probably Believe
  • 10 Questions to Find Your Unique Writing Voice
  • The Best Writing Book I’ve Ever Read
  • The Best Way to Become a Better Writer
  • The Creative Writer’s Toolkit: 6 Tools You Can’t Write Without
  • Should You Write More or Write Better: Quantity vs Quality
  • How to Become a Better Writer in One, Simple Step
  • 11 Writing Tips That Will Change Your Life

6 Lessons and Exercises from Great Writers

If you want to be a writer, learn from the great writers who have gone before you:

  • 23 Essential Quotes from Ernest Hemingway About Writing
  • 29 Quotes that Explain How to Become a Better Writer
  • 10 Lessons Dr. Seuss Can Teach Writers
  • 10 Writing Tips from Ursula Le Guin
  • Once Upon a Time: Pixar Prompt
  • All the Pretty Words: Writing In the Style of Cormac McCarthy

12 Genre and Format Specific Writing Lessons and Exercises

Here are our best writing lessons for specific types of writing, including essays, screenplays, memoir, short stories, children's books, and humor writing:

  • Writing an Essay? Here Are 10 Effective Tips
  • How To Write a Screenplay: The 5 Step Process
  • How to Write a Great Memoir: a Complete Guide
  • How to Write a Short Story from Start to Finish
  • How to Write a Thriller Novel
  • How to Write a Children's Book
  • How to Write a Love Story
  • How to Write a Coming of Age Story or Book
  • How to Write an Adventure Book
  • 5 Key Elements for Successful Short Stories
  • 4 Tips to Write a Novel That Will Be Adapted Into a Movie
  • Humor Writing for People Who Aren’t Funny

14 Characterization Lessons and Exercises

Good characters are the foundation of good fiction. Here are our best lessons to create better characters:

  • Character Development: How to Create Characters Audiences Will Love
  • Writing Villains: 9 Evil Examples of the Villain Archetype
  • How NOT to Introduce a New Character
  • The Strongest Form of Characterization
  • The Most Important Character Archetype
  • How Do You Build A Strong Character In Your Writing?
  • 75+ Antihero Examples and How to Use Them
  • How to Explore Your Characters’ Motivations
  • 8 Tips for Naming Characters
  • The Protagonist: How to Center Your Story
  • Heroes vs. Anti-Heroes: Which Is Right For Your Story?
  • The Weakest Form of Characterization
  • How to Write With an Accent
  • How To Create a Character Sketch Using Scrivener

15 Grammar Lessons and Exercises

I talk to so many writers, some of whom are published authors, who struggle with grammar. Here are our best writing lessons on grammar:

  • Is It Okay To End A Sentence With A Preposition?
  • Contractions List: When To Use and When To Avoid
  • Good vs. Well
  • Connotation vs. Denotation
  • Per Se vs. Per Say
  • When You SHOULD Use Passive Voice
  • When Do You Use “Quotation Marks”
  • Polysyndeton and Asyndeton: Definition and Examples
  • The Case Against Twilight
  • Affect Versus Effect
  • Stop Saying “Literally”
  • What Is a Comma Splice? And Why Do Editors Hate Them?
  • Intra vs. Inter: Why No One Plays Intermural Sports
  • Alright and Alot: Words That Are Not Words
  • The Poor, Misunderstood Semicolon

4 Journalism Lessons and Exercises

Want to be a journalist? Or even use techniques from journalism to improve your novel, essay, or screenplay? Here are our best writing lessons on journalism:

  • Six Ways to Ask Better Questions In Interviews
  • How Should You Interview Someone? Over Email? In Person?
  • What If They Don’t Want to Talk to You?
  • Eleven Habits of a Highly Effective Interviewers

16 Plot and Structure Lessons and Exercises

Want to write a good story? Our top plot and structure lessons will help:

  • The Ten Types of Story and How to Master Them
  • Points of a Story: 6 Plot Points Every Story Needs
  • How to Shape a Story: The 6 Arcs
  • 7 Keys To Write the Perfect First Line of a Novel
  • The Secret to Creating Conflict
  • 4 Tips to Avoid Having Your Short Story Rejected by a Literary Magazine
  • 7 Steps to Creating Suspense
  • 5 Elements of Storytelling
  • 3 Important Rules for Writing Endings
  • A Writer’s Cheatsheet to Plot and Structure
  • Overcoming the Monster
  • How to Satisfy Your Reader With a Great Ending
  • Pow! Boom! Ka-Pow! 5 Tips to Write Fight Scenes
  • The Dramatic Question and Suspense in Fiction
  • How to Write a Memorable Beginning and Ending
  • How to Write the Perfect First Page

6 Lessons and Exercises to Beat Writer's Block

Writer's block is real, and it can completely derail your writing. Here are six lessons to get writing again:

  • How To Write Whether You Feel Like it Or Not
  • This Fun Creative Writing Exercise Will Change Your Life
  • When You Should Be Writing But Can't…
  • What to do When Your Word Count is Too Low
  • 7 Tricks to Write More with Less Willpower
  • When You Don’t Know What to Write, Write About Your Insecurities

7 Literary Technique Lessons and Exercises

These writing and storytelling techniques will teach you a few tricks of the trade you may not have discovered before:

  • 3 Tips to “Show, Don’t Tell” Emotions and Moods
  • 3 Reasons to Write Stream of Consciousness Narrative
  • 16 Observations About Real Dialogue
  • Intertextuality As A Literary Device
  • Why You Should Use Symbolism In Your Writing
  • 6 Ways to Evoke Emotion in Poetry and Prose
  • 3 Tips To Write Modern Allegorical Novels
  • Symbol vs. Motif: What’s the Difference

3 Inspirational Writing Lessons and Exercises

Need some inspiration? Here are three of our most inspiring posts:

  • Why We Write: Four Reasons
  • You Must Remember Every Scar
  • 17 Reasons to Write Something NOW

3 Publishing Blogging Lessons and Exercises

If you want to get published, these three lessons will help:

  • The Secret to Writing On Your Blog Every Day
  • How to Publish Your Book and Sell Your First 1,000 Copies
  • How to Get Published in Literary Magazines

11 Writing Prompts

Need inspiration or just a kick in the pants to write. Try one of our top writing prompts :

  • Grandfathers [writing prompt]
  • Out of Place [writing prompt]
  • Sleepless [writing prompt]
  • Longing [writing prompt]
  • Write About Yourself [writing prompt]
  • 3 Reasons You Should Write Ghost Stories
  • Road Trip [writing prompt]
  • Morning [writing prompt]
  • The Beach [writing prompt]
  • Fall [writing prompt]
  • How to Use Six-Word Stories As Writing Prompts

Is It Time To Begin Your Writing Practice?

It's clear that if you want to become a writer, you need to practice writing. We've created a proven process to practice your writing at The Write Practice, but even if you don't join our community, I hope you'll start practicing in some way today.

Personally, I waited  far  too long to start practicing and it set my writing back years.

How about you? Do you think practicing writing is important?  Let me know in the comments section .

Choose one of the writing practice posts above. Then, read the lesson and participate in the writing exercise, posting your work in the Pro Practice Workshop . And if you post, please give feedback to your fellow writers who also posted their practices.

Have fun and happy practicing!

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Joe Bunting

Joe Bunting is an author and the leader of The Write Practice community. He is also the author of the new book Crowdsourcing Paris , a real life adventure story set in France. It was a #1 New Release on Amazon. Follow him on Instagram (@jhbunting).

Want best-seller coaching? Book Joe here.

How to Write a Memoir: How to Start (and Actually Finish) Your First Draft

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Department of English

First-Year Writing

Classroom activities.

FYW courses put a primary emphasis on the circulation and development of ongoing academic projects rather than coverage of a specific content or explicit instruction in discrete skills. A FYW course functions as an academic seminar and, in this way, is built on the contributions of its members.

Because student projects provide the central focus of the course, then, working with student writing should be a part of most class sessions .

Ways to Feature Student Work

  • Circulate drafts in process or portions of drafts in any number of ways (volunteers, random selection, copying a page (or even various sentences) from several drafts, asking students to choose a favorite paragraph or a place where they work with more than one text, etc.).
  • Ask students to characterize, frame, or situate each other’s work (perhaps in a genre such as headnote, introduction, afterword, blog post, or even review).
  • Build things together in a shared online space (e.g., a Course Bibliography in a Google Doc; an annotation or glossary of key terms in a Google Doc; a HuskyCT blog or discussion thread exploring potential extensions of the texts).
  • Have students post drafts as discussion threads, allowing all students access and assigning a peer review process (with guidelines) for all group members.
  • Build some peer reviewing in class and some out of class (through email or course management software).
  • Help students build “affinity networks” or writing groups around similar projects.
  • Feature a particular project from one student or from a collection you’ve made to help work through a problem or issue.
  • Share reflective writing and process notes.
  • Assign cover letters, informal (mid-process) presentations, formal presentations, or re-mediation projects (putting the larger project into a new genre or context).

Examples of Class Activities

Below is a list of in-class activities that instructors use in classes. These activities are not meant to be picked to “fill time.” They should be chosen to facilitate writing and group work and to meet that day’s specific learning outcomes. These are not the only activities you could or should do in class, but they should help instructors conceptualize the work of a single class period.

When students do individual or group work in class, be sure to have time afterward for the whole class to come together to reflect on and/or discuss the work that has been done. To avoid having students simply list what they discussed or found, it may be useful to structure that time as informal presentations, or to have groups upload their findings/ work to a common HuskyCT or Google Drive area. Some instructors also have groups write what they’ve done on the board or large-sized paper if a classroom is not tech-enabled.

The following examples are organized by generalized types of activities.

Working with Difficult Texts

Unpacking Difficult Passages

Prepare a handout with difficult passages from the text, or have students identify difficult passages in the reading. Assign students to different groups based on a particular passage.  In groups, have students trace how a term or concept is used in a particular passage and in the text as a whole. They should pull specific quotes that help them back up their understanding. Groups should use the textual evidence as a means to begin “translating” the passages. Afterward, they should go back to the text and reflect on why the author(s) used a specific term or concept in the text.

Visually Mapping a Text

A variation of this activity is to have students map the key terms visually. Together in groups, students should map and link key terms used by the author. Maps might not (and perhaps should not) be linear—students are encouraged to see the many ways the terms seem to interact in the text. Afterward, groups can compare maps to add lines or connections that they may not have noticed previously.

Exploring the Uses of a Text

Current, Past, or Future Contexts

Depending on your course inquiry and assignments, you may want students to consider how class readings can apply to and work in relation to different contexts, especially in the beginning stages of a larger assignment. Your specific learning goals will help determine which context will make most sense for your class to explore.

Current Context: Choose a current issue or have students work together to find a current issue that relates to your course inquiry and the text. Choose yourself or have students select key terms or concepts from the reading to help them examine or analyze the issue. Students will need to conduct research on the issue in groups. Then, on their own, in writing, students should draw connections between the text and issue.

Past Context: Ask students to bring a laptop or tablet to class, or divide them into groups (at least one student in each group should have a laptop). Using their devices, students should explore the sociohistorical context of the reading in order to consider how it might have affected the text’s rhetoric (or vice versa).

Future Contexts: Have students consider how the text might be useful for future conflicts, issues, or developments in society or academia. The future context may be best paired with either the current or past contexts to demonstrate the development of ideas or movements over time. Students should explore self- or group-generated questions through individual writing, then discuss or otherwise share their ideas.

What’s Missing?

In small groups, students brainstorm for situations or concepts that the reading doesn’t seem to account for and why or how that situation or concept might be important to include or discuss in the conversation. The class makes a list of these various missing pieces, and then students individually reflect on how these choices reflect the priorities and rhetorical strategies of the author. What do their choices reveal about their aims?

What Is This Text? Who Is This Author?

Any assigned text can be accompanied with a small research component designed to help students place the text in a larger context. If you assign a text by Judith Butler, for exam- ple, students could be assigned roles to establish this context. One set of students could research Butler the person; another set could say more about what her influential writings are (and what they seek to do); a third set of students could trace the reception and influence of these texts. Based on this research, have students reflect in writing on the significance of these contexts and what these findings demonstrate about academic writing and this specific conversation. Next, use the contexts explored as a jumping-off point for students to begin exploring their next assignment.

Information Literacy and Handling Sources

Citation Trail

One way to begin the conversation about Information Literacy (InfoLit) and how to use sources effectively is to ask students to explore how other writers use sources. Working with the texts used in class, invite students to choose, in groups, one of the works that the author has cited. Have students locate that source, read it (in its entirety if it’s short or just the relevant section if it’s long).

After reading the source, ask students to freewrite on the source’s main idea, what kind of source it is, and why the author used it. Then, in groups, have students discuss how the author of the class text used the source and how the source is contributing to the class text’s author’s main claims.

After facilitating a brief class discussion of the groups’ findings, have students reflect, individually in writing, on the different ways a writer can use sources and how such choices can inform their own writing.

InfoLit Through Terms, Search Engines, and Databases

As a class, have students brainstorm a research question that engages with the next essay prompt. Afterward, have students brainstorm the kind of sources that may be useful for exploring said question, the fields that may already discussing or provide insight on the topic (like specific news sources or subject specific databases). Then, for each kind of source or each discipline, have students brainstorm key terms and discuss why certain terms are more useful than others in certain searches. After the list has been made, have students determine where to look for this information. From this point, you can decide whether to proceed with the search as a class or to have students to break into groups to explore different terms, search engines, and databases.

You may want to engage your students in a conversation about research questions before this activity or in a prior class period. Students will likely not be sure how to craft meaningful research questions. Be sure that you build in moments for students to reflect in writing on what the activity means for their own research processes.

Documenting the Research Process

As a take-home assignment, have students take screenshots of their research process for a larger project (including pictures of the key terms they use, the search results, the articles they select, etc.) or record their research process. Students can either save the images on their computer or print them (whichever is more convenient). If they took a video, ask them to bring in their computer with the video. In class, have students map out the process—from where they began to where they ended. It may be best to do this on large sheets of paper, index cards, or construction paper. As they map out the process, have students make connections through a freewrite between the choices they made (e.g., how one term led to a new term, how they followed several hyperlinks and where that led them). Once they have finished their map/web and their freewrite, have students pair up and talk through their process and connections. In pairs, students should help each other identify gaps in their research and brainstorm new terms, websites, databases, etc., to explore. At the end, have students write out a research plan for the next portion of their assignment.

Annotated Bibliography

Have students bring an annotated bibliography and the original sources to class. It’s important to stress that this research often includes a lot of excess—simply choosing the first hit is often not the right match for a research project. Have students write about the choices they made in selecting their sources and reflect on how these sources contribute to their developing projects.

An alternative or add-on to this activity is to make students’ in-class work multimodal. With their annotated bibliographies, have students use either Prezi or construction paper and string to create a web that represents connections between sources. Students can address these questions: How do the sources talk to each other? How do they agree or disagree or qualify each other’s discussions? After students create their webs, have them reflect on the gaps that seem to exist in their web or identify the outlying sources that no longer work in their developing projects.

Depending on your course, you may want to make the annotated bibliography a collaborative project, where students contribute the sources they have found to a class archive that other students are encouraged to draw on in their writing projects. Google Docs (or a similar technology) can enable your class to create a “living” bibliography that each student can alter, add to, and improve throughout the semester.

Using Sources

Working with Other Voices

Have students highlight all the material borrowed or quoted from another source (including their own previous projects) in their essays in one color, and in a different color highlight all the places where they respond to or analyze those passages. Then ask them to evaluate their use of other voices—or trade papers and discuss with a partner. Are the  passages adequately unpacked, explained, and analyzed? Is the reader left hanging? Are there more quotations than the students’ own words? How does the student build on and revise or drop things they wrote about in the previous assignment?

This activity could work well alongside a discussion of the difference between summary and analysis.

Outside View

Have students pass their essays around in groups. Each student should choose at least one quotation in their peer’s paper and answer the following questions: Do you know where the quote is from? Does the writer describe how or why the quote is useful for considering something interesting or troubling about their project? Is the quote integrated into the discussion of the paragraph? Afterward, students can return their papers to the original writer, and students can spend five to ten minutes revising their use of that quote.

Exploring Structure

Reverse Outline

Have students create a reverse outline of a reading, thinking about questions like: Where is the agenda, the method, and the evidence? Is the argument linear? Does the reading present a compelling argument or an interesting idea? Students can do this work individually, in groups, or together as a class. They can also identify what work each paragraph of a challenging section is doing in the author’s argument (beyond what each paragraph is saying). For instance, is a paragraph introducing a key term or idea? Illustrating a key point of evidence?

Be sure to give students time to reflect on what they have discovered through the reverse outline and how it can apply to their own writing. You may want to give them an in-class writing activity that asks them to take their own draft and model it after the essay and reflect on how the new structure influences the content and purpose of their draft.

