Class of Dave - Previous Tasks - you are always free to have a go at one of these instead of the current week's set tasks - you can submit any task any time to compete for the next prize.

Submit your work via my contact form or email your entry- please copy your work into the body of the email. 

 

Creative Writing

Reading Springboard

Oct 29, 2012

Write a story where a person dressed in a Halloween outfit appears at someone's back door.

Read the opening few paragraphs of any book by any author. As soon as you get an idea for branching off, stop reading and start writing how you think the book might continue. As soon as you're done, enjoy going back to see what really does happen, of course.

Oct 22, 2012

Write a poem where something that is inanimate suddenly comes to life.

Read the first two chapters of Hollow Earth by John and Carole E. Barrowman. You will have now met three different children - an unnamed boy, Matt and Em. Pretend you are one of them and write down what has happened to you with lots of description about how you felt at certain points.

Oct 15, 2012

Write a poem which uses your own name in some way.

Dip in wherever you like in the poetry anthology Pumpkin Grumpkin collected by John Agard & Grace Nichols. Now write your own nonsense poem.

Oct 08, 2012

Write a story where a new-born baby is mentioned in the first paragraph.

Read the first chapter of Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens. Oliver just makes it into the world. He's a fighter. Imagine you're writing about the surgeon when he returns home from his day's work. Describe the birth of Oliver, but using his point of view.

Oct 01, 2012Write a story which opens with a meeting between two potential enemies who are trying to agree to cooperate against a third enemy.

Read the first two chapters of Brothers to the Death by the fabulous Darren Shan. There is a tense stand off between the vampires and the Nazis. Imagine you are Mika. Write a report of the meeting to deliver to the other vampires who weren't there. As a reader, if this is your first taste of Darren Shan, you might like to read the first three novels in the Larten Crepsley saga before reading on. You might even like to read the twelve vampire novels in The Saga of Darren Shan too.

Sep 17, 2012

Write a story which opens with a crime that is being or has just been committed. Your main character could be a victim, a police officer, a passerby, a criminal, a parent - it's up to you, it's your story.

Read the first two pages of Lifters by Joe Craig. It's an action-packed opening. Once you get to the opening of the wallet, stop reading and write your own continuation. After you've done the task, finish reading the book - it's great!

Sep 10, 2012Write a story where a map is found near the beginning. Who finds it? What's on it? It's up to you.

Read Chapter One of Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. Now imagine you are Jim, but this has all happened in the modern day. Pretend you're him and write what happens next.

July 23, 2012

Write a poem with the title:

The Magic Camera

Read the opening chapter of Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. When you get to the end of the chapter, you'll find that she is eating cake. Before reading on, you decide what might happen to her next and write your own version of Chapter Two using its real title 'The Pool of Tears'.
July 16, 2012

Write a story with the title:

The Empty Cup

Read the opening of The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd. Once you have discovered what happens to Salim, choose a tourist attraction you have been to and write the opening of your own mystery which takes place there.

July 09, 2012

Write a story with the title:

Lily

Read any poem by any poet. Now write your own. If the poem hasn't given you an idea for your own, then move on, choose another.

July 02, 2012

Write a story with the title:

House

Read the prologue of White Dolphin by Gill Lewis. Imagine you are the narrator. Instead of being too afraid to follow the dolphin, write a continuation where the dream becomes a reality and you do follow.

June 25, 2012

Write a story with the title:

The Empty Tube

Take a look at the cover of The Girl in the Mask by Marie-Louise Jensen. What you get is a cracking story set in the age of highwaymen. Your task is to use the title for your own story, which could be historical or it could be very modern. The mask in your story might not be a real one.

June 18, 2012

Write a story with the title:

The Scissors

Read the opening page of Marshmallow Skye by Cathy Cassidy. Before you find out too much about Tanglewood, write your own piece imagining that you have gone to stay there. You are on your own and you decide to explore the house ...
June 11, 2012

Write a story with the title:

It's Only a Picture

Take a look at the front cover of Bullet Boys by Ally Kennen. Read the blurb as well, if it helps, but before starting the book properly, write your own opening chapter. The main characters are three boys.

June 04, 2012

Write a story with the title:

The Candle and the Hare

Take any novel by any writer. Read the opening, then imagine you are writing a chapter which deals with what happened yesterday, a month ago or a year ago.
May 28, 2012

Write a story with the title:

Booklet

Study the front cover of The Cabinet of Curiosities by Paul Dowswell. Imagine you are a character who lives in one of the buildings. Before you read any of the story, write an opening which includes a sword and a bottle.

May 21, 2012

Write a story with the title:

Pike

Read the first chapter of any novel by any writer. Choose any character other than the lead character and rewrite the chapter from their point of view - it doesn't even have to be a character that's mentioned, it could be a character that you've totally made up.

.

