This is Step 3 of my Seven Steps to Story Success – A step-by-step guide to teaching children how to write stories. In this step -planning the plot, children will visually render the main parts of their story. Accompanying worksheet can be found towards the bottom, available to download and print.
If you missed the previous steps you can catchup here:
Didn’t we just do a story plan in step 2?
Yes and no!
In the previous step of planning the nitty gritty, children was a deep dive into the critical elements of their story. In Step 3, Planning the Plot, children will visually render the main parts of their story. This step of the planning is a summary to all of the simmering of ideas that took place in the previous step. This ensures that there is always a clear and simple plan to fall back on, and no one will suffer from writer’s block because the main story events have been identified.
Planning the plot creates structure for the story and helps to ensure that the story flows logically and coherently from beginning to end, making it easier for readers to follow and understand. It also helps children have a clear direction and focus for the story, making it easier for them to stay on track and avoid getting lost in unnecessary details.
Strong believable characters are key to a good story, and planning the plot can also help with character development. By knowing the overall arc of the story, children can check that the characters’ actions and motivations are consistent and make sense within the context of the plot.
Planning the plot before writing can help to avoid writer’s block by providing a roadmap for the story. When children have a clear plan for the plot, they can focus on the writing itself without getting stuck on what should happen next.
A well-planned plot can make the editing and revision process easier as you and the child can review all the necessary story elements are included and that the pacing is consistent throughout the story before the writing even begins.
When children are writing their first few stories, I wouldn’t get to hung up on getting them to do a perfect plot structure with all of the textbook elements of the inciting incident, the rising action, the climax, the falling action, and the resolution.
Until they get comfortable and confident writing stories, it is ok to just make a plan which is a sequence of events where the character has achieved something or overcome a problem.
When planning a plot, there are generally five elements that should be considered in order to create a cohesive story:
I think one of the best ways to get students to understand what the elements of a story plot are, is to read and discuss short stories together. Choose a story or book to read and use it as a springboard for discussing the elements of plot. Ideally this should be done before embarking on the story writing process, but you could also use stories that all kids are familiar with, e.g. traditional tales, or stories that you both have read and just analyse a couple of those stories without going too deep into the analysis.
I have some examples of elements of the plot of a couple of fairy tales and one of my favourite children’s book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, so that you can see examples in practice.
The plot of Little Red Riding Hood has many different versions, however, the basic plot elements typically include:
Overall, the plot of Little Red Riding Hood involves a journey, a dangerous encounter with a wolf, and a rescue that leads to a lesson learned-the importance of being cautious when talking to strangers.
The plot of Goldilocks and the Three Bears is a classic fairy tale which also has many different versions. However, the basic plot elements include:
In addition to these elements, in my story planning template I’ve included a prompt that gets children to consider what emotion they want the reader to feel at that point of the story. When it comes to writing the story, this will help them consider how to develop the tone and mood of their writing using literary devices, or help them make vocabulary choices which will be consistent with the emotions they are writing about.
Planning the tone or mood of each part of the story also helps avoid any jarring or confusing shifts in the mood and it can significantly impact its effectiveness. By planning the tone or mood of each part of the story, children can make sure their writing effectively conveys its intended emotional impact on the reader.
Also, when it comes to you checking their writing, you can refer to the emotions they planned to create and work with the child if required to help them find words and phrases to create those effects.
I have created a template that can be used to plan the story. I have used boxes for each part of the plan, to leave it open ended. Younger kids may want to draw the main events. Older kids can write a couple of sentences in each box for each of the five main elements of a story plot. Children who are using this to prepare for the creative writing task of their GCSE English exams may not want to use the tradition story arc, and end things on a cliffhanger, or use a different story structure, for example flash backs or flash forwards. That’s ok- just get them to use the boxes in the order they intend to write the story, and definitely get them to consider the mood/ tone of each part of their writing.
If you would like to share any work made by your kids whilst using this guide feel free to comment below, or email me at email@example.com
I hope this helps some of you out!