Writing Activity: Brainstorming

Help your young writer with this activity for planning their book. Tips for deciding on characters, plot, setting and more.

Writing Activity: Brainstorming

Introduction: Brainstorming is a way of generating ideas. Come up with as many ideas on a given subject as possible without judging the ideas. Just write down anything that comes to mind. After the list is completed, pick what you consider the best idea.

This process is helpful in making decisions about all the aspects of writing from picking a topic, to deciding which word best describes an idea. For example: You might choose to start your story by writing “The day was cold.”  Was it icy, frigid, freezing, chilly, cool, or chilblain-producing? Make a list and the right word for the story will become apparent.


The child will use brainstorming to come up with a plan for writing a story.


Several pieces of blank and lined paper and a pencil.

Share with children:

Sometimes it is hard to come up with a plan for your writing. One way writers make up their minds is to brainstorm. Brainstorming is when you come up with lots of ideas that may or may not be useful, but you write them all down anyway. Sometimes a very odd entry on your list turns out to be the best idea after all, and you will recognize it. Here are some exercises that will help you figure out what to write about.

Main Character

Flower GirlOn a blank piece of paper, make a list of at least five characters you might like to write about. Then make up your mind which character is going to be the main character and draw a circle around that character’s name. On the back side of your paper write the character’s name and then list any physical characteristics, like tall or muscular. Next, list any personality traits, such as kind, funny or loyal. You can do this for all of the characters in your story.


On a separate piece of paper labeled “Plot,” fold your paper in thirds. Draw a “B” for beginning at the top of the paper, “M” for middle in the middle third, and “E” for ending in the final third. How will your story begin? What will be the climax or turning point? How will your story end? Fill in some notes in each space.

Problem & Resolution

On a separate piece of paper draw a line down the center of the paper and, on the left, make a list of all the problems (or challenges) you can think of that this character might have. For example, your character may not be a fast runner and must race against someone much faster than he is (Tortoise and the Hare). When you have finished your list, circle the problem you think would be most interesting and challenging for your character to solve. In the right-hand column, make a list of all the ways you can think of that might solve this problem. Circle the solution you like the best.


On a separate piece of paper labeled “Setting,” make a list of possible times (Tuesday afternoon) and places (at the ball game, on a lake in Alabama) - when and where your story takes place. Circle the setting you think works the best for your character and problem.

Now you have a basic plan. You can begin writing your story for the contest. Start with what happens first, then what happens next until you get to the end.

Kids illustration - park scene

Enjoy Your Writing!

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