May 14, 2012

Write a story which contains these items:

A pencil
A yellow sign
A green monster
A girl with sunglasses

Read the first 15 pages of The Brilliant World of Tom Gates by L.Pichon. Before finding out what Tom did in his holiday, write your own version. You'll already know he can be a bit daft, so make it funny.

May 07, 2012

Write a story which contains these items:

A candle
A wooden sculpture
An old oil lamp
A can of hair spray

Read the opening line of Wereworld: Rise of the Wolf by Curtis Jobling. It's a great opener for a cracking novel, but before you read on, write your own continuation, deciding for yourself what the predator is that's out there for Drew to face.
Apr 30, 2012

Write a story which contains these items:

A map
A special cup
A glass jar
A mechanical monkey

Read Chapter One of Small Change for Stuart by Lissa Evans. You will find out about a money box. Before reading Chapter Two, write your own version of what happens next, making sure that you include the money box.

Apr 23, 2012

Write a story which contains these characters:

A clown
A teenager
A mechanic
A nurse

Read the opening of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang Flies Again by Frank Cottrell Boyce. Dad has got some 'Big News'. Using the same characters, write a different version where the news is different to what's in the book.

Apr 16, 2012

Write a poem which begins with the word:

Midnight . . .

Take a look at Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys. It's a powerful and hard-hitting war-time story which draws on true life events. It contains some shocking scenes. For your task, just use the title and imagine how you might begin a story with the same title, perhaps changing to the English spelling of grey or maybe using a different 3,4 or 5 word title including the word 'grey'.

Apr 09, 2012

Write a story which ends with the words:

"But, of course, this is where it all began."

Choose a non-fiction book by any author. Read as much of it as you'd like to before having a go at the task. Your task is to use some of the factual information you find as the basis for writing a fictional story. If it was me, I'd choose a walking book and start my tale up on the Cumbrian fells.

Apr 02, 2012

Write a story which ends with the words:

"... and down they came."

Read the opening page of My Name is Mina by David Almond. Before turning the page, imagine how the story might continue. Why might she whisper for the moon to make her mad? Why might some people already think she is mad?

Mar 26, 2012

Write a story with the title:

A CUP ON THE TABLE

The Carnegie/Greenaway short lists will be announced this Tuesday. Choose any book by any of the short-listed writers. Just using the title of the book, write the opening to a story which uses the same title.

Mar 19, 2012

Write a story with the title:

THE SECRET ROOM

Read the Preface of Annexed by Sharon Dogar. She explains the idea for her novel before it gets going. Your task is to choose a real person from history and write an imaginary opening for a story where your made-up character is somehow connected to the real person from history.
Mar 12, 2012

Write a story with the title:

THE SHIP OF DREAMS

Take a look at the plan of the paddle steamer and the cast of characters you are given before the beginning of Pull Out All the Stops by Geraldine McCaughrean. Before you begin reading, write your own opening chapter.

Mar 05, 2012

Write a poem with the title:

TREASURE

Read the opening two chapters of Trash by Andy Mulligan. Pretending to be Raphael or Gardo, write your own version of what Chapter Three might be, before you read on.

Feb 27, 2012

Write a story which begins with the words:

" It was impossible."

Read the opening two chapters of The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Imagine you are a friend of Katniss, Prim and Peeta. Write down your feelings before, during and after the reaping.

Feb 20, 2012

Write a story which begins with the words:

" As they passed through the entrance gate, their ordinary day out began to go wrong ..."

Read the opening chapter of The Midnight Zoo by Sonya Harnett. Before you read on, write your own version of what might happen next.

Feb 13, 2012

Write a story which begins with the words:

" Forget Friday the 13th, this was Monday the 13th ..."

Read as much as you'd like to of the opening of There is No Dog by Meg Rosoff. God is a teenage boy is what you'll discover. Write your own narrative, first or third person where you are in the role of a god, what you decide for the world is what happens.

Feb 06, 2012

Write a story called:

It Happened One Tuesday

Take a look at the front cover only of Everybody Jam by Ali Lewis. Before you start reading, write your own opening that might fit the title and cover. If you'd like to make it a bit easier, read the blurb on the back before you start writing. It's a great book cover - it demands to be read once you've had a go at the writing task.

Jan 30, 2012

Write a story called:

The Nightmare

Read any poem by any poet. Now write your own. If the poem hasn't given you an idea for your own, then move on, choose another.

Jan 23, 2012

Write a poem which is about a box that contains something special, secret or dangerous.

Read the first dramatic chapter of Wreckers by Julie Hearn. The chapter ends with a real cliffhanger and it is almost impossible not to turn the page straight away, but your task is to write your own Chapter Two before you carry on to find out what really happens.

Jan 16, 2012

Write a story which begins in a school assembly.

Read the first four chapters of The Truth About Celia Frost by Paula Rawsthorne. Imagine you are another pupil in Celia's class and write down what you think about a) what happened in the assembly and b) what happened with Max Jenkins.

