Creative Writing - Genre, plot and theme

Creative Writing

Plot and theme

Famous films as plot stimulus

Classroom Activity

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.

Talking and listening extension activity

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

Classroom Activity

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:

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

What if? scenario

Classroom Activity

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

Pitch to Hollywood

Classroom Activity

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

You may find the Pitch to Hollywood - self and peer assessment resource useful.

Writing and delivering a pitch

Classroom Activity

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.

Places to start

Classroom Activity

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.

Classroom Activity

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.

For more activities and examples of openings, see the Structure section Openings.

Creating mood and genre

Classroom Activity

The Creating Mood and Genre 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.

Planning your story

Classroom Activity

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.

Nouns in a bag activity

Classroom Activity

Ask your pupils to write down random nouns on individual pieces of card/paper. They could use a dictionary to help.

Fill a bag with the pupils’ nouns. Ask pupils to select three. These three nouns must feature in their story, which could be one of the short forms or it could be a more extended piece of writing.

You could allow each pupil to choose different nouns, or you could choose nouns for the whole class and challenge them to use them as imaginatively as they can. Single sentence/two sentence stories are a good form to use here.

You could extend this activity using three bags for different word types (e.g. nouns, verbs, adjectives) and different coloured paper/card for each of the word types. Alternatively, you could have a bag each for character, setting and theme.

As a variation of this activity, you could use the noun mat download and task pupils to create noun mats for different genres. They can populate the mat by dragging words and/or images from any sources they choose into the boxes for different aspects of creative writing.

Print the mats off and ask your pupils to throw a number of counters onto each mat to generate the elements of their story. They can work as groups, pairs or individually.

Extension for this activity

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

Prompt Generator

This Writing Exercises prompt generator provides a stimulus with a focus on plot, character or setting.