Writers’ Workshop



PLANNING       Thinking time – brainstorm ideas.

1.      What is the big issue/problem?

2.      Do some research – investigate your cause. What are the different parts of this problem? List as many of the things as you can as this will help you think about why they’re happening and find solutions. Remember, often one big issue is made up of smaller problems or issues. Think of as many of these as you can.

3.      Make a list of words to describe the problem you have identified. What does it look like? Can you use other senses to describe it? (If it is a litter problem it might have a smell. If it is a wildlife problem it might have a sound or lots of emotions.)

4.      What needs to be done? How can you take action to improve this issue/problem you have identified?

5.      What resources do you need to take action? (money for posters, addresses of people who can help, etc.)

INTRODUCTION – informing others of the issues

1.      Identify the issue/problem you are going to be talking about. Use powerful words to paint pictures of what the problem is and why it needs to be fixed.

2.      Be creative about how you say this. Remember to use a sizzling start – you want to GRAB your reader’s attention.

3.      Give your reader some scenarios – describe some people being affected by this issue.

4.      Look back over your list of the smaller problems that are part of the bigger problem. This will help you to give detail and to think of more powerful actions that can be taken.

5.      Make sure you have given evidence. What damage or problems is this issue of yours causing?



1.      You’ve identified the problem. Now it’s time to inform others and get them to agree with you. We can bring about change if we identify the issue, work out what to do about it and let others know of the issue so they can help as well.

2.      Write down what is happening because of this issue or problem

3.      Write down what action you are going to take, and that you want others to take, to solve this issue.

4.      Write down who will do these tasks.

5.      Will you need to raise money to help complete these tasks?

6.      Think about how you can inspire people to help. How can you best communicate the problem and get people to be part of the solution?


Remember to have a powerful ending. There are a couple of techniques you could use to do this:

1.      This is where you summarise the issue and the action. It could be done with a rhetorical question – are you tired of seeing plastic bags blowing in our streets? Take action with us to…

2.      Use Show Don’t Tell strategies – paint word pictures by using strong words and examples.

3.      Call to action – finish by asking your reader to act on your arguments with things that they can do to help this wonderful cause you have just been convincing them about.


Some more personification poems…



Cinquain poems…



Some helpful links for our poetry reading this week…


A lovely example of a shape poem is The Mouse’s Tale by Lewis Carroll…


As we continue to read and enjoy poetry, have a look at some of the poems on Kathryn Apel’s website.  You’ll need to click on the tab ‘Whisker of Poetry’. Read some of these poems and let yourself be inspired to create one of your own…




What makes a good poem? How is a poem different from a story? Does a poem have to rhyme? Have a look at some poems from the following website…


What writing techniques can you find in the poems? Is there any alliteration? Rhythm? Repetition? Description?

Choose one of the poems and write it in your English book. Make sure you write down the name of the author.



We have welcomed Gerome to our gnome garden and he’s now standing happily next to our very first toadstool (thank you Alice :-). Spend a few moments building Gerome’s character. Who is he? Where has he come from? What secret goals and skills does Gerome have?


Dynamic Dialogue

Dialogue means characters talking. It is a great way to use the Show don’t Tell strategy and to add action and humour to your stories.

Things to remember:

Each time a new person speaks they need a new line. For example…

‘I have lost my elephant!’ cried Mrs Walker.

‘Have you checked the car park?’ said Finn. ‘Sometimes he hangs around in there.’

‘Or maybe the oval,’ said Harry. ‘I saw him there yesterday.’

‘I’ve checked both of those places,’ said Mrs Walker sadly, ‘and he’s not anywhere.’

‘Hey, look at that!’ said Matt. ‘There’s an elephant dancing on the art room roof!’

From this dialogue we now know that Mrs Walker has an elephant. She keeps it at school, but she’s lost it. Her elephant is good at climbing and likes to dance.

Find some examples of good dialogue in your favourite books. What does the dialogue tell you about the characters and what they are thinking and feeling?


Tightening Tension

Xavier crept slowly, carefully towards the partly open door. He could hear the creature on the other side, snorting and growling. Closer, closer he crept. Stones crunched beneath his worn black Nikes. The snorting stopped. Xavier froze. Nothing moved except his racing heart. There was a low growl then the sound of sharp claws clacking on concrete. The snarls grew louder. Xavier looked back wildly. He shouldn’t have done this! What was he thinking? He turned to run but the door pushed open and creature appeared, saliva dripping from its sharp yellow teeth, pale grey eyes gleaming like evil moons.

The idea behind tightening tension is to build your reader’s anxiety. You want to turn them into nervous wrecks! Think of those times you’ve been gripping your book, unable to put it down because you were so worried about what was going to happen to your main character. The trick with tension scenes is to use lots of powerful verbs and to use the five senses and body language. Notice in the paragraph above that Xavier crept, the creature snorted and growled. Stones crunched. Xavier froze. His heart was racing. Use description and detail. When Xavier sees the creature there’s saliva dripping from its sharp yellow teeth.

Now you are going to put one of your characters into a stressful situation. You are going to send them towards a door (or a cave, or a dungeon…you choose). On the other side of that door there is something your character is scared of. They can hear it. Maybe they can smell it. But they can’t see it, not till the last moment. Use body language to describe what your character is feeling. Do they have sweaty palms, a racing heart, shaky knees?  Build the tension as high as you can. Does your character run away? Do they fall over?

I look forward to reading about the stressful situations your poor characters end up in 🙂


Show don’t Tell

When we are writing an important scene in our stories, it is best to show what the character is feeling rather than tell us what they are feeling.

For example:

If Lucy is feeling nervous or scared you might write: Lucy chewed her fingernails and blinked away tears.

If Albert is feeling angry or annoyed you might write: Albert glared at Lucy. ‘Stop that immediately!’ he snapped. 

In your Writers’ Notebook, list some emotions a character might be feeling (happiness, sadness, anger, anxiety) then write some behaviours your character might show so the reader knows what they’re feeling.

Here’s another example of the difference between Show don’t Tell…

TELL – Max was angry. 

SHOW – Max shoved open the classroom door and marched across the room. ‘Who took my hat?’ he shouted. 





What is it about a story beginning that makes you want to keep reading? Is it the description? Perhaps the action? Maybe the author uses 5 senses description or perhaps they give you a sense of place and character very quickly. Margaret Wild uses a strategy called ‘Where, Where, What’. Read this beautiful beginning…

“Through the charred forest, over hot ash, runs dog, with a bird clamped in his big gentle mouth.” (Fox, by Margaret Wild, illustrated by Ron Brooks) That opening sentence does so much! It shows us that something bad has happened – the forest is charred and full of hot ash, it introduces 2 characters; a dog and a bird. It tells us the dog is gentle. It makes us wonder if the bird is hurt. Has it been burnt?

Look at other story beginnings. Have a chat about what you like or don’t like about those beginnings.

Use Margaret Wild’s ‘Where, Where, What’ strategy to inspire your own story beginning…

1. Choose a setting – a forest, an ocean, a castle, a farm…

2. Choose some adjectives (describing words) for that setting.

3. Choose a smaller setting inside the setting – a clearing in a forest, waves on the ocean, a tower in the castle. Think of some more adjectives.

4. Now choose your main character…a person, an animal, a mythical beast. Think of some words to describe them.

5. Put these ideas together into a story beginning.