Jan 09, 2012

Write a story where one of the settings is a house in the woods. It could be the only setting. It could be haunted. Someone could be trapped there. A strange character might live there. It could be a fantasy story. It could be set in the future.

Read the first four chapters of Dark Woods by Steve Voake. You will now have met Cal and Jefferson. Choosing either of them as your narrator, write a first person account which begins 'Some things in life are more important than others ...' You don't know much about either of them yet, so use your imagination.

Dec 19

Write a story which contains these elements:

A pirate

Cliffs

Treasure

Travel

Mystery

Read the first chapter of Gold Seekers by Jane Johnson. Mam finishes by saying, ' He's a finder alright.' Before reading on, write your own chapter two where Jude once again proves that he is a finder.

Dec 12

Write a story called

THE FAIRY GODMOTHER


Read the first chapter of Magicalamity by Kate Saunders.You soon find out who's at the door as Chapter Two begins, but I want you to imagine that it was you at the door. Write a script for what happens when you go inside.

Dec 05Write a story which begins in a shed.

Read the first chapter of any novel by any writer. Why not just pluck one randomly from a shelf? Choose any character other than the lead character and rewrite the chapter from their point of view - itdoesn't even have to be a character that's mentioned, it could be a character that you've totally made up.

Nov 28

Write a story where a family have just moved to a new town, leaving behind the past and hoping to start life anew.

Read the first two chapters of My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece by Annabel Pitcher. Jamie is the narrator of the story, but your task is to imagine how Dad would write his version of what has happened so far.

Nov 21

Write a poem where one of the words in the title is:

DEVIL
Read Chapter One of  The Devil Walks by Anne Fine. Before reading on, write your own version of what might happen in Chapter Two.
Nov 14

Write a story with the title:

TWO SIDES OF THE COIN
Read Chapter One of An Act of Love by Alan Gibbons. It's a tense opening as the two stories of Chris and Imran intertwine. Your task is to rewrite the same events as a dual narrative, but using Dad and Rafiq as your narrators. 
Nov 07

Write a poem with the title:

WOLF
Read Chapter One of The Cry of the Wolf by Melvin Burgess. Now imagine that Ben decides to go home and confess everything to his father. Write it out as if it's the next chapter.
Oct 31
Your task this week is to write a story that is set at Halloween.
Read Chapter One of The Lunatic's Curse by  F.E.Higgins. Now rewrite the story so far using Rex as your narrator.
Oct 24
Your task this week is to write a story that begins with a suspected murder.
Read to page 18 of Poison Pen  byTanya Landman. Before you read on, imagine you are Poppy Fields and write your next chapter. 
Oct 17

Your writing task this week is to fill in your own missing word and use this as a title for the opening of a story or a poem:

When ________ Turn Bad

It's probably best not to use 'Bunnies' as the missing word as Philip Ardagh has already written a brilliant book with that title, but you could be inspired by him if you like his storytelling style.
Read the prologues + Chapter One of  When Bunnies Turn Bad by Philip Ardagh. You will have disovered a unique storytelling style, plus the crazy characters of Grubtown. Your job is to now tell the opening of the story by pretending to be Jilly Cheeter.
Oct 10
Write a horror story which begins with a character who is terrified - they might be in their bedroom, at school, in a dark forest, alone on a strange street, shipwrecked on an island, stranded on a strange planet - it's up to you!
Read the prologue ( 'The Scared Kid' ) of The Dead by Charlie Higson. Now imagine you are that scared kid - write an expanded story of what you have experienced using the details that you pick up.
Oct 03
Go up to someone in your family or a friend and say to them 'What's the first thing that comes into your mind?' As soon as they give you an answer, your job is to write a poem based on what they say. If you don't like what they say, try someone else.
Find the poetry section in your library and find a poem that you like -any poem by any poet. Either write your own poem about the same subject matter or take a look at the structure of the poem and use the same pattern for a poem of your own. 
Sep 26
Write a ballad which tells the story of two characters who set out on a sea journey. A ballad is a type of poem which has a few variations, so you might need to find out about the ballad form before you start. Read Chapter One of Tom Trueheart and the Land of Myths and Legends by Ian Beck.You will meet Tom and Jollity and discover that they are about to set off on a secret mission. Before you read on to find out what really does happen, your job is to write the next chapter as they set off down to the harbour.
Sep 19

Write a story with the title:

Killer ?????

You have to decide what the second word of the title should be as well as what goes into your story.
Read Chapter One of  Killer Pass by Tom Palmer. This is the fourth book about Danny Harte, mad on football and a keen detective at 14 years old. Danny is outside a fence which has ten houses inside, trying to work out how John Hawley's house was burgled. He's looking into Didier Francois's house at a Ferrari-shaped coffee table. Both are players for his favourite team, City. Imagine you are the security guard who discovers Danny - write the story of your day.
Sep 12

Write a poem with the title:

MONEY 
Read Chapter One of  Billionaire Boy by David Walliams. You will find out the one thing he really wants, but can't have. Using the list of things he has got ( pages 12 & 13 ) imagine a day where he is enjoying one or more of these things - write a description of what he gets up to.
Sep 05

Write a story which begins with the line:

Dear Diary,

Everything has changed.