Mapping the Text

Using the whiteboard, blank paper, or colored construction paper, have students, in groups, create a visual map of the text that they read for class. Encourage them to make design choices that reflect the author’s purpose in the text. Students can then discuss the choices the writer made in response to a specific audience or conversation.

Introduction Workshop

Project (or copy and distribute) a student’s introduction to the class and have students write what in the introduction is helpful for them as readers and what they might still need information on (for instance, if the required texts for the assignment haven’t been introduced). Have them restate the author’s project in their own words. Afterward, students s hould gather in groups to discuss various strategies for addressing potential issues that may have arisen, and then the whole class can discuss approaches to revision.

Also, before looking at student writing, you might have students consider introductions from the assigned readings, especially if you’re asking students to write in a similar genre. Discussing the readings can then serve as a jumping-off point for looking at student work.

Collaborative Revision

Revision can be one of the toughest aspects of writing for students to fully grasp and take advantage of. Extensively working with revising in class to demonstrate what effective revision can look like helps students to understand that revision is more than simply correcting grammar and word choice. At any stage in the drafting process, working on revision with the entire class can help students conceptualize how revising can be done effectively. Depending on your class and its needs, you may either want to pre-select students whose essays best exemplify an issue the majority of the class is grappling with or have students volunteer their work themselves. If you pre-select students, you’re most likely going to gear your discussion toward a particular issue that the sample drafts exemplify. Self-volunteered drafts may engage several different issues. As students look at the samples, have them think about how the project might be supported with texts from the class, how it contributes new knowledge, and how the writer might move forward in the essay. It may be helpful to have the student identify a specific location where they’re having trouble. As you go about your discussion, you will be modeling ways of responding to texts in peer review. Be sure to make that explicit to the students.

Topic-Specific Workshop

After reading a round of student drafts, you may find that there are common challenges that students are working through. These common issues can be the basis of in-class workshops to help students navigate these particular challenges. Below are two examples, but there are many other writing challenges to work with in class.

Transitions: Some students may be listing their major points in the body of the paper rather than developing a project; consequently, you might call on a student volunteer, or project two anonymous paragraphs from a student paper, to examine how one paragraph moves to the next. Ask students how the two paragraphs might be related and, in groups, have them rewrite the ends and beginnings of the two paragraphs so as to make explicit how the ideas in the paragraphs build on and relate to one another. Have each group present their revisions and discuss their strategies.

In-Text Citations/Using Sources: Using sources effectively in a text is a challenge for many students. Students must not only cite information correctly, but also integrate the quote into their own language and consider how the quote is working with their argument. You may first want to examine an assigned text and, as a whole class or in smaller groups, analyze the author’s use of quotations and other outside sources. Try to push students to  decipher the different ways that sources can be used to support a point (using a text like Joseph Harris’s or FYW’s webpage Why Quote? can give students a vocabulary or starting point for discussion). From here, get a volunteer from class (or choose a student ahead of time) and project or distribute a paragraph from their essay. As a class, discuss how the writer could revise their quotations and citations. Then, have students turn to their own texts and work on the way that they use sources in their projects.

Paired Read-Alouds

Pair students and have them read each other’s paper aloud. Paired read-alouds can be used at different points in the drafting process for different purposes. With a rough draft, you can ask: Does the new set of eyes see more places to push the project further? Are there places where the evidence is unclear? Where might more textual support be needed? At a more polished stage, read-alouds can highlight fluency, sentence structure, and grammatical errors.

Useful for working through difficult readings, reverse outlines are also beneficial to students during drafting. Have students reverse outline their own papers, identifying the individual aims and rhetorical moves of each paragraph, and then have them reflect on what they have noticed. Or have students swap papers and reverse outline their peers’ papers, and then return the papers to their original authors. The students could also reflect on what they notice from their peers’ rendering of their projects. In any case, at the end of the activity, give students time to write about and reflect on what the reverse outline has revealed to them about their work and how they’ll use it to move forward with their draft.

For a more multimodal approach, students can create their reverse outlines using Prezi, construction paper, or the like.

Creating Revision Plans from Feedback

Students don’t always know what to do with comments after they receive your feedback or feedback from peers, so it might be useful to build in time for them to prioritize and plan. Have students look at a sample paper with comments first; then engage them in a discussion of how to prioritize and use feedback. Afterward, give them the opportunity to reflect on their own feedback and write a revision plan.

If you’re doing a portfolio in your course or wish for students to document their writing process, you may want to collect and respond to their revision plans or stress that they keep track of these documents.

Writing About Their Own Writing

At any stage in the writing process, ask your students to reflect on the writing that they have done so far, using the following prompts for in-class, informal, ungraded writing: What personal investment do you have in this issue? Why does your argument matter? What counter-interpretations might work against your emerging claims? What are you struggling with most as you approach the draft? How does how you are writing aid (or complicate) your answers to these first questions? If you choose to, you can discuss these writings as a class or in small groups.

Representing the Writing Process

Have students use markers, pencils, Play-Doh, pipe cleaners—check out the art cart in the FYW office—to draw, make, or sculpt a representation of a certain part of the writing process (perhaps right after students have completed an assignment). Afterward, give them a few minutes to write about their representation. In small groups, students can share their various processes. Doing so allows students to unpack what approaches and strategies worked—it also gives them a chance to see how others approached a similar task.

Creative Synthesis

Near the end of the semester, have students read over their major essays and extract one or two “keywords” or important themes from each. (For instance, if a student wrote an essay about capitalist values in Maus, one keyword from that essay might be “capitalism,” or “homo economicus.”) In a new document, have students write their lists of keywords at the top of the page. They should then write a brief story in class that in some way touches on each of these themes.

It’s not necessary to use the word itself—so, if one keyword is “masculinity,” the student doesn’t actually have to say “masculinity” somewhere in the story, so long as the idea is present. For example, if a student’s keywords were “capitalism,” “dystopia,” and “masculinity,” the student might write a story about a young man in a dystopian society who, in order to prove his masculinity and support his paralyzed father, has to engage in gladiatorial combat. Maybe this gladiatorial combat is televised, with pauses in the fighting for advertisements for men’s deodorant, etc.

“One-Minute Papers”

At the end of a class session, you can ask your students to write short responses to questions like: What is the one big idea or new insight you’ve taken from today’s class? What is still confusing for you? This will help students practice metacognition by allowing them to consider what in their thinking has changed and what remains a challenge for them moving forward.

Writing Across Technology

Key Terms and Infographics

Students can mine a text for key terms and concepts in groups. After discussing the terms and concepts in a larger group, the small groups can then use Piktochart or Canva to create an infographic to help explain how a specific term is being used in a text. This exercise can be framed with the following question: Assuming that your audience is future students in this class, how can you visually explain how the author is using [a particular key term]?

Critical and Creative Captioning

Practice using captioning software for videos, such as with YouTube or Amara. Students can consider how captioning functions rhetorically and depends on concepts of audience, context, and purpose. This activity can be used as students work on their own videos (such as a Concept in 60 video), or students can work in groups to caption sections of a short video in class. (Movie trailers often work pretty well here.)

Cover Design

Ask students to use the design concepts from The Academic Writer to analyze the design of a visual text—a book cover works well. After evaluating the effectiveness of the design choices in the text, let students work in groups to propose alternative covers. This can be done on computers (using software like Word, PowerPoint, GIMP, or Illustrator) or with paper and markers. Students can then present their designs (explaining why these designs are effective) and vote on the elements they’d like to include in a reprint of the text.

Electronic Discussion

If all students have access to bring-your-own personal technology (laptops, smartphones, or other mobile devices with internet access), discussions can become hybrid spaces with the use of platforms like Twitter, Padlet, and Socrative. Allowing students to participate in discussions through technology can help second-language writers, students who are shy, and students with disabilities—and can, in fact, help all students contribute in more thoughtful ways, because writing an answer allows for more time to think. The platform being used can be projected, giving everyone easy access to responses. The instructor can choose to read these responses aloud to focus and direct the discussion or ask students to take a couple of moments to quietly compose responses to spark new avenues of inquiry.

Screencasting the Writing Process

Have students use a program like Kaltura or PowerPoint to screencast their writing as they work through a draft at home. Once they have turned in the essay, have students bring the video to class to watch individually. As they watch their videos, have them describe what’s happening and take notes on what they’re noticing about how they write. Afterward, have them discuss in groups what they noticed. After the discussion, have students review their notes and reflect on what went well and what could be worked on as they proceed in their next assignment.

Recorded Elevator Pitches

Sometimes students work through ideas best when they talk about them aloud. When they’re early in the writing or research process, have them pitch their developing ideas to each other in a minute or less and use their smartphones to record their pitch. At the end of the pitch, peers should provide feedback. As students move on to the next partner, they should incorporate the previous partner’s feedback (or make revisions based on their own observations). At the end, have students listen to their pitches and reflect on what changed from one pitch to the next.

  • Grades 6-12
  • School Leaders

Black History Month for Kids: Google Slides, Resources, and More!

10 Creative Writing Activities That Help Students Tell Their Stories

Lower the stakes and help them get started.

Share your story message written on three post it notes

“I don’t have a story. There’s nothing interesting about my life!” Sound familiar? I don’t know a teacher who hasn’t heard students say this. When we ask our students to write about themselves, they get stuck. We know how important it is for them to tell their own stories. It’s how we explore our identities and keep our histories and cultures alive. It can even be dangerous when we don’t tell our stories (check out this Ted Talk given by novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and share it with your students for more on that). Storytelling is essential for every subject, not just English Language Arts; students dive deeper and engage when they practice thinking about how their own stories intersect with historical events, civic engagement, and the real-world implications of STEM. These 10 creative writing activities can work in every subject you teach:

Here are 10 of our favorite story telling activities that inspire students:

1. write an “i am from” poem.

A students I Am From creative writing activities

Students read the poem “I am From” by George Ella Lyon. Then, they draft a poem about their own identity in the same format Lyon used. Finally, students create a video to publish their poems. We love this one because the mentor text gives a clear structure and example that students can follow. But the end result is truly unique, just like their story.

2. Design a social media post to share an important memory

collage of historical images creative writing activities

How can you use your unique perspective to tell a story? We want our students to learn that they are truly unique and have stories that only they can tell that other people want to hear or could relate to or learn from. In this activity, students watch two Pixar-in-a-Box videos on Khan Academy to learn about storytelling and perspective. Then, they identify an interesting or poignant memory and design a social media post.

3. Create an image using a line to chart an emotional journey

fun writing exercises for college students

How do you show emotion using a single line? In this activity, students watch a Pixar in a Box video on Khan Academy to learn about how lines communicate character, emotion, and tension. Then they experiment with these aspects as they write their story. We love using this for pre-writing and to help students explore their story arc. Also, for students who love to draw or learn visually, this can help them get started telling their story and show them that there are many different ways to tell a story.

4. Tell the story behind your name

fun writing exercises for college students

Sharing the story behind our name is a way to tell a story about ourselves, our culture, and our family history. And if there isn’t a story behind it, we can talk about how we feel about it and describe what it sounds like. In this activity, students use video to introduce themselves to their classmates by discussing the origin of their name. This project asks students to connect their names (and identities) to their personal and familial histories and to larger historical forces. If you’re looking for a mentor text that pairs well with this one, try “My Name” by Sandra Cisneros .

5. Develop a visual character sketch

Give students the time to create a character sketch of themselves. This will help them see how they fit into their story. In this lesson, students create a visual character sketch. They’ll treat themselves like a character and learn to see themselves objectively.

6. Create a webpage to outline the story of your movie

fun writing exercises for college students

Building a story spine is a great way to show students how to put the parts of their story in an order that makes sense. It’s an exercise in making choices about structure. We like this activity because it gives students a chance to see different examples of structure in storytelling. Then, they consider the question: how can you use structure to set your story up for success? Finally, they design and illustrate an outline for their story.

7. Respond to a variety of writing prompts

Sometimes our students get stuck because they aren’t inspired or need a different entry point into telling their story. Give them a lot of writing prompts that they can choose from. Pass out paper and pencils. Set a timer for fifteen minutes. Then, write 3-4 writing prompts on the board. Encourage students to free-write and not worry about whether their ideas are good or right. Some of our favorite prompts to encourage students to tell their story are:

  • I don’t know why I remember…
  • What’s your favorite place and why?
  • What objects tell the story of your life?
  • What might surprise someone to learn about you?

8. Create a self-portrait exploring identity and self-expression

fun writing exercises for college students

Part of what makes writing your own story so difficult for students is that they are just building their identity. In this activity, students explore how they and others define their identity. What role does identity play in determining how they are perceived and treated by others? What remains hidden and what is shown publicly?

9. Film a video to share an important story from your life

fun writing exercises for college students

Encourage students to think about how to tell the story of a day they faced their fears. Students consider the question: How can you use different shot types to tell your story? They watch a video from Pixar in a Box on Khan Academy to learn about different camera shots and their use in storytelling. Then, they use Adobe Spark Post or Photoshop and choose three moments from their story to make into shots. We love using this to help students think about pace and perspective. Sometimes what we leave out of our story is just as important as what we include.

10. Try wild writing

Laurie Powers created a process where you read a poem and then select two lines from it. Students start their own writing with one of those lines. Anytime that they get stuck, they repeat their jump-off line again. This is a standalone activity or a daily writing warm-up, and it works with any poem. We love how it lowers the stakes. Can’t think of anything to write? Repeat the jump-off line and start again. Here are some of our favorite jump-off lines:

  • The truth is…
  • Some people say…
  • Here’s what I forgot to tell you…
  • Some questions have no answers…
  • Here’s what I’m afraid to write about…

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43 Creative Writing Exercises

Creative writing exercises for adults

Welcome to our treasure trove of creative writing exercises. Get inspired with new story ideas, have fun mastering essential writing skills, and find everything you need whether you're flying solo, or running each exercise with a group.

Table of contents

A note on running exercises remotely

A letter from your character to you, the opening sentence, make your protagonist act, overcoming writer's block, writing character arcs, sewing seeds in your writing, giving feedback to authors, the five senses, show don't tell, world building.

Easy gossiping exercise

Degrees of Emotion Game

Three birds, one line, blind date on valentine's day (exercise for adults), a success (works best for online groups), your dream holiday, time travel - child, adult, senior, focus on faces.

Onomatopeai, rhyme and alliteration

The alphabet story - creating a story as a group

A question or two, murder mystery game, the obscure movie exercise, how to hint at romantic feelings, a novel idea, creative writing prompts, creative story cards / dice, alternative christmas story, murder mystery mind map.

New Year's resolutions for a fictional character

Stephen King - Using verbs & nouns in fiction

It's the end of the world

Other Content:

7 Editing exercises  (for your first draft)

How to run the writing exercises

I run a  Creative Writing Meetup  for adults and teens in Montpellier or online every week. We start with a 5 to 20 minute exercise, followed by an hour and a half of silent writing, during which each participant focuses on their own project. Every exercise listed below has been run with the group and had any kinks ironed out.  Where the exercises specify a number of people, if you have a larger group, simply split everyone up into smaller groups as appropriate.

The solo exercises are ideal to help stimulate your mind before working on a larger project, to overcome writer’s block, or as stand-alone prompts in their own right. If a solo exercise inspires you and you wish to use it with a larger group, give every member ten minutes to complete the exercise, then ask anyone who wishes to share their work to do so in groups of 3 or 4 afterwards.

Looking for something quick to fire your imagination? Check out these  creative writing prompts for adults .

While you can enjoy the exercises solo, they are also designed for online writing groups using Zoom, WhatsApp, or Discord.

If you're running a group and follow a ' Shut Up and Write ' structure, I recommend connecting on WhatsApp (for example) first, doing the exercise together, sharing writing samples as needed. Next, write in silence for an hour and a half on your own projects, before reconnecting for a brief informal chat at the end. This works great with small remote groups and is a way to learn new techniques, gain online support, and have a productive session.

If you have a larger online group, it's worth looking into Zoom, as this has a feature called  Breakout Rooms . Breakout Rooms let you split different writers into separate rooms, which is great for group activities. The free version of Zoom has a 40 minute limit, which can be restrictive, but Zoom Pro is well worth it if you're going to use it on a regular basis. In my experience, Zoom has a better connection than Facebook chat or WhatsApp.

Letter from fictional character to the author

Spend ten minutes writing a letter from a character in your novel to  you , the author, explaining why you should write about them. This serves three purposes:

  • As you write, it helps you get into the mindset of the character. Ask yourself how they would language this letter and what they would consider important.
  • It's motivating to know that your character wants you to write about them.
  • If your goal is to publish a complete work of fiction one day, whether it be a novel, a play or a movie script, you will want to contact an agent or publisher. This helps you practice in an easy, safe way.

If you're doing this exercise with a group of teens or adults, and some of the group haven't already started working on their masterpiece, they can instead choose any fictional novel they love. Ask participants to imagine that a character within the book wrote to the author in the first place to ask them to write their story. How did they plead their case?

