Writing fiction is hard. It’s hard for people who love to write, want to write, and have something they want to write about. I have enough half-formed stories in my head and belong to enough writers’ support groups to know this.
If it’s hard for an adult when they have all that going for them, imagine how much more difficult it is for a student being told, “Be creative. Write a story.” Coming up with a plot and characters can overwhelm even creative kids, creating a negative feedback loop. “I’m not good at writing. I can’t write. I hate writing.” Story prompts are a huge help. But plenty of young writers still struggle with developing characters and writing realistic dialogue.
I wanted to focus on fiction writing this year and decided to experiment introducing FanFiction (basically “borrowing” characters from another book, movie, TV series or other work) to make the writing more interesting. From the very start my somewhat-reluctant-to-write 7th grader was excited about the idea. Our first step was to brainstorm of all the books (especially series), movies and TV shows that he was particularly familiar with. That way, as he was given each prompt and assignment, there was a cast of characters just waiting to be written about.
Our first prompt – “Write a scene of dialogue between at least two characters. One person can only say ‘I don’t want to.'” – was just silly enough to get the ball rolling and have fun with the writing process. The next prompt, “write a survival story”, was intended to be a short assignment to go along with our Hatchet novel study. When it turned into a six page, 3,000 word story (based on characters from How to Train Your Dragon) that he wanted to work on, I knew we were on to something.
While there are a ton of prompts available for free all over the internet, too many were not suitable for our situation. We avoid anything dealing with magic or the supernatural, and (thankfully) there’s not much interest in reading, writing or thinking about romantic relationships. So I made our own all-purpose, suitable for all ages prompts!
Want to try FanFiction writing with your student? Here’s a few prompts to get you started:
Dialogue prompt: You think I’d notice if my best friend was a robot!
Make a list of characters and their favorite songs.
Write a scene with your characters playing a board game.
Your character is going undercover at a local school to solve a crime. Write about it.
What is your character’s morning routine?
Want something ready to use for your student? I’ve put together a book with 30 FanFiction writing prompts for use with middle or high school students (or anyone wanting a starting point for a writing project). Each 2 page spread includes a prompt lined paper for writing. Extra lined pages are included in the back for any stories that run on a little longer. Available on Amazon Print on Demand
FanFiction writing may just open your student up to a larger writing community. Just like with any online community, not everything is suitable for everyone. Click here for some ideas and cautions about sharing FanFiction stories.
Use one of my prompts or your own? We’d love to read it. Feel free to post it in the comments below!