Read Chapter One of Artichoke Hearts by Sita Brahmachari. Mira's friend Millie arrives to a chaotic morning scene at Mira's house and then they have their first writing class with Pat Print. Imagine you are Millie - write her diary about the same events.
Aug 29
What do you like to daydream about?Write a story where you drift off in class into another world, then that world begins to take over and seem more real than the real world.
Read Chapter One of The Truth About Leo by David Yelland. Leo is daydreaming about football when he is supposed to be concentrating in class. Very soon in the book, you find out why he needs to escape like this. Your job is to imagine you are Flora and tell the same events from her point of view.
Aug 22
The football season is under way once again, so your job this week is to write a story or a poem which is about football.
Read Chapter One of The Kick Off by Dan Freedman. Jamie has been fouled and it looks like he is going to have to take a penalty.  Before reading on, your job is to write what you think might happen next.
Aug 15

Write a story with the title:

THE GHOST GAME
Read Chapter One of The Pickpocket's Ghost by Catherine Fisher. If you find a new edition of it, it will be called The Ghost Box. Imagine you are Sarah and write her diary to explain what has happened and what she thinks about it.
Aug 08

Write a story with the title:

SUMMER RAIN
Find a poetry book by any writer. Read as many poems as you need to in order to find one that you really like. Use any of the ideas in the poem - the theme, people or places mentioned, objects, any inspiration at all - and turn it into the opening of a story.
Aug 01

Write a poem with the title:

ON THE FIRST DAY OF AUGUST


Go into your local public library. Join the library if you're not already a member. Then find the new books section or ask the librarian what new books they have got for young readers. Choose a new book by any author.Read as much of it as you need to in order to do this task: imagine the main character is now a grandparent and they are telling the same tale, but this time to their grandchild. Write it out as a script where the grandchild asks questions and wants more detail. 
July 25
Write a story or a story beginning where someone arrives at a house claiming to be a relative. One of the family could be suspicious about whether the visitor is telling the truth. Perhaps the visitor is an impostor. Perhaps the visitor has a secret plan.
It might take some tracking down but see if you can find Grinny by Nicholas Fisk. Read the Introduction and the first two chapters. You have read Timothy's version of the arrival of Great Aunt Emma. Now pretend you are Beth and write her diary entries for January 14th and 15th.
July 18
Write a story or a story beginning where your main characters live in an isolated place with no neighbours nearby. Give them a problem to deal with, perhaps something to do with their house or a stranger who arrives unexpectedly.
Read to page 21 of Blood Red Road byMoira Young.You have now met Saba, Emmi, Lugh, Pa and Nero. You also know what happened to Ma. Imagine a time before the story begins, you decide how long ago. Write a chapter that might come before and try to use the same narrative style that Moira Young uses for Saba.
July 11

Write a story with the title:

Two Sides of the Fence
Read the first three chapters of  Rani & Sukh  by Bali Rai. It's not for younger readers, but it's powerful stuff. Now imagine a conversation between Jaspal and Nat where they talk about their friends. Write it out as if it's a new chapter.
July 04

Write a story with the title:

Independence Day

Read the first chapter of  any novel  by an american author. Choose a character from the story, then imagine an exchange of letters or emails between them and you, where you find out what their story is and try to give them some advice.
June 27 Write a story which opens at the beginning of a school day. It could start with an assembly, a journey to school, a lesson, a playground scene. It's up to you. Read the first chapter of  The Medusa Project: The Set-Up  by Sophie McKenzie. Now imagine you were one of the other pupils in the assembly. In the form of a script or story, write a conversation that you have with someone who wasn't there.
June 20
This week, you are to open a story or write a poem which includes a close description of any type of weather.

Take a look at the opening sentence of  any novel by Charles Dickens. Pull a few of his books off the shelf until you find a sentence that will inspire you for this task, which is: use his opening sentence for the opening sentence of your own story. My favourite two openings are from A Christmas Carol and Bleak House.