First sentence of books

The opening sentence has to grab the reader's attention and make them want to keep reading. Many authors achieve this by starting with an action scene. In modern literature, it's best to avoid starting with someone waking up, or a description of the weather. In this exercise the task is to write an opening sentence either to a book you're currently writing, or simply for an imaginary piece of literature.  Here are some of my favourite opening sentences to get you going:

It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.

George Orwell , 1984

The Golem's life began in the hold of a steamship.

Helene Wecker , The Golem and the Djinni

All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.

Leo Tolstoy , Anna Karenina

It wasn't a very likely place for disappearances, at least at first glance.

Diana Gabaldon , Outlander

You better not never tell nobody but God.

Alice Walker , The Color Purple

The cage was finished.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez ,  Balthazar’s Marvelous Afternoon

Imagine that you are living your life out of order: Lunch before breakfast, marriage before your first kiss.

Audrey Niffenegger ,  The Time Traveler's Wife

Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun.

Douglas Adams ,  The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

There are a plethora of ways you can start a book, however two ways that help engage the reader immediately are:

  • Set the scene in as few words as possible, so the reader immediately knows what's happening and wants to know what happens next.  The scene must be original and create a vivid image in the reader's mind.
  • Surprise the reader with an unusual event or usual point of view.

Spend 5 minutes working on your own opening sentence, then share it with the other participants.

Exercise for 2 writers, or can be done solo.

Make your characters act

According to John Gardner:

"Failure to recognise that the central character must act, not simply be acted upon, is the single most common mistake in the fiction of beginners."

Spend 5 minutes writing a scene where the protagonist is passive in a conversation with one other character. It could be that the other character says something dramatic, and the protagonist just listens, or it could be anything else of your choice!

Once the 5 minutes is up, swap papers with another writer. If you're using Zoom, or working online, send it to each other in a private chat. Now the other person spends 8 minutes rewriting the scene to make the protagonist as active as possible. This might include:

Read both scenes together. Which makes you want to keep on reading?

If you're doing this as a solo writing exercise, simply complete both parts yourself.

  • Showing the emotion this evokes.
  • Getting them to disagree with the other character.
  • Showing how they respond physically (whether it's as a physical manifestation of how they feel, or a dramatic gesture to make a point).

Overcoming writer's block

Are you staring at a blank page or stuck for any story ideas? This exercise will help anyone who's experiencing writer's block with a particular piece of writing. If this isn't you, that's great, others will value your input!

If anyone has a particular scene they're stuck with (a pool of blood on the floor they have no explanation for, a reason why the rich lady just walked into a particular pub, etc.) then at the start of the exercise everyone briefly describes their scenes (if working online with a large group, typing it into the chat might be best). Everyone then chooses one scene to use as a writing prompt to write a short story for 10-15 minutes.

Afterwards, split into small groups if necessary, and read out how you completed someone else's writing prompt. As everyone listens to everyone else's ideas, this can be a wonderful source of inspiration and also improves your writing. As an alternative solo exercise, try free writing. With free writing, simply write as quickly as you can on the topic without editing or censoring yourself - just let your creative juices flow. If you're not sure what happens next, brainstorm options on the page, jot down story ideas, or just put, "I don't know what happens next." Keep going and ideas will come.

Character arc

There are several different types of character arc in a novel, the 3 most common being:

For this exercise choose either a positive or negative character arc. Spend 8 minutes writing a scene from the start of a novel, then 8 minutes writing a scene towards the end of a novel showing how the character has developed between the two points. Don't worry about including how the character has changed, you can leave that to the imagination.

The point here is to capture the essence of a character, as they will be the same, but show their development.

  • Positive  - Where a character develops and grows during the novel. Perhaps they start unhappy or weak and end happy or powerful.
  • Negative  - Where a character gets worse during a novel. Perhaps they become ill or give in to evil tendencies as the novel progresses.
  • Flat  - In a flat character arc the character themself doesn't change much, however the world around them does. This could be overthrowing a great injustice, for example.

Sewing seeds in writing

In this exercise, we will look at how to sew seeds. No, not in your garden, but in your story. Seeds are the tiny hints and indicators that something is going on, which influence a reader's perceptions on an often unconscious level. They're important, as if you spring a surprise twist on your readers without any warning, it can seem unbelievable. Sew seeds that lead up to the event, so the twists and turns are still surprising, but make intuitive sense. Groups : Brainstorm major plot twists that might happen towards the end of the novel and share it in a Zoom chat, or on pieces of paper. Choose one twist each. Individuals : Choose one of the following plot twists:   -  Your friend is actually the secret son of the king.   -  Unreliable narrator - the narrator turns out to be villain.   -  The monster turns out to be the missing woman the narrator is seeking.   -  The man she is about to marry happens to already have a wife and three kids.

Write for ten minutes and give subtle hints as to what the plot twist is. This is an exercise in subtlety. Remember, when the twist occurs, it should still come as a surprise.

Animal exercise

This is a fun writing activity for a small group. You’ve found a magic potion labelled ‘Cat Chat’ and when you drink it, you turn into whichever animal you’re thinking about; but there’s a problem, it also picks up on the brainwaves of other people near you!

Everyone writes down an animal in secret and then reveals it to the other writers.  The spell will turn you into a creature that combines elements of all the animals.  Each person then spends 5 minutes writing down what happens when they drink the potion.

After the 5 minutes is up, everyone shares their story with the other participants.

If you enjoy this exercise, then you may also want to check out our  Fantasy and Sci-Fi writing prompts  full of world building, magic, and character development prompts..

I remember

Joe Brainard wrote a novel called:  I Remember It contains a collection of paragraphs all starting with “I remember”.  This is the inspiration for this exercise, and if you’re stuck for what to write, is a great way to get the mental gears turning.  Simply write “I remember” and continue with the first thing that pops into your head.

Spend 5 minutes writing a short collection of “I remember” stories.

Here are a couple of examples from Joe Brainard’s novel:

“I remember not understanding why people on the other side of the world didn't fall off.”

“I remember waking up somewhere once and there was a horse staring me in the face.”

Giving constructive feedback to authors

If you're running a workshop for more experienced adult authors and have at least an hour, this is a good one to use. This is the longest exercise on this page, but I felt it important enough to include.

Give each author the option to bring a piece of their own work. This should be double spaced and a maximum of 3 pages long. If you're running a workshop where not everyone is likely to bring a manuscript, ask everyone who wants to bring one to print two copies each. If someone forgets but has a laptop with them, the reader can always use their laptop.

Print out a few copies and hand them around to everyone in the workshop of the guide on: 'How to give constructive feedback to writers'

Each author who brought a sample with them then gives them to one other person to review. They write their name on the manuscript in a certain colour pen, then add any comments to it before passing it to a second person who does the same (commenting on the comments if they agree or disagree).

Then allow 5 minutes for everyone to discuss the feedback they've received, ensuring they are giving constructive feedback.

Giovanni Battista Manerius - The Five Senses

Painting by Giovanni Battista Manerius -  The Five Senses

Choose a scene and write it for 5 minutes focusing on one sense, NOT sight. Choose between:

Hearing  Taste Smell Touch

This can be internal as well as external (I heard my heartbeat thudding in my ears, or I smelt my own adrenaline).

After the 5 minutes stop and everyone reads it out loud to each other. Now write for another 5 minutes and continue the other person's story, but do NOT use sight OR the sense they used.

You can use any sense to communicate the essentials, just focus on creating emotions and conveying the story with the specific sense(s).

If you need some writing prompts, here are possible scenes that involve several senses:

  • Climbing through an exotic jungle
  • Having an argument that becomes a fight
  • A cat's morning
  • Talking to someone you're attracted to

2 or 3 people

Show don't tell your story

A lot of writing guides will advise you to, "Show, don't tell". What does this actually mean?

If you want to evoke an emotional reaction from your reader, showing them what is happening is a great way to do so.  You can approach this in several ways:

Split up into pairs and each person writes down a short scene from a story where they "tell" it.  After this, pass the description of the scene to your partner and they then have 5 minutes to rewrite it to "show" what happened.  If there are an odd number of participants, make one group of three, with each person passing their scene clockwise, so everyone has a new scene to show.  After the 5 minutes, for small groups everyone reads their new description to everyone else, or for large groups, each person just reads their new scene to their partner.

  • Avoid internal dialogue (thinking), instead have your protagonist interact with other people, or have a physical reaction to something that shows how s/he feels.  Does their heart beat faster?  Do they notice the smell of their own adrenaline?  Do they step backwards, or lean forwards?
  • Instead of using an adjective like creepy, e.g. "Mary entered the creepy house", show why the house is creepy through description and in the way the protagonist responds - "The light streamed through the filthy skylight, highlighting the decomposing body of a rat resting on top of it.  As Mary stepped instead, she felt a gust of freezing air brush past her, she turned, but there was nothing there..."

Visual writing prompts

World building is the art of conveying the magic of living in a different world, whether it's a spaceship, a medieval castle, a boat, or simply someone's living room. To master world building, it's not necessary to know every intricate detail, rather to convey the experience of what it would be like to live there.

Choose one of the above images as a prompt and spend 10 minutes writing a scene from the perspective of someone who is seeing it for the first time. Now, move your character six months forward and imagine they've spent the last six months living or working there. Write another scene (perhaps with an additional character) using the image as a background, with the events of the scene as the main action.

Click the above image for a close-up.

Gossiping about a character as if they're a friend.

Easy to gossip with friends about a character

Judy Blume says that she tells her family about her characters as if they’re real people. 

Chris Claremont said, "For me, writing the 'X-Men' was easy - is easy. I know these people, they're my friends." 

Today’s exercise has 2 parts. First, spend 5 minutes jotting down some facts about a character you’ve invented that might come up if you were telling your friends about them. Either choose a character in something you’ve already written, or invent one from scratch now.

Answer the questions:

What are they up to? How are they? What would you say if you were gossiping about them?

Then split up into groups of 4 to 6 writers. 2 volunteers from each group then role-play talking about their character as if they were a friend (perhaps another character in the story).  The other participants will role-play a group of friends gossiping about the character behind their back and ask questions. If you don’t know the answer, invent it!

Degrees of emotion

This is based on an acting game, to help actors understand how to perform with different degrees of emotion.

Ask everyone to write the following 4 emotions:

For groups of 5 or less, write down numbers starting with 1 and going up until everyone has a number, then give them out in order. For groups of 6 or more, divide groups into 3's, 4's or 5's.

Each person has to write a scene where the protagonist is alone and is only allowed to say a single word, e.g. "Banana".  The writer with number 1 should write the scene with a very low level of the emotion (e.g. happiness), number 2 increases the intensity a bit and the highest number writes a scene with the most intense emotion you can possibly imagine.

Once each writer has written about happiness, rotate the numbers one or two spaces, then move onto anger, then fear, then sadness.

It can help to give everyone numbers showing the intensity of the emotions to write about at the start of the exercise, in which case you may wish to print either the Word or PDF file, then use the ones corresponding to 3, 4 or 5 writers.

PDF

Everyone shares their scene with the other course participants.

Kill three birds with one stone

The first paragraph of a surprising number of best-selling novels serves multiple purposes. These are to:

Nearly every chapter in a novel also serves all three purposes. Instead of establishing a goal though, the protagonist either moves towards it, or encounters an obstacle that hinders them from achieving it.

Some books manage to meet all three purposes with their opening lines, for example:  

Mr and Mrs Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.

J.K. Rowling ,  Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone  

A little more than one hundred days into the fortieth year of her confinement, Dajeil Gelian was visited in her lonely tower overlooking the sea by an avatar of the great ship that was her home.

Iain M. Banks ,  Excession  

"We should start back," Gared urged as the woods began to grow dark around them.

George R.R. Martin ,  A Game of Thrones

For this exercise write a sentence or short paragraph that serves all three purposes. If you're already writing a novel, then see if you can do this for the first line in a chapter. If not, choose any combination from the following table:

  • Establish a goal
  • Set the scene
  • Develop a character

Valentine's Day Book

In pairs one writer spends a minute or two describing a character they're writing about, or alternatively they can describe a celebrity or someone from a work of fiction.  The next writer then describes their character.

The story is that these 2 characters (or in my case, person and alien, as I'm writing a sci-fi) have accidentally ended up on a blind date with each other. Perhaps the waiter seated them in the wrong location, perhaps it's an actual blind date, or perhaps they met in some other fashion the writers can determine.

Now spend 10 minutes discussing what happens next!

Winning a race

This exercise works best for online groups, via Zoom, for example.  The instructions to give are:

"In a few words describe a success in your life and what it felt like to achieve it. It can be a small victory or a large one."

Share a personal example of your own (mine was watching my homeschooled sons sing in an opera together).

"Once you have one (small or large), write it in the chat.

The writing exercise is then to choose someone else's victory to write about for 10 minutes, as if it was the end of your own book.

If you want to write for longer, imagine how that book would start. Write the first part of the book with the ending in mind."

This is great for reminding people of a success in their lives, and also helps everyone connect and discover something about each other.

Dream holiday in France

You’re going on a dream holiday together, but always disagree with each other. To avoid conflict, rather than discuss what you want to do, you’ve decided that each of you will choose a different aspect of the holiday as follows:

Decide who gets to choose what at random. Each of you then writes down your dream holiday destination/activity/travel/food & clothes in secret.  Next spend 5 minutes discussing your dream holiday and add any other details you’d like to include, particularly if you’re passionate about doing something in real life.

Finally, everyone spends another 5 minutes writing down a description of the holiday, then shares it with the others.

  • Choose where you’ll be going – your favourite holiday destination.
  • Choose what your main fun activity will be on the holiday.
  • Decide what mode of travel you’ll use to get there.
  • If there’s a 4 th  person, choose what you’ll eat on the holiday and what you’ll be wearing.

Writing haiku

A haiku is a traditional Japanese form of non-rhyming poetry whose short form makes it ideal for a simple writing exercise.

They are traditionally structured in 3 lines, where the first line is 5 syllables, the second line is 7 syllables, and the third line is 5 syllables again. Haiku tend to focus on themes of nature and deep concepts that can be expressed simply.

A couple of examples:

A summer river being crossed how pleasing with sandals in my hands! Yosa Buson , a haiku master poet from the 18 th  Century.

And one of mine:

When night-time arrives Stars come out, breaking the dark You can see the most

Martin Woods

Spend up to 10 minutes writing a haiku.  If you get stuck with the 5-7-5 syllable rule, then don’t worry, the overall concept is more important!

See  How to write a haiku  for more details and examples.

Writing a limerick

Unlike a haiku, which is profound and sombre, a limerick is a light-hearted, fun rhyming verse.

Here are a couple of examples:

A wonderful bird is the pelican. His bill can hold more than his beli-can He can take in his beak Food enough for a week But I'm damned if I see how the heli-can.

Dixon Lanier Merritt, 1910

There was a young lady named Bright, Whose speed was far faster than light; She started one day In a relative way, And returned on the previous night.

Arthur Henry Reginald Buller in  Punch,  1923

The 1 st , 2 nd  and 5 th  line all rhyme, as do the 3 rd  and 4 th  line.  The overall number of syllables isn’t important, but the 3 rd  and 4 th  lines should be shorter than the others.

Typically, the 1 st  line introduces the character, often with “There was”, or “There once was”. The rest of the verse tells their story.

Spend 10 minutes writing a limerick.

Adult time travel

Imagine that your future self as an old man/woman travels back in time to meet you, the adult you are today.  Alternatively, you as a child travels forward in time to meet yourself as an adult.  Or perhaps both happen, so the child you, adult you, and senior you are all together at the same time.  In story form write down what happens next.

Participants then share their story with other writers either in small groups, or to the whole group.

Solo exercise

Describing a character

One challenge writers face is describing a character. A common mistake is to focus too much on the physical features, e.g. "She had brown eyes, curly brown hair and was five foot six inches tall."

The problem with this is it doesn't reveal anything about the character's personality, or the relationship between your protagonist and the character. Your reader is therefore likely to quickly forget what someone looks like.  When describing characters, it's therefore best to:

Here are three examples of character descriptions that leave no doubt how the protagonist feels.

“If girls could spit venom, it'd be through their eyes.” S.D. Lawendowski,  Snapped

"And Ronan was everything that was left: molten eyes and a smile made for war." Maggie Stiefvater,  The Dream Thieves

"His mouth was such a post office of a mouth that he had a mechanical appearance of smiling." Charles Dickens

Spend 5 minutes writing a character introduction that is animated, uses metaphors or similes and involves your protagonist.

If working with a group, then form small groups of 3 or 4 and share your description with the rest of the group.

  • Animate them  - it's rare that someone's sitting for a portrait when your protagonist first meets them and whether they're talking or walking, it's likely that they're moving in some way.
  • Use metaphors or similes  - comparing physical features to emotionally charged items conjures both an image and a sense of who someone is.
  • Involve your protagonist  - if your protagonist is interacting with a character, make it personal.  How does your protagonist view this person?  Incorporate the description as part of the description.
  • Only give information your protagonist knows  - they may know if someone is an adult, or a teenager, but they won't know that someone is 37 years old, for example.

