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English creative writing lesson plans

Creative Writing

15 Classified Ads We Hope Had Happy Endings
Writing prompt: choose one of these historical ads and construct a narrative that supports it. Include characters, location, and other necessary details. (Teachers may wish to check the ads for appropriateness.)

20 Mystical Bridges That Will Take You To Another World
Creative writing prompt: “I walked across the bridge and . ” The photographs of real bridges on this page are astonishingly beautiful. However, the page also carries ads that may not be appropriate for the classroom. Consider copying the photographs into a new file for classroom use.

27 Magical Paths Begging To Be Walked
Photographs of beautiful paths all over the world, showing a variety of seasons and geography, just waiting to inspire a poem or serve as the setting for a short story. Note: this page carries ads that may not be appropriate for the classroom. Consider copying the photographs into a new file for classroom use.

The 100-Word Challenge
In this activity students respond to a prompt using not more than 100 words. Writing is posted on a class blog, where responses are invited. The activity encourages regular writing for an authentic audience. It’s designed for students 16 and under.

Adding Emotions to your Story
A good lesson on adding detail, “exploding” an incident, and “show, don’t tell.” It includes handouts and is designed for grades 3-5.

After the First Draft: 30 Fast, Easy Writing Tips for the Second Draft
This 37-page document is designed for writers of novels, but many of the tips apply equally to writers of short stories. Clear, simple, and easy to read, appropriate for 5th or 6th grade (in places) and up. Adobe Reader required for access.

All Together Now: Collaborations in Poetry Writing
Students write a line of poetry in response to something the teacher reads. Their lines, together, form a poem. This unit is designed for grades K-2.

Bernadette Mayer’s List of Journal Ideas A list of journal topics that will work on multiple grade levels. Scroll down for a list of “Writing Experiments” that will work well in a creative writing unit.

The Book of Butterflies by Michael Leunig
(Scroll down on the page.) This short (1:06) video explores the question “What happens when a book comes to life?” It will work well on almost any grade level.

By the Old Mill Stream
A creative writing prompt, differentiated for elementary and middle and high school students. Students begin writing a narrative. In the second part of the prompt, they write a description.

Can You Haiku? from EdSitement
Complete lesson plans for writing haiku, links to additional material.

Character Name Generator
Choose ethnicity, decade of birth, and gender, and this site will generate an appropriate name and a possible character description.

Characterization in Literature and Theater
Students explore various methods authors use to create effective characters. Students will consider what makes a character believable and create their own characterizations. They will also write a short script using the characters they created and act out the script.

The Clues to a Great Story
One-page handout with 5 essential elements for good storytelling. Uses “The Ugly Duckling” and more contemporary stories for examples.

The Color of Love
In this lesson students will be invited to reflect on a variety of colors and the pleasurable things that those colors invoke. They then will write a poem about someone they love following Barbara Joosse’s style in I Love You the Purplest .

Creating Characters
Students examine character as a significant element of fiction. They learn several methods of characterization, identify and critique these methods in well-known works of fiction, and use the methods in works of their own. Students also identify, examine, evaluate, and use the elements dialogue and point of view as methods of characterization.

Creative State of Mind: Focusing on the Writing Process
In this lesson, students examine the lyrics of rap artist Jay-Z for literary elements including rhyme, metaphor, puns and allusions, then consider what he says about his own writing process. Finally, they analyze additional lyrics and apply lessons from Jay-Z’s process to their own reading and writing.

The Cutting Edge: Exploring How Editing Affects an Author’s Work
Students examine the writing of short-story author Raymond Carver as well as their own writing to explore how editing can affect the text, content and context of an author’s work.

6 Creative Lessons to Inspire Secondary Writers

Looking for outside-the-box ELA teaching ideas? This roundup from has valuable ideas for everyone, covering everything from differentiation ideas…to engaging mini lessons…to maker spaces…and more!

Let’s dive into the ideas linked below to find inspiration you can use to engage middle and high school students. Here are six different posts containing creative lessons, resources, and activities to inspire secondary writers.


Read about THIRTEEN ways Reading and Writing Haven uses pictures to inspire students to write poetry. Heading into a literary analysis, poetry, or creative writing unit? These ideas will be especially useful!

Ready to dive into poetry analysis and written response? Add some zest to your typical lesson plan with this visual one pager that scaffolds students analysis of key poem or song elements.


In this post, Teach BeTween the Lines shares FOUR mini-lessons for teaching suspense writing, including character analysis, sensory images, literary devices, and more.

Dive into a spooky-type short story and character analysis with “The Most Dangerous Game.”


This creative lesson to inspire secondary writers is a newer approach. Turn your writer’s workshop into a maker space with these unique ideas from Spark Creativity.

It’s true! Creative writing doesn’t have to be intimidating. Engage students with this short story maker assignment.


Bespoke ELA’s post is all about the recursive nature of writing. It goes all directions: forward, backward, and sideways. Support secondary writers by teaching them to be reflective throughout the process.

Use these FREE task cards by Bespoke ELA at the end of a Writer’s Workshop to emphasize that an essay can be edited and revised at any time. Communicate to students that writing is a continual, recursive process, not linear.


Teaching a creative writing unit or class? In this post, Language Arts Classroom writes about THREE creative writing assignments you can use with students; how-to articles, children’s books, and movie scripts.

And! Help students organize their writing with a creative angle: cookies! These graphic organizers will help students with brainstorming, narrowing ideas, and more.


One of the most popular ways to incorporate lessons that inspire secondary writers is writing workshop. The problem? Without training, it’s hard to figure out how to get started.

Amanda Write Now’s post covers various angles to consider when setting up a writing workshop. Specifically, this article features “how-tos” for FIVE of her favorite workshop mini lessons.