June 13

This week, you have a one-word title for a story:

TREASURE
Read the preface and Chapter One of  Oranges in No Man's Land by Elizabeth Laird. Now write a script for an imagined conversation between Ayesha and her granny as they pause on the street to look back at their bombed house.
June 06
 

This week, you have a one-word title for a poem:

BOB


Choose  any novel by any writer. Read about 10 pages or so or just stop when an idea springs into your head - what you have to do is to imagine a new character comes into the story and changes the direction it is taking - one that you've totally made up, not one that you know is going to be in the story.
 May 30 Write a story where three characters are expecting to go out for a sunny summer's day - they wake up to find that the worst rain and wind ever is howling outside the house. They are going to have to change their plans somehow. Choose  any novel by any writer. Read the as much of the opening as you need to in order to do the task. Invent or use a relative of the main character. Write the script of a telephone conversation where the two discuss what has happened so far in the story. Don't worry if its a historical novel and the telephone wasn't even invented! It'll just make it all the more weird and wonderful.
 May 23 Write a story which is set on a day trip or a residential. It could be a coach trip to a museum or a full week's stay at an outward bounds centre. Read Chapter One of  Percy Jackson & the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan. Now pretend you are Grover and tell the story from his point of view.
 May 16 Write a poem which is full of characters who are really dim, idiotic or just plain bizarre. They might do silly things, wear odd clothes, speak strangely.... it's up to you. It doesn't have to rhyme if you don't want it to. Perhaps each verse is about a different person. Maybe they are a family of oddballs. Read Chapter One of  The Twits by Roald Dahl. Before we get to meet Mr & Mrs Twit, Roald Dahl makes us wonder about men with hairy faces. Your job is to use some of Dahl's thoughts to help you write a surreal story where you do actually go out for the day and every single man on the street has facial hair of some sort.
 May 09 Write a story where your character arrives in a new place for the first time, having left behind an old life.

Read the first two chapters of  Out of Shadows by Jason Wallace. Write a diary entry where Robert explains his feelings about his new school and the pupils there. He might also mention his parents and his fears.

 May 02 Write an acrostic poem where the first letters of each line spell out your name or the name of someone famous.  Choose one or two books by a favourite author of yours. Write a conversation that takes place between one character to another, from the same book or from different books.

Apr 25

Write a story which begins at someone's wedding. It could be about the bride, a guest, the vicar, a band who are playing at the reception. It's up to you.

Choose one or two books by a favourite author of yours. Write a letter, plus a reply from one character to another, from the same book or from different books.

Apr 18

Write a poem from the point of view of a prisoner. They might be guilty or innocent. Their crime might be serious or not so serious. Perhaps they are being imprisoned for no good reason, against their will.

Read the prologue of Prisoner of the Inquisition by Theresa Breslin. It's a historical suspense tale that has been short-listed for this year's Carnegie Medal. Your task is to imagine that you are a witness to this horrific event. Describe what you saw and how you felt before, during and after. You might be for the execution, against it, or undecided.

Apr 11

Write a story or story opener where your main character wakes on an important day and makes a life-changing decision.

Read the first chapter of The Bride's Farewell by Meg Rosoff. It's a great book that has been short-listed for this year's Carnegie Medal. Your task is to tell the story of Birdie waking up on the very same morning

Apr 04

Write a poem which begins with the line:

 

'Today is the day I was told I would die'

 

You could imagine yourself to be a soldier, a prisoner, a police officer, an office worker - just use your imagination. And it doesn't have to be a depressing piece of writing either.

Read the opening of The Death Defying Pepper Roux by Geraldine McCaughrean. You will discover that Pepper is waking up on his fourteenth birthday, the day on which his aunt has predicted that he will die! Imagine you are Pepper looking back over the past year. Write about all the things you have done, just in case your aunt's prophecy came true.

Mar 28

Write a story which begins with a clock going forward in time. Ours have just gone forward one hour for British Summer Time, but yours could go forward one hour, one day or one hundred years - it's up to you!

This week your task is to look for a new book by any writer. Go into your school or public library, see if there's a 'new books' section or just ask the librarian. Take a chance on something unknown. Read the first chapter, then pretend that the main character is writing a letter to someone of your choice.

Mar 21

Write a poem which is based on a news story from a local or national newspaper. The ballad form works very well for this kind of task, so you might want to find a few ballads first to see whether you fancy having a go at the form.

Read the first chapter of When I Was Joe by Keren David. When he is in the police station being interviewed, Tyler falls asleep with his head resting on his arms on a table. Your task is to imagine he has a nightmare at this point and write down what he dreams about.

Mar 14

Write a story where a character has to leave their home town to make a difficult journey to a different place. Try to think of a reason why they need to go there and put plenty of obstacles in their way as they make their journey.

Read the first chapter of Unhooking the Moon by Gregory Hughes. After The Rat has had her tea with her brother Bob and her dad, she reads to Dad from the newspaper and they discuss the news. Imagine that it is today's news they are discussing. Write an imagined part of the story where they discuss what is happening in the world. It can be serious news or entertainment news.

Mar 07

Write a story that begins with the death of a character who is close to your main character. Many novels begin with such an opening - it has been used again and again with great success and it strikes an emotional chord in all of us when we read it.

Read the first chapter of Sparks by Ally Kennen. Now write a chapter that comes before this one. You could use the map at the beginning of the book to imagine what Carla has been doing. Perhaps you could guess at what might be on her 'List of Things to Do' - maybe she's been doing one of them.