Onomatopeai, rhyme and alliteration

Onomatopeai, rhyme or alliteration.

Today's session is all about sound.

Several authors recommend reading your writing out loud after you've written it to be sure it sounds natural.   Philip Pullman  even goes as far as to say:

"When I’m writing, I’m more conscious of the sound, actually, than the meaning. I know what the rhythm of the sentence is going to be before I know what the words are going to be in it."

For today's exercise, choose the name of a song and write for 10 minutes as if that's the title for a short story. Focus on how your writing sounds and aim to include at least one onomatopoeia, rhyme or alliteration.  At the end of the 10 minutes, read it out loud to yourself, or to the group.

Alliterations

An alliteration example from Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”

The fair breeze blew, the white foam flew, The furrow followed free; We were the first that ever burst Into that silent sea.

Onomatopoeias

Buzz, woof, quack, baa, crash, purr, beep, belch,...

alphabet story

This is a novel way to write a story as a group, one word at a time.  The first person starts the story that begins with any word starting with “A”, the next person continues the story with a word starting with “B”, and so on.

Keep going round until you have completed the alphabet.  Ideally it will all be one sentence, but if you get stuck, start a new sentence.  Don’t worry if it doesn’t make complete sense!

It can be tricky to remember the alphabet when under pressure, so you may wish to print it out a couple of times, so the storytellers can see it if they need to, this is particularly helpful if you have dyslexics in the group.

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Here’s an example of an alphabet story:

A Band Can Dance Each Friday, Ghostly Hauntings In Jail Kill Lucky Men, Nobody Or Perhaps Quiet Rats, Still That Unifies Villains Who X-Ray Your Zebras.

As I mentioned, it doesn’t need to make sense!

Small or large groups

1 or 2 questions

The standard format in our group is a short writing exercise followed by an hour and a half of silent writing on our projects.

At one point I felt like we'd done a lot of small group exercises, and wanted to gain an insight into what everyone was working on, so we did the following exercise instead:

Go round the table and ask everyone to briefly talk about their writing.  Each person then asks one or two yes/no questions.

Everyone responds either by raising their hand for 'yes' or shaking their heads for 'no'. You can also leap up and down to indicate a very strong 'yes'.

Questions can be about anything, and you can use them either to help guide your writing or to help find other people in the group who have similar interests.

Here are some random examples you might ask:

This works best when you give participants some advance notice, so they have time to think of a question.

  • I want to write a romance novel and am considering setting it in Paris, a traditional romantic setting, or Liverpool which is a less obvious setting. Who thinks Liverpool would be best?
  • I need to know more about the life of a farmer. Has anyone got farming experience who I can interview in exchange for a drink?
  • My character gets fired and that night goes back to his office and steals 35 computers. Does that sound realistic as the premise of a story?

Groups of 3 or 4

Murder mystery

This exercise takes 20-30 minutes and allows participants to create a murder mystery outline together.

Phase 1 (3 minutes)

Phase 2 (10 minutes).

Each person then writes a police report as if they are either describing the scene of the crime, or recording the notes from their interview with a single suspect:

Write the following:

Write the following (from the perspective of the investigator):

Phase 3 (5 minutes)

See more ideas on  creating murder mystery party games

  • Split into groups of 3 or 4.
  • Decide as a group where the murder occurs (e.g. the opera house, a bar, a casino).
  • Decide one person who will write the details of the victim and the murder itself.  Everyone else writes the details of one suspect each.
  • The ‘victim author’ then invents a few extra details about the scene of the crime, who the victim was (a teenage punk, an adult opera singer, etc.) and the murder weapon and summarises this to the others.
  • 1 line description of the victim.
  • When they were last seen by a group of witnesses (and what they were doing).
  • How the murder occurred in more detail based on the evidence available.
  • 1 line description of the suspect.
  • What they said during the interview (including what they claim to have doing when the murder occurs).
  • A possible motivation (as determined by the police from other witnesses).
  • Each person reads out their police reports to the other members of their small group.
  • As a group, decide who the murderer was and what actually happened.

Obscure movie

Pick a famous movie and spend 5 minutes writing a scene from it from an unusual perspective.  Your aim is to achieve a balance between being too obscure and making it too obvious.  Feel free to add internal dialogue.

At the end of the 5 minutes, everyone reads their movie scene to the others and all the other participants see if they can guess what the movie is.

How to hint at romantic feelings

Write a scene with two people in a group, where you hint that one is romantically interested in the other, but the feelings aren’t reciprocated.

The goal of this exercise is to practice subtlety. Imagine you are setting a scene for the future where the characters feelings will become more important. Choose a situation like a work conference, meeting with a group of friends, etc. How do you indicate how the characters feel without them saying it in words?

Some tips for hinting at romantic feelings:

  • Make the characters nervous and shy.
  • Your protagonist leans forward.
  • Asks deeper questions and listens intently.
  • Finds ways to be close together.
  • Mirrors their gestures.
  • Gives lots of compliments.
  • Makes eye contact, then looks away.
  • Other people seem invisible to your protagonist.

Novel idea

Take it in turns to tell everyone else about a current project you’re working on (a book, screenplay, short story, etc.)

The other writers then brainstorm ideas for related stories you could write, or directions your project could take.  There are no right or wrong suggestions and the intention is to focus on big concepts, not little details.

This whole exercise takes around 15 minutes.

Exercise for groups of 3-5

Creative writing

If you're in larger group, split up into groups of 3 or 4 people.

Everyone writes the first line of a story in the Zoom chat, or on paper. Other people can then choose this line as a writing prompt.

For this exercise:

Once everyone's written a prompt, each author chooses a prompt (preferably someone eles's, but it can be your own if you feel really inspired by it.)  Then write for 10 minutes using this prompt. See if you can reveal who the protagonist is, what their motivation is (it can be a small motivation for a particular scene, it doesn't have to be a huge life goal), and introduce at least one new character.

Take turns reading out your stories to each other.

  • Write in the first person.
  • Have the protagonist interacting with an object or something in nature.
  • The challenge is to create intrigue that makes the reader want to know more with just a single line.
  • Say who the protagonist is.
  • Reveal their motivation.
  • Introduce any other characters

Creative story cards for students

Cut up a piece of paper and write one word on each of the pieces of paper, as follows:

Give each participant a couple of pieces of paper at random.  The first person says the first sentence of a story and they must use their first word as part of that sentence.  The second person then continues the story and must include their word in it, and so on.  Go round the group twice to complete the story.

You can also do this creative writing exercise with story dice, your own choice of words, or by asking participants to write random words down themselves, then shuffling all the cards together.

Alternative Christmas Story

Every Christmas adults tell kids stories about Santa Claus. In this exercise you write a Christmas story from an alternative dimension.

What if every Christmas Santa didn't fly around the world delivering presents on his sleigh pulled by reindeer? What if gnomes or aliens delivered the presents? Or perhaps it was the gnomes who are trying to emulate the humans? Or some other Christmas tradition entirely that we humans have never heard of!

Group writing exercise

If you're working with a group, give everyone a couple of minutes to write two possible themes for the new Christmas story. Each theme should be 5 words or less.

Shuffle the paper and distribute them at random. If you're working online, everyone types the themes into the Zoom or group chat. Each writer then spends 10 minutes writing a short story for children based on one of the two themes, or their own theme if they really want to.

If working alone, choose your own theme and spend 15 minutes writing a short story on it. See if you can create the magic of Christmas from another world!

Murder Mystery mind map

In a murder mystery story or courtroom drama, there's often conflicting information and lots of links between characters. A mind map is an ideal way to illustrate how everything ties together.

Split into groups of 3 or 4 people each and place a blank piece of A3 paper (double the size of A4) in the middle of each group. Discuss between you who the victim is and write their name in the middle of the piece of paper. Then brainstorm information about the murder, for example:

Feel free to expand out from any of these, e.g. to include more information on the different characters involved.

The idea is that  everyone writes at the same time!   Obviously, you can discuss ideas, but anyone can dive in and write their ideas on the mind map.

  • Who was the victim? (job, appearance, hobbies, etc.)
  • Who did the victim know?
  • What were their possible motivations?
  • What was the murder weapon?
  • What locations are significant to the plot?

New Year’s resolutions for a fictional character

List of ideas for a fictional character

If you’re writing a piece of fiction, ask yourself how your protagonist would react to an everyday situation. This can help you to gain a deeper insight into who they are.

One way to do this is to imagine what their New Year’s resolutions would be.

If completing this exercise with a group, limit it to 3 to 5 resolutions per person. If some participants are historical fiction or non-fiction writers, they instead pick a celebrity and either write what their resolutions  will  be, or what their resolutions  should  be, their choice.

Verb Noun Fiction Exercise (Inspired by Stephen King)

List of ideas for a fictional character

Stephen King said, "I believe the road to hell is paved with adverbs, and I will shout it from the rooftops."

He also said, "Take any noun, put it with any verb, and you have a sentence. It never fails. Rocks explode. Jane transmits. Mountains float. These are all perfect sentences. Many such thoughts make little rational sense, but even the stranger ones (Plums deify!) have a kind of poetic weight that’s nice."

In this fiction writing exercise, start by brainstorming (either individually or collectively) seven verbs on seven different pieces of paper. Put those aside for later. Now brainstorm seven nouns. Randomly match the nouns and verbs so you have seven pairs. Choose a pair and write a piece of fiction for ten minutes. Avoid using any adverbs.

It’s the end of the world

End of the world

It’s the end of the world!  For 5 minutes either:

If working as a team, then after the 5 minutes is up each writer reads their description out to the other participants.

  • Describe how the world’s going to end, creating evocative images using similes or metaphors as you wish and tell the story from a global perspective, or
  • Describe how you spend your final day before the world is destroyed.  Combine emotion and action to engage the reader.

7 Editing Exercises

For use after your first draft

Editing first draft

I’ve listened to a lot of masterclasses on writing by successful authors and they all say variants of your first draft won’t be good and that’s fine. Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman summarise it the best:

“The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.”  

Terry Pratchett

“For me, it’s always been a process of trying to convince myself that what I’m doing in a first draft isn’t important. One way you get through the wall is by convincing yourself that it doesn’t matter. No one is ever going to see your first draft. Nobody cares about your first draft. And that’s the thing that you may be agonising over, but honestly, whatever you’re doing can be fixed… For now, just get the words out. Get the story down however you can get it down, then fix it.”

Neil Gaiman

Once you’ve written your first draft, it will need editing to develop the plot, enhance the characters, and improve each scene in a myriad of ways – small and large. These seven creative editing exercises are designed to help with this stage of the process.

The First Sentence

Read the first paragraph of the novel, in particular the first sentence. Does it launch the reader straight into the action? According to  On Writing and Worldbuilding  by Timothy Hickson,  “The most persuasive opening lines are succinct, and not superfluous. To do this, it is often effective to limit it to a single central idea… This does not need to be the most important element, but it should be a central element that is interesting.” Ask yourself what element your opening sentence encapsulates and whether it’s the best one to capture your readers’ attention.

Consistency

Consistency is crucial in creative writing, whether it’s in relation to location, objects, or people.

It’s also crucial for personality, emotions and motivation.

Look at scenes where your protagonist makes an important decision. Are their motivations clear? Do any scenes force them to choose between two conflicting morals? If so, do you explore this? Do their emotions fit with what’s happened in previous scenes?

As you edit your manuscript, keep the characters’ personality, emotions and motivation in mind. If their behaviour is inconsistent, either edit it for consistency, or have someone comment on their strange behaviour or be surprised by it. Inconsistent behaviour can reveal that a character is keeping a secret, or is under stress, so characters don’t always need to be consistent. But when they’re not, there has to be a reason.  

Show Don’t Tell One

This exercise is the first in  The Emotional Craft of Fiction  by Donald Maass. It’s a writing guide with a plethora of editing exercises designed to help you reenergize your writing by thinking of what your character is feeling, and giving you the tools to make your reader feel something.  

  • Select a moment in your story when your protagonist is moved, unsettled, or disturbed… Write down all the emotions inherent in this moment, both obvious and hidden.
  • Next, considering what he is feeling, write down how your protagonist can act out. What is the biggest thing your protagonist can do? What would be explosive, out of bounds, or offensive? What would be symbolic? … Go sideways, underneath, or ahead. How can your protagonist show us a feeling we don’t expect to see?
  • Finally, go back and delete all the emotions you wrote down at the beginning of this exercise. Let actions and spoken words do the work. Do they feel too big, dangerous, or over-the-top? Use them anyway. Others will tell you if you’ve gone too far, but more likely, you haven’t gone far enough.

Show Don’t Tell Two

Search for the following words in your book:

Whenever these words occur, ask yourself if you can demonstrate how your characters feel, rather than simply stating it. For each occasion, can you use physiological descriptors (a racing heart), actions (taking a step backwards) or dialogue to express what’s just happened instead? Will this enhance the scene and engage the reader more?

After The Action

Find a scene where your characters disagree – in particular a scene where your protagonist argues with friends or allies. What happens next?

It can be tempting to wrap up the action with a quick resolution. But what if a resentment lingers and mistrust builds? This creates a more interesting story arc and means a resolution can occur later, giving the character development a real dynamic.

Review how you resolve the action and see if you can stretch out the emotions for a more satisfying read.

Eliminating the Fluff

Ensure that the words used don’t detract from the enormity of the events your character is going through. Can you delete words like, “Quite”, “Little”, or “Rather”? 

Of “Very” Florence King once wrote: “ 'Very' is the most useless word in the English language and can always come out. More than useless, it is treacherous because it invariably weakens what it is intended to strengthen .” Delete it, or replace the word after it with a stronger word, which makes “Very” redundant.

“That,” is another common word used in creative writing which can often be deleted. Read a sentence as is, then reread it as if you deleted, “That”. If the meaning is the same, delete it.

Chapter Endings

When talking about chapter endings, James Patterson said,  “At the end, something has to propel you into the next chapter.”

Read how each of your chapters finish and ask yourself does it either:

  • End on a cliff hanger? (R.L. Stine likes to finish every chapter in this method).
  • End on a natural pause (for example, you’re changing point of view or location).

Review how you wrap up each of your chapters. Do you end at the best point in your story? Can you add anticipation to cliff hangers? Will you leave your readers wanting more?  

The editing exercises are designed to be completed individually.

With the others, I've always run them as part of a creative writing group, where there's no teacher and we're all equal participants, therefore I keep any 'teaching' aspect to a minimum, preferring them to be prompts to generate ideas before everyone settles down to do the silent writing. We've recently gone online and if you run a group yourself, whether online or in person, you're welcome to use these exercises for free!

The times given are suggestions only and I normally get a feel for how everyone's doing when time's up and if it's obvious that everyone's still in the middle of a discussion, then I give them longer.  Where one group's in the middle of a discussion, but everyone else has finished, I sometimes have a 'soft start' to the silent writing, and say, "We're about to start the hour and a half of silent writing now, but if you're in the middle of a discussion, feel free to finish it first".

This way everyone gets to complete the discussion, but no-one's waiting for ages.  It's also important to emphasise that there's no wrong answers when being creative.

Still looking for more? Check out these  creative writing prompts , or our dedicated  Sci-Fi and Fantasy creative writing prompts .

If you've enjoyed these creative writing exercises, please share them on social media, or link to them from your blog.

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✍️ 100+ Creative Writing Exercises for Fiction Authors

This curated directory of creative writing exercises was conceived thanks to a collaboration between the top writing blogs of 2024. Use the filters to find and practice specific techniques — and show that blank page who’s boss!

We found 119 exercises that match your search 🔦

The Hammer and the Hatchet

A stranger walks into the general store and buys a hammer, a hatchet, some rope, and an apple. What does he do with them?

Writer's Block

Picket fence.

Describe your house - or the dream house you hope to get some day.

Telephone Directory

It is commonly known that a telephone directory might be the most boring text in the entire world. Here is your challenge: write a page of a telephone directory and figure out SOME way to make it interesting.

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Pick a fiction book from your shelf. Go to page eight and find the eighth sentence on the page. Start with that sentence and write an eight-line poem that connects in some way to your work-in-progress. For instance, write from the POV of a character, or set the poem in a story setting. Don't worry about poetry forms. Just write eight lines of any length that flow and explore some aspect of character, setting, or theme.

  • Why are you grumpy? I have a hangover.
  • Why do you have a hangover? My friend was in a bad accident and I thought he might die?
  • Why did you think he might die? His girlfriend lied to me about how serious the accident was.
  • Why did she lie about that? She's jealous of our relationship.
  • Why? I think she's insecure and has trust issues.

Character Development

The ellen degeneres show.

A talk show is scripted to promote the guest and discuss topics with which the guest is comfortable. Imagine your protagonist on the Ellen Degeneres Show (or The Late Show With Stephen Colbert - whichever show you're familiar with). What questions would be asked of your protagonist? What funny anecdotes would your protagonist share? Write down the reactions of both your protagonist and the host.

