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Using 50 Word Fiction to support creative writing in school

Learning type: Classroom activity
Category: Creative writing
Programme: 50 Word Fiction
Language: English
Genre: Fiction
Age group: 6-8, 9-11, 12-14, 15-18

Part of the skill and craft of writing is the ability to adhere to a brief. Scottish Book Trust's monthly 50 Word Fiction competition provides a fun opportunity for children and adults of all ages to practise their creative writing skills while following a prompt.

Discover 50 Word Fiction

Here are some ideas of how you can use our 50 Word fiction competition to help support creative writing in the classroom.

Idea generation

Sometimes the hardest thing about creative writing finding an idea for a story. 50 Word Fiction provides a different prompt each month and is a great way to encourage children and young people to see themselves as writers. By writing their story, editing, proof-reading and checking the word count they are honing their skills. Previous themes have been around a puppy, a key, a camera, a pair of wellies or a summer of football. While each subject will appeal more to some young people than others, all are very accessible and recognisable topics. You could also use a selection of images based on the prompt to help generate ideas for writing. Websites like Pexels(this will open in a new window) and Unsplash(this will open in a new window) have thousands of high quality images on a huge variety of topics, showing different elements, details and angles to spark imaginations. Remember to check copyright rules for photo websites and always credit creators.

Quick lesson activity

50 Word Fiction offers an ideal quick lesson activity to motivate pupils to get writing. It’s also ideal if you’re ever covering another class at short notice as the competition is open to all ages. The rules are simple and easy to follow and while the pupils write, the teacher can join in too to model the writing experience. Once every person has finalised their 50 word story, all entries can be submitted to the website for consideration by the judging panel. There are always great prizes to be won for an extra incentive!

Timed writing

The writing session could be timed to 15 or 20 minutes if this helps to get pupils started. Lots of authors find structuring their day into chunks or blocks of time essential to their writing discipline. It helps them to get into the routine of writing each day, supports them in maintaining their focus for a set time period and builds in regular short and longer breaks. For children and young people, a short chunk of time for writing can be just long enough to get them excited about the process. As they build their enjoyment their stamina and concentration will also develop and grow.

Get everyone involved

Another use of the 50 Word Fiction competition can be as a regular, monthly activity for a whole class or school or as a homework activity. It could also be incorporated into in-school parental engagement sessions. 50 Word Fiction awards prizes for different age categories and accepts submissions in English, Gaelic and Scots – it is open to all and offers everyone the chance to have their work published on our website and potentially win a prize. Using 50 Word fiction in school can be a great way for children and young people to dip their toe into the water to begin writing. For young people who want to know more about our opportunities, competitions and workshops, we have a dedicated section on our website for young writers(this will open in a new window).

Take part in our 50 Word Fiction competition

Find out more about creative writing for schools.