Chain Writing Lesson Plan

Instructor: Jason Lineberger

Jason has 20 years of education experience including 14 years of teaching college literature.

Chain writing is a fun technique that helps students develop their narrative writing skills. In this lesson, students will read and write dozens of stories in a single class period.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • demonstrate the use of literary elements like narration, plot, characters, setting, conflict, and audience.
  • create collaborative and imaginative storylines.


45-60 minutes

Curriculum Standards


Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences.


Use technology, including the Internet, to produce, publish, and update individual or shared writing products, taking advantage of technology's capacity to link to other information and to display information flexibly and dynamically.

Vocabulary and Phrases

  • narration
  • plot
  • character
  • conflict
  • audience
  • setting


  • writing supplies (paper, pencils, pens)
  • computers (for lesson extension)

Activity Instructions

  • Begin the lesson with a review of narrative terms: narration, plot, character, conflict, audience, and setting.
  • Arrange the class furniture so that everyone is sitting in a large circle.
  • Give each student writing supplies.
  • Start the activity by asking each student to write the first sentence of a story. The sentence should introduce the characters, the setting, or both. One way to support this activity the first time you attempt it is to create and distribute these first sentences to students. You can print them out and randomly give them to students or allow them to pull them from a box. Often middle and high school writers will balk at the amount of blank space on a page, so supplying the opening sentence can ease these writers into the activity.
  • The basic procedure is - read the story, add a sentence that develops the plot or reveals information about the main character. Then students pass the stories clockwise. Once they find their writing rhythm, the stories will flow around the circle, although the pace will slow as there is more for students to read each time before they write.
  • When the stories make it around to the students who started them, those students should add one or two sentences as a conclusion.
  • Share the best lines or entire stories while the class is still in the circle formation. The finished stories won't be polished, but students will have read and written dozens of stories, and they should be inspired to write an original narrative.

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