  • You could say it began with a phone call."
  • Michael had watched them both for weeks."
  • She remembered the way it was the first time she saw the prison."
  • Midsummer, no time to be in New Orleans."
  • With the dawn came the light."

Thank you to all our contributors: Almost An Author, Alyssa Hollingsworth, Anne R. Allen, Bang2Write, Christopher Fielden, Darcy Pattinson, Elizabeth S. Craig, Flogging The Quill, Grammar Girl Quick and Dirty Tips, Helping Writers Become Authors, Katie McCoach, Lauren Carter, Insecure Writer’s Support Group, Mandy Wallace, NaNoWriMo, Nail Your Novel, Novel Publicity, One Stop For Writers, Pro Writing Aid, PsychWriter, re:Fiction, The Journal, The Writer’s Workshop, Well-Storied, Women On Writing, writing.ie, Writing-World.com!

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Literacy Ideas

Top 7 Narrative Writing Exercises for Students

Narrative Writing Exercises

What are the essential narrative writing skills?

Narrative writing demands a lot from our students.    It requires them not just to come up with a story worth telling but also to develop the necessary skills to make that story come alive through the written word.

No mean feat when we consider the diverse challenges of creating a compelling narrative within the two dimensions of the printed word.

 In this article, we’ll look at some of the most important skills your students will require to excel in narrative writing .

We’ll look at each of these skills in turn.

First, we’ll explore why each skill is important for narrative writing ability.

Then, we’ll suggest an activity or two you can use in the classroom to help your students develop each specific skill.

 Narrative writing Skills covered:

  • Reading Widely
  • Believable Characters
  • Cause and Effect
  • Effective Dialogue
  • Ending Well

A COMPLETE UNIT ON TEACHING NARRATIVE WRITING

narrative writing exercises | narrative writing unit 1 2 | Top 7 Narrative Writing Exercises for Students | literacyideas.com

Teach your students to become skilled story writers with this HUGE   NARRATIVE & CREATIVE STORY WRITING UNIT . Offering a  COMPLETE SOLUTION  to teaching students how to craft  CREATIVE CHARACTERS, SUPERB SETTINGS, and PERFECT PLOTS .

Over 192 PAGES of materials, including:

Engaging students in narrative writing exercises offers a myriad of educational and developmental benefits. Firstly, these exercises cultivate creativity by encouraging students to explore their imagination and construct compelling stories. The process of inventing characters, designing plots, and crafting settings foster a creative mindset that extends beyond the confines of writing, influencing problem-solving and critical thinking skills.

Moreover, narrative writing exercises enhance language proficiency. Students refine their vocabulary, experiment with sentence structure, and learn to express complex ideas coherently. As they construct narratives, students naturally improve their communication skills, both written and verbal.

Narrative Writing Skill 1: Reading Widely

narrative_skills.jpg

This may seem a strange place to start. This article’s about writing skills after all.

Our students’ first experience of the written word is usually through reading. It is through reading well-written texts that they first begin to absorb the rules of language and structure.

After a time, they begin to apply some of the knowledge gained from their reading into their own early attempts at independent writing.

From the early focus on using phonics to decode unfamiliar words to building a diverse and expressive vocabulary, reading is where students begin to develop their writing chops. It’s where they see how it’s done.

Not only can students absorb some of the craft of narrative writing by reading fiction, but reading nonfiction can also serve to enhance their narrative writing too.

Reading nonfiction books helps students to understand the world around them.

This, in turn, helps them to create more plausible fictional worlds as they fill it with details and knowledge drawn from their nonfiction reading.

Suggested Narrative Writing Exercises:

There are many reading strategies to help students to develop higher-level reading skills that will inform their writing of narratives.

It’s impossible to cover everything here, but there are several comprehensive articles on this site-directed specifically at helping students to develop their reading comprehension skills.

However, one simple strategy you can use to assess student understanding of any text is The Retell strategy.

In The Retell , you simply ask the student to retell the story they have just read in their own words.

Obviously, students can’t be expected to recall the entirety of something they’ve read word for word.

Asking them to retell the story forces them to reconstruct the events from memory, put them in order, and express them in their own words. Something they’ll only be able to do if they’ve understood what they’ve read.

Narrative Writing Skill 2: Believable Characters

click to read article

One of the most common failings, when our students write stories, is to people their fictional worlds with flat characters.

You know the types (or stereotypes!) – A square-jawed hunk who can do no wrong, alongside the helpless damsel in distress waiting to be saved.

Save for writing fairy stories and the like, our students should strive to create believable characters that seem to live and breathe inside the pages of their stories.

To do this effectively our students need to do the following 2 things:

●      Create a Backstory

It may not be necessary to share the backstory with their readers, but students should have at least some idea about their main characters’ lives before the events of their narrative.

The backstory goes beyond the details of a physical description. It allows the writer to explore the character’s goals, motivations, and beliefs.

Suggested Narrative Writing Activity:

A simple way to explore a character’s backstory is to have the student write a short biography on the character’s life.

This needn’t be extensive. It could just be in the form of bullet points, for example. The aim here is to provide some depth to the character.

Another effective way to bring depth to a character is for the student to base them on someone famous or someone they know personally.

●      Make Characters Complex

The problem with the impeccable hero or defenseless damsel caricatures is that they don’t correspond to what we know of people in real life.

In real life, we are more than a single characteristic.

In one context we can display characteristics of bravery, while another situation may have our knees knocking.

Real people are complex, flawed, and even contradictory at times.

The simplest way to create complex characters is to make them flawed.

One way to do this is to give them a vice. This won’t necessarily make the character unlikeable by the reader, instead, it will give the character room for growth.

For this activity, organize the students into groups and ask them to list as many vices as they can e.g. arrogance, envy, anger, etc.

Then, challenge the students to come up with various scenarios where these vices can be turned into virtues.

For example, a young girl is very lazy. Her mother gets sick and needs expensive medical treatment. The young girl loves her mother very much. The young girl begins to work very hard. Through a series of ups and downs, she becomes very successful and wealthy and helps her mother.

Now we’ve got the beginnings of a story!

Narrative Writing Skill 3: Cause & Effect

click to read article

To avoid a meandering storyline that rambles aimlessly, students should plan out their narrative before they begin.

The essential elements of a story to consider include:

  • Rising Action
  • Falling Action

A story is a series of events connected by cause and effect. It is this cause and effect that gives meaning to a story. Readers need to know why each event occurs and how it relates to previous events.

A good way to practice cause and effect is to play And Then What?

For this game, organize students into pairs and suggest simple scenarios to them.

For example, A man stands under a tree. He is pacing up and down nervously. He glances at his watch every few seconds.

One student answers the question, “And then what?” by describing what happens next.

When they’ve finished describing the next event, they then ask their partner, “And then what?”.

They repeat this until they’ve worked through the problem, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution.

Narrative Writing Skill 4: Effective Dialogue

writing_dialogue.png

Dialogue can be a fantastic tool and students should learn to use it well.

Beyond the mechanics of structure and punctuation, dialogue should do 3 things:

●      Move the story forward

●      Reveal character

●      Help the reader understand the relationships between characters.

If dialogue doesn’t achieve these 3 things, then it will need revising or deleting entirely.

A common mistake made in dialogue writing is that it goes on too long.

Often, students enjoy writing dialogue but if it is poorly written the reader won’t experience the same level of enjoyment in the reading of it.

To ensure the dialogue is tightly written, students should avoid small talk in their dialogue.

They should also eliminate pointless, long-drawn-out greetings and leave-takings between characters.

They need to get to the point quickly in their dialogue so as not to bore their reader.

It’s also important for students to avoid using dialogue as a means of info-dumping . That is, the Show, Don’t Tell rule is still in effect in dialogue.

Students should avoid the “As you know…” style of crow-barring exposition into the conversation. This makes dialogue sound awkward and unrealistic – this isn’t how people speak.

Dialogue can certainly be used to reveal backstory and character but it must be done subtly.

An excellent way for students to assess how authentic their dialogue sounds is for them to read it aloud when they have finished.

Students should pay attention to how their dialogue feels in their mouths when they speak the words.

Do the words come easily or are they stumbling over phrases?

Real speech is natural and flows. If this isn’t the case, things need to be looked at again.

Narrative Writing Skill 5: Tension

writing_tension.jpg

Tension in a story is what maintains the reader’s interest and keeps them reading right to the end.

Tension is all about anticipation. It causes an emotional response in the reader as they’re drawn into the lives of the characters and become invested in the outcomes of the story’s plot .

There are several ways students can create tension in their stories, these include:

  • Create characters with conflicting goals
  • Raise the stakes for the main character
  • Give the reader more information than the main character
  • Create questions in the reader’s mind.

The ticking clock is one-way that tension can be injected into a story. This is where a story’s timeline is compressed by some sort of deadline.

An excellent twist on the ticking clock idea can be seen in the 90’s movie Speed , where Keanu Reeves’ character must maintain a speed above 50 miles per hour to prevent a booby-trapped bus from exploding.

Organize students into groups for this activity. Challenge them to come up with story scenarios that employ a ticking clock strategy to build tension.

Narrative Writing Skill 6: Themes

writing_themes.jpg

Well-developed themes help the reader to derive meaning from a story. Unlike in most nonfiction text types, in fiction writing themes are usually stated implicitly.

For students to develop themes in their narrative writing, they’ll first need to secure a firm knowledge of what exactly a theme is.

Theme simply refers to the central idea or main topic that is explored in a story.

Common themes for stories include love, revenge, good vs. evil, redemption, courage, and coming of age.

Students will first need to decide what their story is about, thematically-speaking.

They will then need to develop their thematic statement. If the theme refers to what the story is about, the thematic statement refers to what the writer thinks about it.

The theme is what it’s about, the thematic statement is what it means to the writer.

A helpful way for students to begin to understand how to develop themes in their own writing is to get good at identifying them in the work of others.

For this activity, provide the students with a list of well-known fairy tales and fables .

Instruct students to work in groups to identify first the broad theme of each story and then to write a thematic statement expressing the writer’s perspective.

Narrative Writing Skill 7: Ending Well (Conclusions)

writing_a_narrative_conclusion.jpg

Few things can be as frustrating to a reader as an unsatisfying ending. After investing all that time in reading the story, the reader deserves a decent pay-off at the end.

For a student to give themself the best chance to create a satisfying story, they should know the ending from the outset.

This way, every major scene and major event in the story will be informed by a knowledge of the ending yet to come. The story will have drive and direction.

There are lots of competing demands on our attention these days and the ending should justify to the reader the energy they invested in reading the story.

The ending should be well thought out and unrushed. It should be unpredictable, but not absurd.

Ideally, the writer wants the reader to look back over the story and think that they should have seen the ending coming, but didn’t.

Organize students into groups and assign each group a well-known story. Traditional tales, myths, fairy tales, and fables would serve well for this activity.

In their groups, students rewrite their story’s ending together.

The challenge here is to create an ending that differs distinctly from the story’s original ending but still makes sense in relation to the preceding events of the story.

Students present their alternative endings to the class and discuss afterward how effective they think the new ending is when compared to the original ending.

Our Narrative Draws to a Close

As with all types of writing , students should take the time to edit and proofread at the end.

This is particularly true with narrative writing as it not only makes high demands on a student’s technical writing skills but also on their creativity and imagination.

With patience and practice, students will develop the necessary narrative skills to spin a tale that will engage a reader from exposition to resolution.

Teaching narrative writing effectively involves guiding students through the process of crafting engaging stories. Here are five key tips for successful narrative writing instruction:

5 Tips for Teaching Narrative Writing

Model the Writing Process:

  • Demonstrate the steps involved in crafting a narrative by modelling your writing. Share your thought process, decision-making, and revisions. This provides students with a tangible example of how to approach storytelling.

Provide Clear Guidelines and Rubrics:

  • Establish clear expectations for narrative writing assignments. Clearly outline the elements you want students to include, such as well-developed characters, a compelling plot, and descriptive language. Provide a rubric highlighting specific assessment criteria, fostering a better understanding of what constitutes a successful narrative.

Encourage Frequent Peer Review:

  • Foster a collaborative learning environment by incorporating peer review sessions. Encourage students to exchange drafts and provide constructive feedback on each other’s work. Peer review enhances the revision process and allows students to learn from each other’s strengths and challenges.

Incorporate Writing Prompts and Exercises:

  • Use a variety of writing prompts and exercises to stimulate creativity and critical thinking. These can include character development activities, plot-building exercises, or even group storytelling. Diverse prompts help students explore different aspects of narrative writing, preventing monotony and inspiring varied storytelling styles.

Emphasize the Revision Process:

  • Highlight the importance of revision in the writing process. Encourage students to revisit and refine their narratives, focusing on aspects like clarity, coherence, and the incorporation of feedback. By emphasizing revision, students develop a stronger understanding of the iterative nature of writing and the importance of refining their work.

Remember to tailor your teaching approach to the specific needs and skill levels of your students. Creating a supportive and creative environment that values individual expression while providing structured guidance will contribute to the success of your narrative writing instruction.

THE STORY TELLERS BUNDLE OF TEACHING RESOURCES

narrative writing exercises | story tellers bundle 1 | Top 7 Narrative Writing Exercises for Students | literacyideas.com

A MASSIVE COLLECTION of resources for narratives and story writing in the classroom covering all elements of crafting amazing stories. MONTHS WORTH OF WRITING LESSONS AND RESOURCES, including:

  • Skip to main content
  • Skip to ChatBot Assistant
  • Academic Writing
  • Research Writing
  • Critical Reading and Writing
  • Punctuation
  • Writing Exercises
  • ELL/ESL Resources

Practice Exercises: Writing, Reading, Grammar

Practice exercises to review what you have learned and identify any areas that need more focus.   , research writing exercises.

  • Exercise: Can the topic be researched?
  • Exercise: Is the research question too broad or too narrow?
  • Worksheet: Evaluate your own research question
  • Exercise: Choose the best research thesis
  • Exercise: Evaluating sources
  • Exercise : Distinguish between summaries and paraphrases

Critical Reading Exercises

  • Worksheet: Exercise for while you read
  • Worksheet: Authority of the writer
  • Worksheet: Logic of the writer's argument
  • Worksheet: How the writer gets your interest
  • Worksheet: Writer's use of language and style
  • Worksheet: Ideology that informs the text
  • Worksheet: Examining your reactions

Grammar Exercises

  • Exercise 1a: Basic noun-verb agreement
  • Exercise 1b: Advanced noun-verb agreement
  • Exercise 2a: Basic agreement with trick singulars
  • Exercise 2b: Advanced agreement with trick singulars
  • Exercise 3: Agreement when words come between the noun and verb
  • Exercise 4: Noun-pronoun agreement

Punctuation Exercises

  • Exercise 1: Apostrophes
  • Exercise 2: Capitalization
  • Exercise 3a: Basic commas and semicolons

 Documenting Sources

  • Exercise 1: The difference between primary and secondary sources
  • Exercise 2: Sample search
  • Exercise 3: Documenting within the paper - MLA
  • Exercise 4: Documenting within the paper - APA
  • Exercise 5: Documenting within the paper - Turabian
  • Exercise 6: Documenting at end of paper - MLA
  • Exercise 7: Documenting at end of paper - APA
  • Exercise 8: Documenting at end of paper - Turabian
  • Exercise 9: Where to document

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fun writing exercises for college students

55 Creative Writing Activities and Exercises

Creating writing activities

Have you ever heard these questions or statements from your students?

  • I don’t know where to begin.
  • How can I make my story interesting?
  • I’m just not creative.
  • What should my story be about?

If so, you won’t want to miss these creative writing activities. 

What Are Creative Writing Activities?

Activities that teach creative writing serve as drills to exercise your student’s writing muscle. When used effectively, they help reluctant writers get past that intimidating blank paper and encourage the words to flow. 

When I think of creative writing exercises , writing prompts immediately come to mind. And, yes, writing from a prompt is certainly an example of a creative writing activity (a highly effective one). 

However, writing prompts are only one way to teach creative writing. Other types of activities include games, collaboration with others, sensory activities, and comic strip creation to name a few.

Unlike writing assignments, creative writing activities aren’t necessarily meant to create a perfectly polished finished project. 

Instead, they serve as more of a warmup and imagination boost.

Picture-based writing exercises are especially fun. You can download one for free below!

Creative Writing Exercises

get this picture prompt printable for free!

How to use creative writing exercises effectively.

When teaching creative writing , the most effective exercises inspire and engage the student. 

Remember that worn-out prompt your teacher probably hauled out every year? 

“What I Did This Summer…” 

Cue the groaning. 

Instead of presenting your student with lackluster topics like that one, let’s talk about ways to engage and excite them. 

For Kids or Beginners

Early writers tend to possess misconceptions about writing. Many picture sitting down for hours straight, polishing a story from beginning to end. 

