Creative Writing Exercises for High School

Instructor: Nicky Davis
Creative writing exercises are a good way to help develop voice, learn about the elements of storytelling, and explore new styles and genres. These exercises can also help writers unleash their creativity and break ingrained writing reflexes. Read on for some creative writing exercises for high school aged students.

Group Creative Writing Exercises

These exercises can be used in the classroom, at writing groups or in workshops, or you can use them if you want to practice creative writing with your friends.

Round Robin

In small groups of 3 or 4, each person starts a story and gets 3-5 minutes to write. After this time is up, everyone rotates stories, and picks up a new story where the first writer left off. Do this several times, until everyone in the group has had a chance to contribute to every story. Share the final products with the group.

One Sentence Story

This exercise is the same concept as Round Robin, except that each person only writes a sentence at a time. This can work well for larger groups and can be used for writing fiction, poetry and plays.

Writing Correlation

Start off with each student providing a short but detailed description of a person or place. Passing it around the room, have students take turns removing all detail, leaving only the bare essentials of the information, and then passing it to the next student to re-add the details back in. When the original authors receive their own descriptive paragraph, have them compare the differences between the first and last draft.

List Stories

Each person in the group creates a list of 15 elements that must be included in a story; character names, certain vocabulary, specific objects, certain phrases or lines of dialogue, locations, etc. Then each person is randomly assigned someone else's list, and must create a story including those elements. This can be slightly altered to use for poetry or playwriting as well.


Sit in a group, and have every person say their full sentence. You can complete the sentence as yourself or as a character, but the idea is to be honest and respond quickly without overthinking. Fill in several sentences, and then each student can choose their favorite as a starting point for their writing. Below are some examples of fill-in-the-blank prompts.

  • Nothing justifies the existence of…
  • Age is composed of…
  • The whole world belongs to…
  • Love disguises itself as…
  • Wouldn't it be beautiful to…
  • Small invisible things are…
  • Today the sun is made of…
  • The poem I'll never write begins…

Individual Creative Writing Exercises

The exercises below can help you practice and expand your creative writing skills while working on your own.

Letters to the Past

Write a letter to yourself at a specific point in your past. What do you tell that self about how things are going for you now? What questions do you answer for your past self? What advice do you give?

Found First Lines

Listen for interesting conversations happening in the world, and write them down. Write down specific lyrics in songs or lines from books that resonate with you. Collect these, and try using one of these quotes as a first line in your own writing.

Name that Emotion

Write about an emotion without ever using the name of the feeling itself, or synonyms for it. How do you describe sadness or happiness or anger? Where does a character feel it? What does it feel like?

Coloring a Story

Write a story inspired by shades of a single color. Let each shade be a different character, and imagine how they interact. What does Burgundy say to Scarlet? How is Lime related to Forest?

Interviews with Characters

Imagine your character is being interviewed. Maybe it's for a magazine, for a job, or by the police. What kinds of questions are they asked, and how do they answer? This method can help you better understand and develop a character's voice and backstory.

Learn More About Creative Writing

While writing prompts are a good way to explore creative writing, learning the fundamentals of the different genres is essential to honing your writing craft. offers comprehensive, interactive academic resources to help high school students master prose fiction and non-fiction, dramatic writing and poetry. Courses are available by grade level or subject. Choose from these options, to name a few:

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