What is creative writing?

Creative writing goblin
Children are encouraged to read and write a range of genres in their time at primary school. Each year they will focus on various narrative, non-fiction and poetry units; we explain how story-writing lessons help develop their story structure, grammar and punctuation skills.
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Narrative or creative writing will be developed throughout a child's time at primary school. This table gives a rough idea of how story structure, sentence structure, description and punctuation are developed through story-writing lessons at school. (Please note: expectations will vary from school to school. This table is intended as an approximate guide.)

Creative writing in primary school

Year 1

Story structure
Events in a story in an order that makes sense. 

Sentence structure
Joining two clauses in a sentence with the word 'and.'

Description
Simple adjectives to describe people and places. 

Punctuation
Use of capitals, full stops, exclamation marks and question marks.

 

Year 2 Story structure
Stories sequenced with time-related words such as: then, later, afterwards, next.

Sentence structure
Starting to use sentences with two clauses connected by 'and,' 'but,' 'so,' 'when,' 'if' and 'then.' Keeping the tense of the writing consistent.

Description
Using a broader range of adjectives. 

Punctuation
Using capital letters, full stops, question marks, exclamation marks, commas for lists and apostrophes for contracted forms (e.g. they're) and the possessive (e.g. 'Sarah's pen').

 

Year 3 Story structure
Stories structured with a clear beginning, middle and end. Starting to write in paragraphs.

Sentence structure
Continuing to use sentences with two parts, linked with connectives such as 'because', 'but' and 'so'.

Description
Broad range of adjectives plus some powerful verbs

Punctuation
Using all of the punctuation above. Starting to use some speech punctuation.


Year 4

Story structure
Gaining confidence with structuring a story and with organising paragraphs.

Sentence structure
Using sentences connected with more sophisticated connectives such as because,' 'however,' 'meanwhile' and 'although.' 

Description
Using a range of adjectives, powerful verbs and adverbs. Some use of similes. Using fronted adverbials (placing the adverb at the start of the sentence, e.g. 'Quickly, the children stood up'). 

Punctuation
Increasingly accurate use of speech punctuation. Using commas after fronted adverbials.

​Year 5

Story structure
Good structure of description of settings, characters and atmosphere. Integrating dialogue to advance the action. Using time connectives to help the piece of writing to come together. 

Sentence structure
Using a range of connectives to connect parts of sentences.  

Description
Using adjectives, powerful verbs and adverbs. Possibly some use of figurative language such as metaphors, similes and personification

Punctuation
Using brackets, dashes or commas to indicate parenthesis.

​Year 6

Story structure
Continuing to structure stories confidently. Using adverbials such as: in contrast, on the other hand, as a consequence.

Sentence structure
Using more sophisticated connectives like 'although,' 'meanwhile' and 'therefore.' Using the passive form. Using the subjunctive

Description
Continuing to use a range of descriptive language (see above) confidently. 

Punctuation
Using all of the previously mentioned punctuation correctly. Using semi-colons, colons and dashes to mark the boundary between clauses.

How creative writing is taught in primary schools

When teachers teach creative writing, they usually follow the units suggested by the literacy framework, including the following:Teachers will start with a text that they are confident will engage the interest of the class. It is often a good idea to find a well-illustrated text to bring the story alive further. They will spend a week or two 'loitering on the text', which will involve tasks where characters and scenarios from the text are explored in-depth. These tasks may include:
  • Drawing a story map or mountain to get an idea of the structure of the story
  • Writing a letter from one character to another
  • In pairs, improvising a conversation between two characters in the story
  • Making notes on a spider diagram about a particular character
  • Writing the thoughts of a character at a particular point in the story
  • Writing a diary entry as one character in the story
Once teachers feel that the text has been thoroughly explored, they will guide the children in writing their own version of the story. This involves planning the story, brainstorming characters and setting and then writing a draft of the story. Children will then be encouraged to edit and re-write their draft.  Teachers may mark the draft and write their own suggestions on it, or they may ask children to swap their writing with their partner and encourage them to make suggestions on each other's work. Throughout this process, teachers are aiming to encourage children to develop skills in the above four sections of the table: story structure, sentence structure, description and punctuation.

Finally, children will write up a 'neat' finished version of their writing. Teachers often give children a format for doing this, such as bordered paper on which they can add illustrations, or a booklet for which they can design a front cover.