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Ways to discover narrative topics

As I said in the Topics introduction, every writer has to work at finding good topics. I work hard at helping my students own this very important first step to successful writing. Here are suggestions my students discovered over the course of a couple weeks.:

What we’ve learned so far about finding topics.

  • Retell a story you heard or read.
  • Tell stories.
  • Read a book or poem.
  • Use the same structure of a story or poem.
  • Freewrite. Circle topics.
  • Update your Writing Territories.
  • Keep a topic page.
  • Draw a picture.
  • Use a picture as a starting place.
  • Ask others what they’re writing about.

 

Other ideas you can use over and over!

  • Describe the weather. Watch a storm roll in. Watch the rain. Describe what it feels and smells like.
  • Collect settings. Where might a story take place? Describe a house or apartment that you might use in a story.
  • Collect people. Describe interesting people you see out your window or at the grocery store. Write down everything about them – what they’re wearing, how tall, shoes, hair color, hair style, how they move and talk…
  • Write down interesting things that happened to you during the day. Try to write it down in an entertaining way.
  • Write down what you heard happened to other people or stories you heard people say.
  • Wonder about things. Write down what you’re wondering about.
  • Think of the things you did during the day that had action. Try to explain the action completely. (How did you throw the football, rollerblade, ride a bike, get off a bus, step into the car, open the door, unpack your bookbag, get a snack, OR trip on your brother’s toy…???)
  • Describe how a person looks when they’re in a mood. (What do you look like when you’re mad, nervous, excited, happy, sad, embarrassed, overjoyed, OR scared?)

NEXT: Ways to discover persuasive topics

girlwriter

Free to choose

It feels good to have a daybook because you're not forced to use one topic. You can make up your own topic and use your own words.

– Angel, 3rd-grader

Free lessons and handouts to download

Click on the titles to download free lesson plans and handouts on narrative writing.

Finding topics

Teach students how to find topics they know well. Knowing the topic makes learning to write easier. This handout provides 11 lessons on finding topics.

NARRATIVE TIPS

A resource for people passionate about helping students write well, compiled by Karen Haag

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Copyright 2016 by Karen Haag

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