Even for experienced writers, this is next-to-impossible to do. It’s preconceived ideas like these that overwhelm and discourage students before they’ve even started. 

Instead of assigning an essay to complete, start with simple, short writing exercises for elementary students such as:

  • Creating comic strips using a template
  • Talking out loud about a recent dream
  • Writing a poem using rhyming words you provide
  • Creating an acrostic from a special word

Creative writing exercises don’t have to end in a finished piece of work. If the exercise encouraged creative thinking and helped the student put pen to paper, it’s done its job. 

For Middle School

Creative writing activities for middle school can be a little more inventive. They now have the fundamental reading and writing skills to wield their words properly. 

Here are some ideas for middle school writing exercises you can try at home:

  • Creating Mad Lib-style stories by changing out nouns, verbs, and adjectives in their favorite tales
  • Storyboarding a short film
  • Writing a family newsletter
  • Creating crossword puzzles

For High School 

Your high school student may be starting to prepare for college essays and other important creative writing assignments. 

It’s more critical than ever for her to exercise her writing skills on a regular basis. 

One great way to keep your high schooler’s mind thinking creatively is to have her make “listicles” of tips or facts about something she’s interested in already. 

Another fun and effective creative writing exercise for high school is to have your student retell classic stories with a twist. 

List of 55 Creative Writing Activities for Students of All Ages

No matter what age range your students may be, I think you’ll find something that suits their personality and interests in this list of creative writing ideas. Enjoy! 

  • Using only the sense of hearing, describe your surroundings. 
  • Write a paragraph from your shoes’ point of view. How do they view the world? What does a “day in the life of a shoe” look like?
  • Imagine what the world will be like in 200 years. Describe it. 
  • Write a letter to someone you know who moved away. What has he or she missed? Should he or she move back? Why? 
  • Make up an imaginary friend. What does he or she look like? What does he or she like to do?
  • Create a story about a person you know. Use as many details as possible.
  • Write a poem that describes a place you have been.
  • Soak up the season you’re in with seasonal creative writing prompts. Here are some ideas for fall and winter .
  • Write a song where each line starts with the next letter in the alphabet. 
  • Create a list of words related to something you love.
  • Write a short story based on a true event in your life.
  • Rewrite a chapter of your favorite book from the antagonist’s point of view. 
  • Write a letter to your future self. What do you want to make sure you remember?
  • Go on a five-senses scavenger hunt. Find three items for each sense. Create a story using the items you found. 
  • Create a story around an interesting picture ( try these fun picture writing prompts! )
  • Find an ad in a magazine or elsewhere and rewrite the description to convince people NOT to buy the advertised item.
  • Write a story using the last word of each sentence as the first word of the next.
  • Describe everything you’re sensing right now, using all five senses.
  • Write a list of animals A to Z with a one-sentence description of each one. Feel free to include imaginary animals.
  • Design your dream room in detail.
  • Write a script of yourself interviewing a famous person. Include his or her answers.
  • Describe what high school would be like if you lived on the moon. What would you be learning about? How would you be learning it?
  • Describe a day in the life of a famous person in history. Include both mundane and exciting details of things they may have experienced on a normal day.
  • Pick up something on a bookshelf or end table nearby. Now write a commercial script for it to convince your audience that they absolutely must own this thing.
  • Plan a birthday party for your best friend. Describe the decorations, food, and everything else.
  • Write a very short story about three siblings fighting over a toy. Now rewrite it twice, each time from a different character’s perspective.
  • Tell a story from the point of view of a pigeon on a city street.
  • Create a menu for a deli you’ll be opening soon. Name each sandwich after something or someone in real life and list the fillings and type of bread.
  • Pretend you just became famous for something. Write 3 exciting newspaper headlines about the topic or reason behind your newfound fame.
  • Keep a one-line-a-day journal. Every day, write down one thought or sentence about something that happened that day or how you felt about the day.
  • Have you ever had a nightmare? Write what happened but with a new ending where everything turns out okay (perhaps the monster was your dad in a costume, preparing to surprise you at your birthday party).
  • Write a “tweet” about something that happened to you recently, using only 140 characters. 
  • Take an important event in your life or the life of someone in your family. Write one sentence answering each of the 6 journalistic questions: Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How.
  • Set a timer for 5 minutes and write nonstop, starting with the words “I remember.” If you get stuck, write “I remember” again until you get unstuck.
  • Pick something you use often (a toothbrush, your desk, etc). Then tell the story of how it was invented. If you don’t know, make something up.
  • Choose a princess or hero and write a one-paragraph story about him or her traveling to a distant land.
  • Pretend you are a tour guide for a local attraction. It can be a library, a park, or a museum, but it could also be a place that wouldn’t normally hold tours (such as an arcade). Write a speech about what you tell your tour group as you walk around the attraction.
  • Create a marketing brochure for your favorite activity or fun place to go.
  • Make a list of 10 future story settings. Write one sentence describing each. For example, “ in the dark, musty cellar of my grandmother’s house, surrounded by dried-up jars of canned peaches… ”
  • Make a list of foods included in a dinner party catered by the world’s worst cook, describing how each course looks, smells, and tastes. Include your reactions while eating it.
  • Write out your own version of instructions for playing your favorite game.
  • Pretend you’ve lost your sight for one night. Describe going out to eat at a restaurant, using smells, textures, and sounds to tell your story.
  • Write a script for an interesting phone conversation in which the reader can only hear one side. 
  • Tell the story of an object someone threw away from the perspective of the person who tossed it out. Then tell the story of that same object from the perspective of a person who finds it and deems it a treasure.
  • List your 3 least favorite chores. Pick one and write a one paragraph detailing why you can’t possibly complete that chore ever again.
  • Write an excerpt from your dog’s diary (pretend he keeps one).
  • Write the script for a movie trailer—real or imagined.
  • Create an acrostic for a holiday of your choice. 
  • Pretend you’re the master of a role-playing game, describing a sticky situation in which the other players now find themselves. Describe the scenario in writing.
  • Compose a funny or dramatic caption for a photo.
  • Parents, place a textured object in a box without letting your student see it. Have him or her reach in, touch the object, and then describe how it feels.
  • Write lyrics for a parody of a song.
  • Make a list of 10-20 songs that would be played if a movie was made about your life.
  • Describe the sounds, smells, sights, and textures you’d experience if you went to the beach for the day.
  • Write an election speech with ludicrous and impossible campaign promises.

One of the best ways to encourage students to write regularly is by providing fun creative writing activities . 

They serve to encourage both the habit and mindset of writing with imagination. If you need extra help with that, check out Creative Freewriting Adventure :

Creative Freewriting Adventure

bring excitement into your student’s writing – no prep required!

About the author.

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Jordan Mitchell

fun writing exercises for college students

35 Fun Activities for College Students (interactive, team building, games) 

fun writing exercises for college students

As a recent graduate, I know first hand how hard it can be to get a classroom of college students engaged in an activity. In my time in college, I’ve had my fair share of fun activities, but also activities that did not go over well in a college classroom.

Getting a classroom full of college students to participate in an activity can be a real challenge. Fortunately, there are some activities that students find fun and will engage in.

In this post, I share 35 fun activities for college students, that will actually get them participating. These interactive classroom activities involve games, team building exercises and interactive assignments.

fun writing exercises for college students

35 Fun Activities for College Students

1. shark tank.

Shark Tank is a great interactive team building game for college students. This is a great way for students to show off their leadership skills, presentation skills and creativity.

Similar to the Shark Tank TV show, students in small groups will come up with a product, a pitch and a presentation. This activity can span across one class or multiple classes, depending on how much time and effort you want students to put into this assignment.

To make this activity extra fun, select a panel of students to be the “Sharks”. Their objective will be to bring up questions, find the flaws in the product and give credit, where credit is due.

Even though the Shark Tank game seems like it might apply best to business and marketing classes, this activity can be played by any group of students for and adapted for any subject.

When I was in college, this was one of the best activities that left a positive impact on me. It’s a really fun way to get the class interested and engaged in an activity.

Kahoot! is a trivia game that is great for new students. Most high school students and new students are probably already familiar with this game, and it’s super easy to set up.

Before you play this game in class, you will first need to enter the trivia questions on the Kahoot website. Once this is done, you can set up the game by logging into your account.

When you are ready, you will be given a code which students should type into their phone to join the game. Divide the students into teams. Team members will have to answer the multiple choice questions gameshow style.

This activity is loads of fun and a good way to get the class involved. Kahoot does not take much time to set up or play, and it’s a great way to test students on course material.

3. Scavenger Hunt

A scavenger hunt around campus was one of the first activities I did as a new student. This was a great ice breaker which allowed me to make new friends, get used to campus and have fun.

For this activity, you will need to come up with some sights around campus that students can visit. Once this is done, divide the students into groups and they will have to go on a scavenger hunt!

Students can take pictures of the sights and the winning time can get a prize. Scavenger hunts are always a fun group activity and a friendly competition that students will love.

Related: 75 Side Hustles For College Students & Ways To Make Money

4. Elevator Pitch

fun writing exercises for college students

The elevator pitch is an activity that I did when I was in college and I didnt realize how valuable it would be later on in life. For this activity, students have to come up with a 30 second pitch about themselves.

They can talk about their interests, hobbies , job, career, what they are studying etc.

This activity will even come in handy after a student is done their college years. As someone who graduated recently, I find myself giving the elevator pitch constantly when I meet new people.

Related: 12 Best Backpacks For College Guys

5. Two Truths and a Lie

Two truths and a Lie is a class game and a great ice breaker. This is a great activity for students to get familiar with new people and learns some little things about their classmates.

This is a very easy game to organize, students will be separated into small groups. The students will the have to tell their group members two truths and a lie. Their classmates will have to try and guess the lie.

6. Question of The Day

fun writing exercises for college students

Question of the day is a fun activity for students to express themselves. At the beginning of class you should ask your students a question. Then ask them to write a paragraph answering the question.

This is a good creative outlet and a great way for students to practice critical thinking. This activity can be done a few times during the school year or regularly throughout the semester.

Here are some examples of questions you can ask your class:

  • What is the biggest struggle that young people are currently facing?
  • Where will technology be in 10 years?
  • Would remote learning improve your academic experience? why or why not.
  • If you could go back to middle school, what piece of advice would you give yourself?
  • Should men and women be allowed to live in dorm rooms together? why or why not.

A potluck is a fun activity that students will absolutely love. Speaking as a former student, I can guarantee that I’m not skipping class if I know there will be food!

There are so many different ways of doing this activity. Students can make food using local produce, students can make a food from their culture or students can make their best recipe.

This is a super fun way to celebrate the end of the semester and a great activity that students will love.

Doing a debate is a great way to get students to fully immerse and inform themselves on a topic. The great thing about doing a debate is that students will get educated on both sides of the matter at hand.

Doing a debate was one of the more memorable and fun classroom activities I did during my time in college. Having an in-class debate will boost student involvement, because no student wants to look uninformed in front of the class.

Start by dividing the class into a few different groups. Then, assign each group a topic and give them some time to prepare. Regardless of the outcome, a debate will have a positive impact on your students.

9. Local Tour

This activity is great for freshman. Giving a local tour is a great way to show the students around campus and even the college town. For many students, college can be an overwhelming experience. Therefore, giving them a local tour will make them feel more comfortable.

Consider showing them where the gyms are, the dining hall, where they can sign up for clubs and where they can meet with faculty members. These are some essential places that every college student should know.

10. Cup Pong

fun writing exercises for college students

Now, we all know that beer pong is part of the college experience, but who says it can’t be educational? This game is super easy to set up and it will get the whole class participating, excited and having fun.

To set this game up, all you will need is 12 red solo cups, a bit of water and some questions to ask your students.

Begin by separating the class into two teams.

Each team will have the chance to answer a question. If they get it right, they get to take a shot. If they get it wrong, the other team gets the chance to answer. The game goes on until there are no cups left!

Playing cup pong may seem like an unconventional way of teaching, but it will get the class involved and the students will have a blast.

11. Case Studies

As someone who studied business in college, I did my fair share of case studies. A case study is an amazing way to learn about the ins and outs of a specific business and industry.

The cases assigned to students can be adapted based on the subject matter being taught in the course. This is one of the teaching methods that prepared me the most for the real world.

Case studies can be done individually or in larger groups. If you expect a lot out of your students, giving a divided assignment and a lot of time for them to complete it, will ensure that they learn a lot and do a good job.

12. Guest Speakers

fun writing exercises for college students

Having the class attend a guess speaker lecture is a good way to give your students a break from regular student life. Sometimes, having a laid back class where they get to hear a guest speaker is a nice change.

Having your students attend a live event, like a guest speaker, will get them out of their dorm rooms and attending the event.

13. Video Presentation

Video presentations are a really fun activity for students to express their creativity. It’s super easy for a group of students to create video presentations using social media apps like TikTok or Instagram.

You can have students create an advertisement, skit or educational video on a specific topic. When I was in college, these were my favorite kind of group activities. It was so much fun seeing what other students would create.

14. Hangman

Now, we all know the classic game Hangman. However, it’s a great ice breaker for new students. When freshman first arrive to college, they are super nervous. S o playing a game of hangman can put them at ease.

To make things interesting, give a small prize to the first student who guesses the answer.

15. Word Limit Answers

Word limit answers are is a creative way for students to express themselves. This may sound like a lazy student’s dream, but it’s actually more challenging than you might think.

Having your students answer a question with a limited word limit is pretty hard. Students will have fun with this activity and they will have to get creative when answering the question.

16. Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

fun writing exercises for college students

Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down is an ice breaker that every student is going to be familiar with. This is a game that students in elementary school, middle school and high school have all played before.

A few students come up to the front of the class, while the rest put their heads down on the desk, with their thumbs up. Each of the students standing at the front must choose one person at a desk, and put their thumb down.

The students who had their thumbs put down then have to guess who did it. This is a great way to have new students feel at ease in college.

17. Interview Role Play

Interview role play is an awesome activity for current students who are nearing the end of their time in college. Have your students pair up in groups, give them a scenario and have them interview each other.

This is a great activity, as you will have some students in leadership rolls doing the interview. Those students who are being interviewed are going to get valuable experience as well.

18. Attend an Upcoming Event

fun writing exercises for college students

On college campus, there is always some sort of interesting upcoming event that is happening. Invite your students to a great event on that’s happening campus and they will have loads of fun.

Here are some educational, fun and special event ideas:

  • Live concert
  • Cultural events
  • Sporting events
  • Guest speaker

19. Breakout Rooms

Breakout rooms were a very popular method of getting students to interact when online classes were happening. It encouraged students to have group discussions, get to know each other and help one another get better grades.

Breakout rooms can be done in person and also online. Many students really liked doing school remotely, so having an online breakout room class once in a while is fun change.

20. Therapy Dogs

There are plenty of programs that will bring therapy dogs to schools. You may need to have this run by the office of student activities, but it’s a really good one.

Therapy dogs are great for mental health. Plus, what student doesn’t want to spend some time with adorable dogs?

College can be hard on students and get stressful . A recent study suggests that dogs lower stress , so why not bring animals in for your class and even the whole student body?

21. Building Card Towers

fun writing exercises for college students

Building card towers is a super activity that encourages classmates to work together to achieve the common goal of building a card tower.

To run this activity, you will need to separate the class into groups, give each group a deck of cards and let them figure it out. This is one of the most fun ice breakers and a great way for students to make new friendships.

22. Mystery Puzzle

A mystery puzzle is another fantastic ice breaker that gets students working together. This one takes a bit of creativity, but if done properly, students will really enjoy it.

Begin by creating a few scenarios that cover a various different themes. When the mystery is created, separate the classroom into groups and have them solve it!

23. Favourite Song Project

Every student listens to music on their free time. What better way to get them engaged in an activity than to ask them to write about their favorite songs?

This is a really easy activity to organize. Just ask your students to write a bit about their favorite song, or songs, and why they like it so much.

24. Photo Challenge

fun writing exercises for college students

The photo challenge is a great ice breaker for new students. This is a nice way for freshman to get familiar with the college campuses and get see what similar interests they have with their classmates.

For this activity, students will have to either take a cool, fun or interesting photo around campus and present it to the class. The more effort and creativity that goes into this challenge, the more fun it will be.

Related: How to Make Money as a College Student

25. Classroom Charades

Everyone knows how to play charades. Charades is a great game to get students out of their comfort zone and to create an environment in class where students feel comfortable.

For some students, they may feel shy or absolutely dread the idea of going up and doing charades in front of the whole class. It’s important that everyone has fun and feels comfortable doing this activity.

26. Bus Trip

In college, activities are often done indoors, but what about the outdoor activities? Taking a bus trip to a local museum or a local landmark is a great way to get students out of the classroom.

It’s a fun way to get to know your students outside of class and one of my most memorable trips I ever did in college, was an overnight camping trip. I got to know my teacher really well on the drive down and made some awesome memories.

