6 Easy Steps to Telling Great Bedtime Stories


3. Near the beginning of the story, insert the character's goals/direction/decision that results from this opening event. This goal or decision should also push the story forward. For example:
And so__________was required to travel to__________.
Naturally, he/she decided to follow the genie's instructions/trail.
With the genie's warning in mind, __________decided nothing would stop him, no matter what the cost.
Bonita decided that she would tell no one about the warning, but instead would discover the secret of the garden.
Alexander decided then and there that he would find out if there really was a magic______________.

4. Somewhere in the middle of the story, plant a surprise, a complication or a change of direction. You don't want things to go smoothly, you want more problems to crop up and tension to increase as the story progresses. If possible, show that your character is now more determined and desperate to continue.

5. Keep classic plot lines in mind. Many bedtime stories are about a quest, an adventure, a journey, a contest, a pursuit, or solving a mystery. Make the overall stakes in the plot high. Children love the idea of a character setting off in pursuit of something that has great importance and/or lasting impact on the lives of the characters. For example, in Jack and the Beanstalk, the mother and son are terribly poor, so when Jack finds the giant's castle, it is the answer to their desperate situation.

6. Paint word pictures. Vivid language will create word pictures or mini movies in your reader's imagination. Use specific nouns -- castle, giant, dwarf, cyclops, unicorn. Use active, exciting verbs, especially those that sound like their meaning such as: thump, whack, bang, whiz, crash, crunch, plop, sizzle, pop, slam, whir, pop, twirl, mince.

• Ready to start writing some of your stories down? Get help on the

Writing for Children message board


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