Help, my son can't write!

Statistics, as well as my personal experience as a tutor show that boys often find creative writing much more difficult then girls do. Many eleven plus exams require children to complete a 30-minute writing task which might be a story, letter, magazine article or even a speech. Some boys I have tutored have had no idea how to start a piece of writing, even if it is a story about something they are interested in. So half the battle is just getting them to start writing. Many boys are creative and have some great ideas, but just do not see the point of writing, let alone including lots of fancy adjectives, adverbs and literary devices such as simile, metaphor and alliteration.

11 plus writing

Writing for the 11 plus

When I start tutoring a child (boy or girl) for the 11 plus, I don't immediately start them off with a full-blown, half-hour writing task. I normally start with getting them to add adjectives and adverbs to simple sentences and then move on to adding the next paragraph to a piece of text. Early writing homeworks I set are often single paragraphs, for example, describing a character, followed up the next week by describing where the character lives and then a paragraph about their family or friends. I also have worksheets on apostrophes, homophones and worksheets where children write a series of descriptive sentences on a theme such as a desert or jungle, I then ask them to do a piece of writing based on these, for homework. I have devised some creative writing guidance sheets which we will email you for free if you request them

I will finish this post with some hints from a Year 7 grammar school student

(1) Tips on how to make a plan: create your title; write down your main characters/objects and a few facts about them; choose your setting e.g. a unicorn castle or a haunted house; write down a story plan from start to finish; note down any great descriptive words to include.

(2) To create suspense: use short, snappy sentences; use a thesaurus to choose specific vocabulary.

(3) For fantasy writing: use your knowledge of other stories e.g. Harry Potter, and adapt the language they use; choose your language carefully to create the right atmosphere.

(4) For a great setting: incorporate all the five senses; don't always say exactly what something is e.g. "the eight-legged creature" (spider).

(5) Try to begin some sentences with adjectives and adverbs e.g. "Slowly, the snake slithered through the grass".

(6) Don't forget the basics like starting each sentence with a capital letter and ending it with a full stop.