27. Board Games

fun writing exercises for college students

Nowadays, it can be hard to get a Gen Zer to name 5 different board games. For many college students, playing board games is a really fun experience.

There are some cool board games that can be played in the classroom and it’s a real change from phone games or video games. Having a class where you play some board games will a great activity for the whole class!

Board Game Recommendations:

  • Snakes and Ladders
  • Connect Four
  • The Game of Life

28. Community Service Activity

If you’re looking to show school spirit while making a positive impact on campus, consider organizing a community service day. This is a great opportunity for students to bond with each other while making a positive impact on the community.

Invite students to volunteer at local organizations. Whether at an animal shelter, a nursing home, or a hospital.

If planning a field trip is not an option, you can always do something on campus. Organizing a trash cleanup is a good way to get the students outside and do something positive for the community.

29. Adult Coloring Books

Adult coloring book

If you’re looking for an activity that college students absolutely love, then check out Adult Coloring Books! This activity is relaxing engaging, making students feel young again.

Throughout my time in college, I had one teacher plan this activity during exam time. She gave the class the option of studying or doing adult coloring, and most students decided to color.

Coloring was an excellent way to wake our minds off of exams, and it was quite therapeutic.

30. Use YouTube For Classroom Activities

YouTube is a great tool for classroom activities. On YouTube, there are plenty of useful resources that can lead to some fantastic class discussions. Throughout my time in college, the professors would use TED Talks to inspire us and to get the class talking.

There are plenty of YouTube videos that encourage students to think outside of the box. Oftentimes, these videos can be very impactful, and they will resonate with them.

31. Collaborative Concept Mapping

Splitting the students into small parties and having them develop a concept map is a great activity that encourages teamwork, critical thinking, and group discussion. Since a concept map requires students to work together, this is a great activity for students to break the ice.

Start by giving the student a blank sheet of paper and giving them a concept. After 10-15 minutes, most groups should be done and ready to share their ideas with the class.

You can end this activity by having the students present their concept map to the class.

32. Crazy Hair Day

When it comes to campus events that get student engagement, Crazy Hair Day always works!

Planning a day where students can come to school with crazy hair is one of the best college event ideas. This activity is great because any student can get involved, it’s easy to plan.

A good way to encourage students to come to school with crazy hair is by making it a competition. Around lunchtime, host an event where students can vote on who has the craziest hair!

This is a great activity for Spirit Week, and it is a fun way to get your fellow students excited about an event.

33. The One-Minute Paper

If you’re looking for a fun activity for college students, consider trying the One-Minute Paper. This fun activity encourages students to think independently and develop their writing skills.

For this activity, you will begin by giving the students a prompt. The students will have one minute to write about the prompt, and then they can either read it to the class or submit it to the teacher.

This is an activity that I did several times throughout college, and I always found it a fun way to build writing skills.

34. Moral Dilemmas

Group Work

Moral Dilemma is an interactive activity encouraging students to converse and voice their opinions.

For this activity, you create a few groups of students and provide them with an ethical dilemma. Students will then have to think outside the box and come up with a creative solution.

When students are coming up with a solution, they may share their personal experiences, which can lead to some heated discussions. It’s important to monitor the conversations and make sure students are pushing the conversations forward instead of arguing.

35. Movie Day

If you’re looking for an activity that every student loves, planning a movie day is a great idea. These movies can be classics, educational, or relevant to a theme you are trying to cover.

As students, we appreciate a fun activity that doesn’t involve “traditional” school work. Even if it’s a movie that leads to an assignment, college students will appreciate it.

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Final Thoughts on 35 Fun Activities For College Students

Getting a classroom full of college students to participate in an activity can be a real challenge. On the bright side, there are plenty of activities that are tons of fun for college students.

As a recent college graduate myself, I can say that all these activities mentioned above are really fun and a great way for students to get to know their classmates and teacher better.

What’s your favorite activity for college students? Please let me know in the comments below.

Ethan Schattauer

3 thoughts on “ 35 Fun Activities for College Students (interactive, team building, games)  ”

“I can guarantee that I’m not skipping class if I know there will be food!”…..haaa, truth though….total truth! 😁✌🏼

Crazy Hair Day – oh my gosh, I literally LOL’d when I saw that one! 😂💯

If I were one of the college students, I think my favorite activities would be Kahoot! (love that name), Two Truths and a Lie, the potluck, a bus trip, and definitely those coloring books – crayons, coloring, and drawing are the best!

Mr. Ethan – would love to see a post under lifestyle/miscellaneous where you give your own personal recommendations of some good books to read that are authored by Gen Z’ers.

The minds of Gen Z are….to be perfectly honest here…legendary. I’ve watched several online movies and series that revolve around Gen Z, not to mention witnessing the actual lives of Gen Z’ers that I know in real life, and the mindset with which you guys face this often times crazy world that you were born into is so uniquely smart and respectable. You are a generation that is both futuristic and classic at the same time – as I always say, you rock a bold 80’s vibe with a far superior level of 20’s sophistication.

The thoughts you guys have about life and the world in general are so on point and profound. I have had some of the most brilliantly engaging conversations ever with the 20-something members of your gen, and I would love to find at least one good book that delves even further into the inner mind and perspective of its Gen Z author as they navigate life in the new millennium.

Wow, superb blog layout! How long have you been blogging for? you make blogging look easy. The overall look of your site is magnificent, as well as the content!

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Classroom Q&A

With larry ferlazzo.

In this EdWeek blog, an experiment in knowledge-gathering, Ferlazzo will address readers’ questions on classroom management, ELL instruction, lesson planning, and other issues facing teachers. Send your questions to [email protected]. Read more from this blog.

How to Help Students With Their Writing. 4 Educators Share Their Secrets

fun writing exercises for college students

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Teaching students to write is no easy feat, and it’s a topic that has often been discussed on this blog.

It’s also a challenge that can’t have too much discussion!

Today, four educators share their most effective writing lessons.

‘Three Practices That Create Confident Writers’

Penny Kittle teaches first-year writers at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire. She was a teacher and literacy coach in public schools for 34 years and is the author of nine books, including Micro Mentor Texts (Scholastic). She is the founder and president of the Book Love Foundation, which annually grants classroom libraries to teachers throughout North America:

I write almost every day. Like anything I want to do well, I practice. Today, I wrote about the wild dancing, joyful energy, and precious time I spent with my daughter at a Taylor Swift concert. Then I circled back to notes on Larry’s question about teaching writers. I wrote badly, trying to find a through line. I followed detours and crossed out bad ideas. I stopped to think. I tried again. I lost faith in my words. I will get there , I told myself. I trust my process.

I haven’t always written this easily or this much. I wouldn’t say I’m a “natural” writer because I don’t believe they exist. Writing is work. When I entered college, I received a C-minus on my first paper. I was stunned. I had never worked at writing: I was a “first drafter,” an “only drafter.” And truthfully, I didn’t know how or what to practice. I was assigned writing in high school and I completed it. I rarely received feedback. I didn’t get better. I didn’t learn to think like a writer; I thought like a student.

I’ve now spent 40 years studying writing and teaching writers in kindergarten, elementary school, middle school, and high school, as well as teachers earning graduate degrees. Despite their age, writers in school share one remarkably similar trait: a lack of confidence. Confidence is a brilliant and fiery light; it draws your eyes, your heart, and your mind. But in fact, it is as rare as the Northern Lights. I feel its absence every fall in my composition courses.

We can change that.

Confidence blooms in classrooms focused on the growth of writers.

This happens in classrooms where the teacher relies less on lessons and more on a handful of practices. Unfortunately, though, in most classrooms, a heap of time is spent directing students to practice “writing-like” activities: restrictive templates for assignments, with detailed criteria focused on rules. Those activities handcuff writers. If you tell me what to do and how to do it, I will focus on either completing the task or avoiding it. That kind of writing work doesn’t require much thinking; it is merely labor.

Practice creating, on the other hand, is harder, but it is how we develop the important ability to let our ideas come and then shaping them into cohesive arguments, stories, poems, and observations. We have misunderstood the power of writing to create thinking. Likewise, we have misunderstood the limitations of narrow tasks. So, here are my best instructional practices that lead to confidence and growth in writers.

1. Writing Notebooks and Daily Revision. Writers need time to write. Think of it as a habit we begin to engage in with little effort, like serving a tennis ball from the baseline or dribbling a basketball or sewing buttonholes. Writers need daily time to whirl words, to spin ideas, to follow images that blink inside them as they move their pen across the page. In my classroom, writing time most often follows engagement with a poem.

Likewise, writers need guidance in rereading their first drafts of messy thinking. I’ve seen teachers open their notebooks and invite students to watch them shape sentences. They demonstrate how small revisions increase clarity and rhythm. Their students watch them find a focus and maintain it. Teachers show the effort and the joy of writing well.

Here’s an example: We listen to a beautiful poem such as “Montauk” by Sarah Kay, her tribute to growing up. Students write freely from lines or images that spring to them as they listen. I write in my notebook as students write in theirs for 4-5 minutes. Then I read my entry aloud, circling subjects and detours ( I don’t know why I wrote so much about my dog, but maybe I have more to say about this … ). I model how to find a focus. I invite students to do the same.

2. Writers Study Writing . Writers imitate structures, approaches, and ways of reaching readers. They read like writers to find possibilities: Look what the writer did here and here . A template essay can be an effective tool to write for a test, but thankfully, that is a very small and insignificant part of the whole of writing for any of us. Real writing grows from studying the work of other writers. We study sentences, passages, essays, and articles to understand how they work, as we create our own.

3. Writers Have Conversations as They Work . When writers practice the skills and embrace the challenges of writing in community, it expands possibilities. Every line read from a notebook carries the mark of a particular writer: the passion, the voice, the experiences, and the vulnerability of each individual. That kind of sharing drives process talk ( How did you think to write about that? Who do you imagine you are speaking to? ), which showcases the endless variation in writers and leads to “writerly thinking.” It shifts conversations from “right and wrong” to “how and why.”

Long ago, at a local elementary school, in a workshop for teachers, I watched Don Graves list on the chalkboard subjects he was considering writing about. He read over his list and chose one. From there, he wrote several sentences, talking aloud about the decisions he was making as a writer. Then he turned to accept and answer questions.

“Why do this?” someone asked.

“Because you are the most important writer in the room,” Don said. “You are showing students why anyone would write when they don’t have to.” He paused, then added, “If not you, who?”

confidenceblooms

Developing ‘Student Voice’

A former independent school English teacher and administrator, Stephanie Farley is a writer and educational consultant working with teachers and schools on issues of curriculum, assessment, instruction, SEL, and building relationships. Her book, Joyful Learning: Tools to Infuse Your 6-12 Classroom with Meaning, Relevance, and Fun is available from Routledge Eye on Education:

Teaching writing is my favorite part of being a teacher. It’s incredibly fun to talk about books with kids, but for me, it’s even more fun to witness students’ skills and confidence grow as they figure out how to use written language to communicate what they mean.

A lesson I used to like doing was in “voice.” My 8th graders had a hard time understanding what I meant when I asked them to consider “voice” in their writing. The best illustration I came up with was playing Taylor Swift’s song “Blank Space” for students. Some students groaned while others clapped. (Doesn’t this always happen when we play music for students? There’s no song that makes everyone happy!) But when they settled down, I encouraged them to listen to the style: the arrangement, her voice as she sang, the dominant instruments.

Then, I played a cover of “Blank Space” by Ryan Adams. Eyes rolled as the song unfurled through the speakers, but again I reminded students to listen to the arrangement, voice, and instruments. After about 60 seconds of the Adams version, heads nodded in understanding. When the music ended and I asked students to explain voice to me, they said it’s “making something your own … like your own style.” Yes!

The next step was applying this new understanding to their own writing. Students selected a favorite sentence from the books they were reading, then tried to write it in their own voice. We did this a few times, until everyone had competently translated Kwame Alexander into “Rosa-style” or Kelly Link into “Michael-style.” Finally, when it was time for students to write their own longer works—stories, personal essays, or narratives—they intentionally used the words and sentence patterns they had identified as their own voice.

I’m happy to report this method worked! In fact, it was highly effective. Students’ papers were more idiosyncratic, nuanced, and creative. The only change to this lesson I’d make now is trying to find a more zeitgeist-y song with the hope that the groans at the beginning die down a little faster.

itsfun

Teaching ELLs

Irina McGrath, Ph.D., is an assistant principal at Newcomer Academy in the Jefferson County school district in Kentucky and the president of KYTESOL. She is also an adjunct professor at the University of Louisville, Indiana University Southeast, and Bellarmine University. She is a co-creator of the ELL2.0 site that offers free resources for teachers of English learners:

Reflecting on my experience of teaching writing to English learners, I have come to realize that writing can be daunting, especially when students are asked to write in English, a language they are learning to master. The most successful writing lessons I have taught were those that transformed the process into an enjoyable experience, fostering a sense of accomplishment and pride in my students.

To achieve this, I prioritized the establishment of a supportive learning environment. At the beginning of each school year, I set norms that emphasized the importance of writing for everyone, including myself as their teacher. I encouraged students to write in English and their native language and I wrote alongside my English learners to demonstrate that writing is a journey that requires hard work and dedication, regardless of age or previous writing experiences. By witnessing my own struggles, my students felt encouraged to persevere.

My English learners understood that errors were expected and that they were valuable opportunities for growth and improvement. This created a comfortable atmosphere where students felt more confident taking risks and experimenting with their writing. Rather than being discouraged by mistakes, they viewed them as steppingstones toward progress.

In my most effective writing lessons, I provided scaffolds such as sentence stems, sentence frames, and word banks. I also encouraged my students to use translation tools to help generate ideas on paper. These scaffolds empowered English learners to independently tackle more challenging writing assignments and nurtured their confidence in completing writing tasks. During writers’ circles, we discussed the hard work invested in each writing piece, shared our work, and celebrated each other’s success.

Furthermore, my most successful writing lessons integrated reading and writing. I taught my students to read like writers and utilized mentor texts to emulate the craft of established authors, which they could later apply to their own writing. Mentor texts, such as picture books, short stories, or articles, helped my students observe how professional writers use dialogue, sentence structure, and descriptive language to enhance their pieces.

Instead of overwhelming students with information, I broke down writing into meaningful segments and taught through mini lessons. For example, we analyzed the beginnings of various stories to examine story leads. Then, collaboratively, my students and I created several leads together. When they were ready, I encouraged them to craft their own leads and select the most appropriate one for their writing piece.

Ultimately, my most effective lessons were those in which I witnessed the joyful smiles on my English learners’ faces as they engaged with pages filled with written or typed words. It is during those moments that I knew my writers were creating and genuinely enjoying their work.

To access a self-checklist that students and EL teachers can use when teaching or creating a writing piece in English, you can visit the infographic at bit.ly/ABC_of_Writing .

iprovided

‘Model Texts’

Anastasia M. Martinez is an English-language-development and AVID Excel teacher in Pittsburg, Calif.:

As a second-language learner, writing in English had not always been my suit. It was not until graduate school that I immersed myself in a vast array of journals, articles, and other academic works, which ultimately helped me find my academic voice and develop my writing style. Now, working as an ESL teacher with a diverse group of middle school multilingual learners, I always provide a model text relevant to a topic or prompt we are exploring.

When students have a model text, it gives them a starting point for their own writing and presents writing as less scary, where they get stuck on the first sentence and do not know how to start.

At the start of the lesson, prior to using a model text, I create a “do now” activity that guides my students’ attention to the topic and creates a relevant context for the text. After students share their ideas with a partner and then the class, we transition to our lesson objectives, and I introduce the model text. We first use prereading strategies to analyze the text, and students share what they notice based on the title, images, and a number of paragraphs. Then, depending on the students’ proficiency level, I read the text to the class, or students read the text as partners, thinking about what the text was mostly about.

After students read and share their ideas with partners and then the whole class, we transition to deconstructing the text. These multiple reengagements with the text help students become more familiar with it, as well as help students build reading fluency.

When deconstructing the model text, I guide my students through each paragraph and sentence. During that time, students orally share their ideas determining the meaning of specific paragraphs or sentences, which we later annotate in the model text using different colored highlighters or pens. Color coding helps visually guide students through similar parts of the model text. For instance, if we highlight evidence in paragraph 2 in one color, we also highlight evidence in the same color in the following paragraph. It helps students see the similarities between the paragraphs and discover the skeleton of the writing. Additionally, color coding helps students during their writing process and revision. Students can check if they used all parts of the writing based on the colors.

Furthermore, one of the essential pieces during deconstructing model texts that I draw my students’ attention to is transition words and “big words,” or academic vocabulary. We usually box them in the text, and I question students about why the author used a particular word in the text. Later, when students do their own writing, they can integrate new vocabulary and transition words, which enhances their vocabulary and language skills.

As the next step, I invite students to co-create a similar piece of writing with a partner or independently using our model text as their guide. Later, our model text serves as a checklist for individual and partner revisions, which students could use to give each other feedback.