Feb 28

Write a poem that tells a story - it must contain:

 

an elephant

a town

a child

a police officer

Read the first chapter of The Magician's Elephant by Kate DiCamillo. In this enchanting fable, you meet a host of characters straight away. Choose one of them. Write a diary entry to explain what they have experienced so far.

Feb 21

Write a story where an ordinary teenager suddenly acquires special powers.

Read the first chapter of iBoy by Kevin Brooks. It is a fantastic book, but be warned, it's a teenage read with some shocking content in it. In Chapter One you'll meet Tom, Lucy and Ben, getting a feel for what kind of characters they are. Write a script for the three of them which takes place on March 4th, the day before the story begins.

Feb 14 

Write a story which begins with a scene involving a Valentine's card.

Read the first two chapters  of Halo by Zizou Corder. You will read about how Halo is found and named by a group of Centaurs. Using the final paragraph of Chapter Two, Halo's first memory, your task is to imagine she has a dream involving Centaurs and humans - tell the story of her dream.

Feb 07  

Write a story which is set in the past. It could be the 1960s, the 1890s or in a far distant past such as Roman times or the Stone Age.

Read the Foreword and Chapter One of Pastworld  by Ian Beck. Imagine you are investigating the crime committed by the cloaked figure You have interviewed Japhet McCreddie and you are writing a report for your boss.

Jan  31

Write a poem where you are waking up in a strange place. You don't know where it is or how you got there. You don't know how to get home and you don't know who might be outside the room you are in.

Read the first chapter of the futuristic novel We  by John Dickinson. When Paul Munro wakes, he cannot speak and he is confused by the tears on his face. Before reading Chapter Two, write your own version of what might happen next.

Jan  24

Write a story where the first word of the title is a colour and the second word of the title is an animal.

Read the first three chapters of White Crow by Marcus Sedgwick. In chapter three you meet Rebecca and her father. Your job is to rewrite the chapter as if it is being told from the point of view of Rebecca's father.

Jan  17

Write a story which opens in a futuristic world. Invent some rules by which the people of that world have to live, but don't tell your reader, just show the characters living by or breaking those rules.

Read the opening ten pages or so of The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness. You'll meet Todd, Manchee and a squirrel. I want you to imagine that there is a much longer 'conversation' between Manchee and the squirrel before Todd pulls him away and hits him. Write it out as if it's part of the story.

Jan  10

Write a poem where you completely exaggerate how wonderful and brilliant you are. If you can find a poem called Who is Who by Tomaz Salamun, you will get a really good idea for what I mean. Your self praise must be completely over the top.

Find a poetry anthology called Read Me and Laugh edited by Gaby Morgan. It has a poem for every day of the year. Open it at a date which is special to you. Read the poem, then write one of your own in the same style, the same form or on the same subject. If you read a poem that doesn't inspire you, simply pick another one and try again.

Jan  03

Write a story which begins on the 1st of January.

It's a new year, so let's try new things - go to your library shelf and read the opening paragraph of any book by a writer you've never heard of. Your writing task is to continue the story how you think it might go.

Dec 20

Write a story where three or four generations of the same family are all staying together in the same house at Christmas time. The house might belong to one of them or perhaps it is a rented holiday home. Does it go well or does it go badly? You decide.

Read the opening chapter of The More the Merrier by Anne Fine. You will find out about Ralph and his mad family on Christmas Day. When we flash back to Christmas Eve you discover that they all arrive in different clumps, but I want you to imagine that they all arrive at the same time. Write a script or story where they are all talking in one big conversation.

Dec 13

Write a story or poem which contains any or all of these words:

 

Christmas

Snow

Winter

Cold

Dark

Joy

Feast

Present

Read the opening of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. This is one of the greatest short reads of all time. Read at least until the part where Scrooge's nephew leaves the counting-house. I want you to imagine the nephew now has a conversation with a stranger in the street. The stranger wants to know all about Scrooge. Write the dialogue they have, either as a script or a story.

Dec 06

Write a story where your main character makes a wish at the beginning. It might come true and go wrong or it might not come true at all. It's up to you. And who do they make their wish to? Why?

Read the first three chapters of Wishful Thinking by Ali Sparkes. She is one of my favourite authors. Kevin is about to tell his friend Tim what has happened, but I want you to imagine he comes to tell you instead. Write the conversation you have with him as a chapter or script.

Nov 29

Write a story or poem with the word 'snow' in the title.

Read some of the very short stories in Wow! 366 published by Scholastic. It's a great book for finding new authors you might enjoy. You will see that they have each written a story in exactly 366 words - and that is your task too.

Nov 22

Write a poem called 'The Caravan'. Perhaps look up the word 'caravan' first in a good dictionary to find out some of the extra meanings you could explore in your poem.

