Plot and theme

Nouns in a bag

Nouns in a bag activity

Fill a bag with random nouns and ask pupils to select three.  These three nouns must feature in their story.  Pupils then use the nouns mat to place the nouns. Extend this activity using three bags: nouns, character and setting. This could form the basis of their story.

Ask your pupils to drag words and/or images from any sources they choose into the boxes for different aspects of creative writing. Encourage them to create a mat for location, weather, time of day, character types and incidents.

Set the mats up and ask your pupils to throw a counter onto each mat to generate the elements of their story. They can work as groups, pairs or individually.

[Nouns mat Download]

Extension for this activity

Consider making genre specific mats in groups/pairs for the whole class to use.

Famous films

Famous films as plot stimulus

Ask your pupils to match the plot with the famous film. Encourage them to explore setting, character and plot based on the information in the Match the plot resource. Then deconstruct a favourite film using the Unpick a favourite film resource:

[Match the plot Download]

[Unpick a favourite film Download]

Talking and listening extension activity

Give each pupil two different coloured pieces of card. Put a box in the centre of the classroom.

Ask your pupils to think of a popular, suitable film and write a summary of the plot on one of the pieces of card. Then ask them to write the name of the film on the other piece of card and put it into the box.

Next, ask each pupil to take two pieces of card, one of each colour, from the box. They should then circulate around the classroom to try to match their cards. They should give their plot card to the person who has matching title card and try to find the plot for their title. Encourage them to ask questions about the plot only. They should not offer information about their own title without being asked a question.

Make this activity more difficult by encouraging your pupils to ask yes or no questions or limiting the number of questions they can ask.

You may find the Famous films as plot extension resources useful:

[Famous films as plot extension – written activity Levels 3, 4 and 5 Download­]

[Famous films as plot extension – written activity Levels 5, 6 and 7 Download]

Please visit the CCEA Task Support System for a differentiated assessment grid for this activity.

What if? Scenario

You can use these scenarios as a stimulus for a creative writing plot. This activity allows for write-ons and character insights as follow on activities.

[What if? Scenarios Download]

Pitch to Hollywood

Pitch to Hollywood

Once your pupils have considered their plot, character and setting, ask them to pitch their story or screenplay to Hollywood executives.

Pitch to Hollywood 87 KB - uploaded 08-11-2017

AFL opportunity

[INSERT interactive item]

You may find the self and peer assessment resource doc useful:

Pitch to Hollywood – self and peer assessment 90 KB - uploaded 08-11-2017

Writing and delivering a pitch

This Writing and Delivering a pitch Google HyperDoc is full of useful activities about writing and delivering a pitch. To use this HyperDoc or make changes to it, first log in with a Google account, choose 'file' and select 'make a copy'. Save your copy to your own Google drive and link to it for your pupils. For more information on using HyperDocs in your classroom, have a look at this tutorial on how to create hyper-docs.


Openings to establish plot and genre clues

Some stories start by giving the reader some clues to the rest of the plot. This involves the reader instantly, as they use the clues to try to solve the mystery.

This pupil resource includes a passage from Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Adventure of the Speckled Band and key questions.

The Adventure of The Speckled Band extract 89 KB - uploaded 08-11-2017

Pair/Individual activity

In pairs, encourage your pupils to read the full text of The Adventure of the Speckled Band and identify the clues that help Holmes to solve the mystery. After discussing the story, ask your pupils to work in pairs to create a new mystery to solve. Base the mystery on a song, a school text, a film or a television show, so that the clues have some context and the others in the class can use them to solve the mystery.

Ask your pupils to think about the client:

  • How do they look? 
  • What sort of clothes do they wear? 
  • Do they have an accent?

Ask your pupils to consider the mystery:

They can solve the mystery by naming the film, song, actor or singer at the centre of the case.

The clues

The clues should refer to some of the details of the song, novel or film. Encourage your pupils to create a bogus villain to create a false trail. The clues should be perfectly logical when you know the truth, but not obvious if you don’t!

Pupils should be able to solve the mystery completely when they have worked out all the clues with no loose ends left dangling!

Encourage other pairs to become detectives or Sherlock Holmes to try to solve the mystery using the clues. Encourage pupils to talk to each other about the different mysteries.

Creating mood

Creating mood and genre

This activity could work for settings too. Using the Mirror in the Mist extract, ask your pupils to identify the words that create atmosphere and either describe the place factually, or change the atmosphere created by altering the descriptive detail.

[Mirror in the Mist extract Download]

AFL opportunity

Planning your story 

Don’t forget that character is king in story. When you are planning your plot, remember to consider your character and how they connect to the reader.

Key Questions

  1. Who is my main character?
  2. What do they want more than anything in the world?
  3. What am I going to do to make it difficult for them to get it?

The Planning your Plot Think Sheet resource may help to frame the Who What Why Where When of story in a more cohesive, organic way than other story frames.

[Planning your Plot Think Sheet Download]