Model texts are an essential part of the writing process in any content-area class. As educators, we should embrace the importance of model texts, as they provide a solid foundation upon which students can develop their unique writing skills, tone, and voice.

modeltexts

Thanks to Penny, Stephanie, Irina, and Anastasia for contributing their thoughts!

Consider contributing a question to be answered in a future post. You can send one to me at [email protected] . When you send it in, let me know if I can use your real name if it’s selected or if you’d prefer remaining anonymous and have a pseudonym in mind.

You can also contact me on Twitter at @Larryferlazzo .

Just a reminder; you can subscribe and receive updates from this blog via email . And if you missed any of the highlights from the first 12 years of this blog, you can see a categorized list here .

The opinions expressed in Classroom Q&A With Larry Ferlazzo are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

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Guest Essay

The Most Important Writing Exercise I’ve Ever Assigned

An illustration of several houses. One person walks away from a house with a second person isolated in a window.

By Rachel Kadish

Ms. Kadish is the author of the novel “The Weight of Ink.”

“Write down a phrase you find abhorrent — something you yourself would never say.”

My students looked startled, but they cooperated. They knew I wouldn’t collect this exercise; what they wrote would be private unless they chose to share it. All that was required of them was participation.

In silence they jotted down a few words. So far, so good. We hadn’t yet reached the hard request: Spend 10 minutes writing a monologue in the first person that’s spoken by a fictitious character who makes the upsetting statement. This portion typically elicits nervous glances. When that happens, I remind students that their statement doesn’t represent them and that speaking as if they’re someone else is a basic skill of fiction writers. The troubling statement, I explain, must appear in the monologue, and it shouldn’t be minimized, nor should students feel the need to forgive or account for it. What’s required is simply that somewhere in the monologue there be an instant — even a fleeting phrase — in which we can feel empathy for the speaker. Perhaps she’s sick with worry over an ill grandchild. Perhaps he’s haunted by a love he let slip away. Perhaps she’s sleepless over how to keep her business afloat and her employees paid. Done right, the exercise delivers a one-two punch: repugnance for a behavior or worldview coupled with recognition of shared humanity.

For more than two decades, I’ve taught versions of this fiction-writing exercise. I’ve used it in universities, middle schools and private workshops, with 7-year-olds and 70-year-olds. But in recent years openness to this exercise and to the imaginative leap it’s designed to teach has shrunk to a pinprick. As our country’s public conversation has gotten angrier, I’ve noticed that students’ approach to the exercise has become more brittle, regardless of whether students lean right or left.

Each semester, I wonder whether the aperture through which we allow empathy has so drastically narrowed as to foreclose a full view of our fellow human beings. Maybe there are times so contentious or so painful that people simply withdraw to their own silos. I’ve certainly felt that inward pull myself. There are times when a leap into someone else’s perspective feels impossible.

But leaping is the job of the writer, and there’s no point it doing it halfway. Good fiction pulls off a magic trick of absurd power: It makes us care. Responding to the travails of invented characters — Ahab or Amaranta, Sethe or Stevens, Zooey or Zorba — we might tear up or laugh, or our hearts might pound. As readers, we become invested in these people, which is very different from agreeing with or even liking them. In the best literature, characters are so vivid, complicated, contradictory and even maddening that we’ll follow them far from our preconceptions; sometimes we don’t return.

Unflinching empathy, which is the muscle the lesson is designed to exercise, is a prerequisite for literature strong enough to wrestle with the real world. On the page it allows us to spot signs of humanity; off the page it can teach us to start a conversation with the strangest of strangers, to thrive alongside difference. It can even affect those life-or-death choices we make instinctively in a crisis. This kind of empathy has nothing to do with being nice, and it’s not for the faint of heart.

Even within the safety of the page, it’s tempting to dodge empathy’s challenge, instead demonizing villains and idealizing heroes, but that’s when the needle on art’s moral compass goes inert. Then we’re navigating blind: confident that we know what the bad people look like and that they’re not us — and therefore we’re at no risk of error.

Our best writers, in contrast, portray humans in their full complexity. This is what Gish Jen is doing in the short story “Who’s Irish?” and Rohinton Mistry in the novel “A Fine Balance.” Line by line, these writers illuminate the inner worlds of characters who cause harm — which is not the same as forgiving them. No one would ever say that Toni Morrison forgives the character Cholly Breedlove, who rapes his daughter in “The Bluest Eye.” What Ms. Morrison accomplishes instead is the boldest act of moral and emotional understanding I’ve ever seen on the page.

In the classroom exercise, the upsetting phrases my students scribble might be personal (“You’ll never be a writer,” “You’re ugly”) or religious or political. Once a student wrote a phrase condemning abortion as another student across the table wrote a phrase defending it. Sometimes there are stereotypes, slurs — whatever the students choose to grapple with. Of course, it’s disturbing to step into the shoes of someone whose words or deeds repel us. Writing these monologues, my graduate students, who know what “first person” means, will dodge and write in third, with the distanced “he said” instead of “I said.”

But if they can withstand the challenges of first person, sometimes something happens. They emerge shaken and eager to expand on what they’ve written. I look up from tidying my notes to discover students lingering after dismissal with that alert expression that says the exercise made them feel something they needed to feel.

Over the years, as my students’ statements became more political and as jargon (“deplorables,” “snowflakes”) supplanted the language of personal experience, I adapted the exercise. Worrying that I’d been too sanguine about possible pitfalls, I made it entirely silent, so no student would have to hear another’s troubling statement or fear being judged for their own. Any students who wanted to share their monologues with me could stay after class rather than read to the group. Later, I added another caveat: If your troubling statement is so offensive, you can’t imagine the person who says it as a full human being, choose something less troubling. Next, I narrowed the parameters: No politics. The pandemic’s virtual classes made risk taking harder; I moved the exercise deeper into the semester so students would feel more at ease.

After one session, a student stayed behind in the virtual meeting room. She’d failed to include empathy in her monologue about a character whose politics she abhorred. Her omission bothered her. I was impressed by her honesty. She’d constructed a caricature and recognized it. Most of us don’t.

For years, I’ve quietly completed the exercise alongside my students. Some days nothing sparks. When it goes well, though, the experience is disquieting. The hard part, it turns out, isn’t the empathy itself but what follows: the annihilating notion that people whose fears or joys or humor I appreciate may themselves be indifferent to all my cherished conceptions of the world.

Then the 10-minute timer sounds, and I haul myself back to the business of the classroom — shaken by the vastness of the world but more curious about the people in it. I put my trust in that curiosity. What better choice does any of us have? And in the sanctuary of my classroom I keep trying, handing along what literature handed me: the small, sturdy magic trick any of us can work, as long as we’re willing to risk it.

Rachel Kadish is the author of the novel “The Weight of Ink.”

The Times is committed to publishing a diversity of letters to the editor. We’d like to hear what you think about this or any of our articles. Here are some tips . And here’s our email: [email protected] .

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8 Reading Activities for High Schoolers That They'll Actually Enjoy

Reading and writing skills are important at any age, but we know it's not always easy to keep older kids engaged. Reading activities for high school have to be really compelling to compete with all the other things vying for teens' attention. These fun literacy activities will have them putting down their phones and picking up their pencils.

Need to Know Literacy is a broad term used to describe skills related to reading and writing. While much of the focus on literacy takes place in elementary school, there's definitely a need for continued development of skills at all grade levels.

Fun Reading Comprehension Activities for High School

There's no denying that a major component of literacy is reading comprehension, or the ability to make sense of the words on a page. The thing is, it's not always an easy thing to teach because it's such a broad topic. Students need to understand different kinds of texts across many aspects of life including work, home, and family.

These activities help you zero in on specific aspects of reading comprehension while keeping kids' attention.

Create a Quiz

Instead of having students take quizzes or tests after reading a novel, we love the idea of allowing the students to create the quiz. A test is meant to see what a student has learned after studying specific materials. This activates a student's ability to remember information, but it doesn't do the job of teaching reading comprehension.

Creating a quiz will make students think more specifically about what information was important and how to examine whether someone else has learned that information. This is a tricky way to teach reading comprehension because they have to work hard to know the material before they can write a quiz about it.

Preparation:

Create a list of short stories appropriate for your class

Instructions :

  • Ask each student to choose a short story from your approved list.
  • After reading the story, challenge students to create a comprehensive quiz about the story. Quizzes can be no less than 10 questions and no more than 20. Questions can cover a variety of topics such as characters, plot, and theme.
  • Once the quiz is complete, have students create an answer key.
  • Assign the selected stories as homework, or read and discuss them as a class. Use the student-created quizzes to gauge individual understanding of the story.

Online Profile of a Villain

We love this creative literacy activity that really lets kids get into the details of characters. The concept is simple; readers must select a book based only on a fake online profile created using its content. There are no cover images, author names, or plot summaries visible. This is fun way to get students focused on understanding characters and reading outside of their comfort zones.

An awesome bonus is that a student will need to consider all context clues if they hope to find a book in their preferred genre. If they end up with a genre they might not choose, they get to see how they feel about it (it might just be a new fave).

Preparation: 

  • Ask each student to think of a book they would recommend to a friend. Supply reading lists if necessary.
  • From the chosen book, each student should then write a character summary of the most villainous character.
  • You'll need to have card stock and markers on hand.

Instructions: 

  • Using the character summary, students should create an online profile of the villain. Remind students that a profile highlights positive qualities so they will need to put a positive spin on any negative traits.
  • Write the completed profile on the piece of card stock. Illustrations and creative text techniques are allowed to enhance this new cover for the selected book as long as they do not include an obvious clue as to the villain's identity.
  • All students should place their completed book covers at the front of the room.
  • Choose an order and have students select a character that they might want to learn more about. The book they select will be the next reading assignment.

World Mapping

Many children's stories and fantasy books have a map of the fictional world included. These maps can provide a fun backdrop for a unique listening and reading comprehension activity. Students will be challenged to hear their partner above all others and interpret their words into an image.

Need to Know Active listening skills are an integral aspect of adolescent literacy and a big component of reading comprehension. Listening not only involves hearing a word but also interpreting its meaning, and that's great practice for understanding and processing what you read.
  • Select two to five "other world" maps illustrated in popular fantasy books, like Winnie the Pooh or Lord of the Rings .
  • Prepare a step-by-step script of directions for drawing each map.
  • You'll need to have blank paper and colored pencils for each pair of students.

Instructions:

  • Separate the class into pairs. Give one person from each pair the script and the other person a blank paper and colored pencils. It's suggested that no two groups have the same world.
  • All pairs should start the activity at the same time. This will create a loud atmosphere full of distractions.
  • To start, the script reader should begin telling his partner the directions in the correct order. The person with the paper will need to listen to his partner, follow the directions, and create a world map.
  • Once all maps are complete, groups with the same script can show a comparison of their world map.
  • Open a discussion about what part of the activity was most difficult and why.

Activities to Connect Literacy and Modern Media

Viral videos, countless social media platforms, and entertainment flood the lives of teenagers today, but reading and writing don't have to compete for attention with them. We love the idea of incorporating all kinds of media into reading activities for high school to entice teens to participate and help them expand their knowledge to real life.

Make Your Own Photo Meme

Our phones are absolutely flooded with photos these days, and Instagram is a fixture at this point. Memes are all about combining words with photos, and coming up with the right words is a big part of literacy. The goal of this activity is to give students some light-hearted practice at writing. Students will be challenged to come up with text on the spot, but the humorous nature of the photos should help keep stress levels low.

  • Print funny images from the internet, leaving space on the paper to write under the image. On the back of the image write a genre such as romance, dystopian, science fiction, comedy, drama, or mystery.
  • Give each student one image and a few minutes to examine it.
  • Instruct students to write a funny sentence or two describing their image as it pertains to the given genre, basically creating their own meme. For example, an image of a kitten wrestling a rabbit with the word "mystery" on the back might prompt a caption like "I'm not kitten. Somebunny got hurt, and we need to find out whodunnit."
  • One by one, ask students to share their meme with the class.
  • After each speech, have the class guess what genre the meme would fit in.

Re-Tweet Poetry

Communicating effectively without a ton of words is a skill that can take some practice. On X (previously known as Twitter), the limited character count of posts challenges writers to get a point across in a concise manner.

Preparation :

Assign a poem to each student. Have the students read the poem before the activity.

  • Familiarize the class with the guidelines for X, namely the maximum character count of 280.
  • Students must first rewrite each stanza of the poem to fit into a single 280-character post while still conveying the tone, mood, and point of the stanza.
  • Once the entire poem has been rewritten as a series of tweets, students should create two hashtags to accompany the posts. The hashtags should relate to either the theme, title, or author of the poem.

Analyze Song Lyrics

Teenagers live by their soundtracks, maybe even more than they did in previous generations. Incorporating this love for music into a lesson about comprehension and writing can be pretty powerful. Students will need to interpret the meaning behind song lyrics, specifically if there is one controversial message that stands out.

Ask each student to choose a favorite song and submit it ahead of time. Check lyrics for availability and appropriateness before approving students' song choice.

  • Present each student with a copy of the lyrics for their chosen song.
  • Ask each student to write a literary analysis essay using the chosen song.
  • As an added learning experience, you could ask students to present their song and analysis to the class.

Activities to Focus on Words and Their Meanings

Vocabulary lessons can be incredibly dull and boring when they involve memorizing lists and reciting them back to the teacher. The thing is, being familiar with an extensive vocabulary can help students sound more professional in adult settings. These fun activities can help.

Beach Ball Vocab Lesson

Active lessons are awesome when you need to gain and keep the attention of teenagers. This age group is best suited for an active in-class game because they should be able to keep on task while having fun.

  • Use a permanent marker to create distinct sections on a beach ball, create as few or many as needed.
  • In each section, write a command dealing with the use of a vocabulary word. Some examples would be: change to an adverb, define the word, use it in a sentence, think of a rhyming word, and think of another word with the same root.

How to Play:

  • Instruct students to sit on their desks or have all the desks arranged in a circle before game play.
  • Write a vocabulary word on the white board, call out a student's name, and throw them the ball.
  • The student should then shout the answer to whichever prompt is closest to their left thumb as it pertains to the word on the board.
  • If the student answers correctly, the teacher should choose a new vocab word before the student calls out a classmate's name and throws the ball to that person. If the student answers incorrectly, the same vocab word is used and the ball is thrown to the next player.
  • Continue game play until all vocabulary words have been used or time is up.

Comic Strip Scene

Comic strips offer a place to showcase an entire story in very few words (plus their just really fun). This activity will require students to tap into their creativity and vocabulary skills in rewriting a scene from a play.

  • Scenes from a play
  • Blank paper
  • Colored pencils or markers
  • Assign a scene from a play to each student.
  • Instruct students to create a comic strip inspired by this scene. The purpose of the comic should mirror that of the scene, but the tone should be humorous as that is typically how comic strips are written. The basic idea is to capture the essence of the scene in images and only a few choice words. No text from the scene should be copied in the comic aside from character and location names.
  • Display and discuss the comic strips as a class. What were some of the most effective ways a particular scene was portrayed?

Connect the Dots and Have Fun

The best reading activities for high school involve covering a wide variety of skills related to the use of language. Help high school students prepare for successful adulthood by incorporating different activities that include each of these skills, but don't forget to have fun at the same time.

high school students reading

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    People learn to write by writing, by actively practicing the skills that make up the writing process. So the more actively engaged students are in the classroom, the more they will learn. Here are some of the numerous types and examples of activities writing teachers use [below this list are activities used by instructors in our program.

  20. Writing Exercises

    Exercise 1: The difference between primary and secondary sources. Exercise 2: Sample search. Exercise 3: Documenting within the paper - MLA. Exercise 4: Documenting within the paper - APA. Exercise 5: Documenting within the paper - Turabian. Exercise 6: Documenting at end of paper - MLA. Exercise 7: Documenting at end of paper - APA.

  21. 55 Creative Writing Activities for All Ages

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  22. 35 Fun Activities for College Students (interactive, team building

    1. Shark Tank Shark Tank is a great interactive team building game for college students. This is a great way for students to show off their leadership skills, presentation skills and creativity. Similar to the Shark Tank TV show, students in small groups will come up with a product, a pitch and a presentation.

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    Free creative writing exercises that will inspire your students. With the Adobe Education Exchange, you gain access to a free, easy-to-use learning platform that's built around a creative community. Designed by educators for educators in every subject and discipline, our writing exercises, workshops, classes, and resources can help your ...

  24. How to Help Students With Their Writing. 4 Educators Share Their

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  25. The Most Important Writing Exercise I've Ever Assigned

    For more than two decades, I've taught versions of this fiction-writing exercise. I've used it in universities, middle schools and private workshops, with 7-year-olds and 70-year-olds.

  26. 8 Reading Activities for High Schoolers That They'll Actually Enjoy

    Preparation: Print funny images from the internet, leaving space on the paper to write under the image. On the back of the image write a genre such as romance, dystopian, science fiction, comedy ...