Read Chapter One of Danny the Champion of the World by Roald Dahl. You find out all about Danny's father and the old gipsy caravan in which they live. Once upon a time, that wagon was on the road. Your job is to tell a story of when it was moving from town to town.

Nov 15

Write a story where somebody gets a surprise inheritance from somebody they have never heard of before. It could be money or a strange object that they get.

Read Chapter One of The Thornthwaite Inheritance by Gareth P. Jones. Ovid and Lorelli talk about two incidents from Sunday and Monday. Choose one or both of these events and write a chapter that could go before Chapter One.

Nov 8

Write a story which is set around Bonfire Night. It doesn't have to include a fire, fireworks, a guy or anything like that if you don't want it to.

The title and the opening line of The Quest of the Warrior Sheep by Christine & Christopher Russell is probably all you'll need to lure you into the book. Having read the first line ( or a bit more if you want ) write your own humorous crisis story for a bunch of ordinary sheep.

Nov 1

Write a story that begins with the opening line:

 

" It was no ordinary Halloween Night ... "

Read the opening few paragraphs of any book by any author. As soon as you get an idea for branching off, stop reading and start writing how you think the book might continue. As soon as you're done, enjoy going back to see what really does happen, of course.

Oct 25

Imagine something that happens to a character which makes them want to leave their home. By accident or on purpose they set out on a journey. Write your story ...

Read Chapter 1 of Red Dog by Louis de Bernieres. There are three days when Tally takes himself off into the Australian bush. Write a script or dialogue as part of a story which tells what Jack and Maureen said or did on one of those three dogless days.

Oct 18

You are lost in a forest. There is a rumour that part of the forest is haunted and that people have disappeared there before. Write your story ...

Read Chapter 1 of The Crowfield Curse by Pat Walsh. Imagine you are Will - write a diary entry about the day when he finds the hob and brings it back to the abbey.

Oct 11

You are in a strange house. There is a painting on the wall. There is something odd about it. It is unnerving you, but you can't take your eyes off it. What happens next? It's up to you ...

Read the prologue and Chapter 1 of Darke Academy, Secret Lives by Gabriella Poole. Imagine you are Cassie - write a diary entry for her arrival at her new school.

Oct 04

Write a story opening that contains three weird people who are acting strangely. They could be male or female, old or young, dangerous or harmless. It's up to you.

Read to P38 of Mortlock by Jon Mayhew. You have now met the weird trio, Aunt Mag, Aunt Jay and Aunt Veronica. Your task is to imagine where these three were before they called at Josie's house. Write this missing chapter. Maybe they're in the woods or by the sea or in a building ...

Sep 27

Write a poem, story or story opening where the sea is featured heavily. Perhaps you are on a boat or an island. Maybe you invent a character who lives by the sea. Or could it be a futuristic underwater story?

Read Chapter One of The Dread Pirate Fleur & the Ruby Heart by Sara Starbuck. Before reading on, imagine you are Fleur writing the story of what you did next. She is in a difficult spot - she'll have to think fast. Bear in mind that she's strong and she's clever!

Sep 20

Twenty. This is your title or a number which appears in the opening of a story. Is there a character aged 20? Are there 20 characters? Are they on a trip? Perhaps something happened 20 years ago? Whatever your tale, twenty must be significant in some way.

The beginning of Running Wild by Michael Morpurgo involves a character and an animal who face a natural disaster. Write the beginning of a story where disaster strikes causing an human and an animal to flee for their lives. What sort of disaster could it be? Why were they together in the first place? How will they survive?

Sep 13

Friday the 13th is considered a bad luck day, but you are to write a story or story beginning which opens on Monday the 13th. It doesn't have to be a bad luck story. Could be good luck. Could be no luck involved at all.

Have a read of The Dying Photo by Alan Gibbons. It begins with a strange man taking a photograph which changes Jimmy's life forever. Your task is to write a story opening where a photograph changes someone's life.

Sep 06

Write a story or poem where two characters believe in two opposing things. Make the characters either friends or family. Make the beliefs small or huge.

I've just finished reading a great book called Legend by John Brindley. What if you were to write a book with the same title? Write a first chapter without giving away too much of what you mean by using the title Legend.

Aug 30

Write a script containing between two and six characters, all of whom are stuck in a lift in a hotel.

Using a favourite character from a book of your choice, write a monologue where they give their opinions about ten different things that you personally like - your chosen character's thoughts may well be totally different to yours.

Aug 23

Write a poem about your summer holiday.

Read Chapter One of Dark Summer by Ali Sparkes. You find out that Eddie is on a tour of a cave system and takes up an offer of adventure from a strange tour guide. Write the opening of a story using a place you have visited - everything is normal until a member of staff offers you a bit of adventure you can't refuse.

Aug 16

Write a story which begins with the line: "When you are lost on your own out in the hills and it is going dark, this is when you wish you'd remembered to bring your mobile phone ... "

Read Chapter One of Jack Slater and the Whisper of Doom by John Dougherty. You find out that Jack has a daydream during which he gets rudely brought back to reality by Mr Ashford, the deputy head. Write your own story about you having a daydream at school and getting woken up by a teacher.

