Inspired Tales: Tips for Entering

Inspired Tales: Tips for Entering

There's still time left to enter our brand-new writing competition for children (deadline: 31st December 2021).

Is your child looking for inspiration? Here are some tips and tricks to get you started on drafting your winning entry!


1. Ask lots of questions on your way to school, on a walk through town, or a walk in the park! For example: Who could live in that house? What might happen there? How do you think that got there? Look for anything interesting, or out of the ordinary!

2. Look through some old photographs. They could be yours, or you could look online. Who do you think this could be? What would it be like to visit here? Who do you think lived here? What adventures might they have had?

3. Create a story bag. Put random things into a bag and explore them one by one. Who might this belong to? What could this do? Does this make you think of anywhere a story might happen? Etc. IT can be everyday objects - an old key (what does it unlock?), a bright scarf (e.g., blue for a river or the sea.), an old hat (who might have worn this? What were they like?), a piece of jewellery (what might be special about this jewel?), etc.


Story starters

We love a good story starter! Here are some to get creative with, if you’re a bit stuck. We’d love to hear some of yours too - share your best opening lines for a story here!

It was the first morning at her new school and it was already a disaster.

I closed my eyes and jumped into the icy water.

The footsteps stopped with a dull thud outside his door.

Until the phone rang, it had been a day like any other.

She’d walked past the empty house at the end of the street a thousand times before.

It was raining hard and the bus was late. Again.


Story generator
Try this simple game with your child to generate endless story ideas!

Together, write down as many different character types (pirate, doctor, dragon, astronaut…) as you can, as many settings as you can (castle, desert, tower-block, school…), and a whole list of different objects (treasure chest, golden feather, lantern, one left shoe…) Don’t share all of your ideas at first!

Now cut them all out and put them into three separate bags. Pull out one from each bag - a character, a setting and an object. Can you come up with a story linking all three together? Make up stories together or take it in turns! 


Free-writing (read more from our guide): 

Getting over the blank page…

Ever heard of ‘free writing’? All you need is paper, a comfy space, and a little bit of time. Take a few deep breaths, try not to think about anything, then write down anything that comes into your head. Anything at all! Don’t stop for three minutes! Take a break, then when you’re ready, look through everything you wrote. Put a circle around anything you like or want to explore more. Hopefully this will spark new ideas, and best of all, the page isn’t blank anymore!


Character development
Want to help your child create a really believable character? Try hot-seating! Ask them to imagine that they are their character. Think about what that character is like. Now, ask them questions - anything at all - and see if they can answer as if they were that character. They might be surprised by how creative they can be!


Character profiles

Answer these simple questions on a piece of paper to help bring a character to life:

Describe your character's appearance.

What is your character's name?

What does your character like most?

How old is your character?

What does your character really hate?

Who is your character’s hero? Why? 

What is your character’s worst habit? 

What does your character want most in the world?


I’m stuck. Help!

Every writer gets stuck in their writing, so don’t worry. If your child is struggling to get through their story, here are a few ideas that might help. 

Change something - talk about their story so far and ask what would happen if something was different. What if they didn’t go into the castle? What if they were actually a villain, not a hero? What if the map led somewhere else?

Introduce something - sometimes a story needs a bit of help along its way. Suggest bringing in something new. Who could they meet? What about a new character? What could they find? Could they come across something on their journey? What could happen to push the story along? Could a storm break out? Could they receive a mysterious letter or message? 


Ramping up the excitement

Looking for ways to give your story a bit more edge? Try increasing the stakes! Have a think about your story and look for any ways you could create even more excitement. Don’t get too crazy - it still needs to make sense - but see if you can make it more dangerous, or important, or scary, or funny…

Could the problem be more serious? What if it was life-or-death? What if more people were at risk? What if the character was more scared than they’ve ever been before?

Is it a race against time? Could you introduce a time limit? What if it has to be resolved by midnight? Or there’s only ten seconds on the clock? Or the exam is in ten minutes, and they still haven’t practiced?

How are the characters feeling? Are they quite tired? Could they be exhausted? Are they angry, or are they furious? Are they keen to win, or are they desperate? Why? How can you make it more emotional? How can you build that suspense? 


Writing for audio

Don’t forget, we’re looking for stories that we can turn into great audio! Be sure to read your story out loud, to see how it sounds. Any bits you’re not happy with, see if you can make some changes! Why not read it to someone else and ask for some feedback?


For more information on how to enter, head to the official Inspired Tales page here.

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