Aug 09

Write a poem where every line begins with the words 'August is...'

Read the dramatic Chapter One

of Shadow Forest by Matt Haig. In Chapter Two, Sam and Martha have to go to Norway to stay with their Aunt Eda. Imagine that Sam writes a letter or an email to a school friend to explain what has happened.

Aug 02

Write a story or story opening which contains a zebra, a desert, cold and the colour blue. 

Using a book of your choice that you have read all the way through, write an alternative ending.

July 26

Write a story or story opening which contains a desk, an acrobat, rain, a castle and a character who says, 'Never, never, never!' Using a book of your choice, imagine you are a school teacher who has given a detention to the main character. Another character from the book suddenly turns up, uninvited, to the detention room. Write it out as a story, story opening, or script.

July 19

Write a story, story opening or poem which is not set in this world. 

Read the opening of Beast by Ally Kennen. Take care - this is a teenage read with some strong language and violence in it. Pick one of Stephen's 'ten worst things' he's done and write up the story of it, pretending to be Stephen.

July 12

Write a story or story opening that begins with an old man sitting on a bench. Who is he? What is he doing there? Where was he yesterday? How is he feeling?

Read the opening of Mondays are Murder by Tanya Landman. You will find out about a character called Bruce Dundee who Poppy Fields and her mum, Lili, meet at a service station. I want you to imagine that Poppy has a nightmare about Bruce. Write it up as vividly as you can.

July 5

Poetry this week - you are to write an eight-verse poem, where each verse is a haiku. You'll need to find out what a haiku is if you don't know already. The title of the poem is: 'Summer Snapshots'. Your haiku might take the English form of carefully counted syllables or the Japanese form which will give you more freedom. Again, you'll have to find out what I mean by all that!

This one's for Harry Potter fans. Before Book One, Harry had a life. I want you to imagine that Harry had an adventurous summer holiday once, in the days before Hogwarts. Write it as a story or story opening. If you want to, you can write in the first person, pretending to be Harry.

June 28

A script this week: two characters are having an argument during which the word 'football' is mentioned. What happens next or who else comes into the dialogue is up to you.

Read Chapter 1 of the The Great Hamster Massacre by Katie Davies. You'll find out a bit about Anna and her brother Tom. In the story that Anna tells, her mum doesn't want her to have a pet hamster. Your task is to write a scene where her and Tom are trying to persuade her to have one. Anna's Gran also lives with them, so you could put her in it too. You could write it as a story or a script.

June 21

 

Not everyone's interested in football, but I'm keeping to the sporting theme this week. Your task is to write a rhyming poem about a sport of your choice.

Read the opening of Dream On by Bali Rai. Jit would love to go to the trials, but he knows that he'll upset his dad if he does. Your task is to write a story opening or complete story where someone faces a dilemma about whether to disobey or upset a parent.

June 14

The World Cup began on Friday, so the obvious choice for this week's task is to write a story, story opening or poem about football.

Read the opening two chapters of Foul Play by Tom Palmer. Now imagine it is the next day and Danny is telling his mate about what happened. Write out their dialogue as a script.

June 7

Write a story or story opening with the word 'Rain' in the title. The beginning might contain a heavy summer rain storm perhaps.

Choose any novel by Darren Shan. Read Chapter One, then close the book and write your own version of what might happen in Chapter Two.

May 31

This week, the 70th anniversary of the Dunkirk evacuation has been in the news. Your task is to write a poem, story opening or complete story where a soldier has to be rescued from a desperate situation.

Find the poem Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll. It's a brilliant nonsense poem that completely makes sense. But it makes a different sense to different readers. Your task? Invent your own made-up words and write your own nonsense poem, inspired by this amazing piece of writing.

May 24

Write a story or story opening which contains a swimming pool, an ice cream, sunshine, a family, a shop and a character who says, 'Wow, what a day!'

Using a book of your choice, imagine you are the next door neighbour of the main character. You are also a gossip and you decide to tell your other neighbour everything you know. Write out what you say as a dialogue with the other neighbour asking you questions every now and then.

May 17

Write a poem entitled 'All the Fun of the Fair' - use your imagination - it doesn't have to be about a real fairground.

Read the opening of The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd up until the point when Salim disappears. Write a poem, story or story opening where someone disappears from a very public place of your choice.

May 10

You are entering a haunted house. Write a description of your movements, the sights and the sounds. Find the book Once by Morris Gleitzman. Read Chapter One. Imagine you are Mother Minka. Describe the scene from her point of view. 

May 3

Begin a story with the line: 'It wasn't a dream. It was real . . . '

Choose a book from this year's Carnegie or Greenaway short list - read the opening - write a 3-minute radio script to promote it.