Writing Prompts, Tips and Resources for Children

Do you know a budding young writer?

This page is dedicated to prompts, tips and resources to help young writers to start their stories and get writing!

These resources are intended to inspire stories about Castle Loch (Lochmaben) which could potentially be submitted to the Castle Loch Community Trust and Lockerbie Writers’ annual Children’s Writing Competition. For full details, terms, and to download an entry form, please visit http://www.castleloch.org.uk.

These resources have been put together by members of Lockerbie Writers’ group. Although they have been checked and edited before positing them online, please be aware that resources may reflect the views and thoughts of each individual member. Grown-up supervision and assistance is recommended – and you could even write a story too!


Have a go at writing a story using these five words/phrases which are all taken from natural features at Castle Loch: island, loch, barn owl, scarlet elf cup, and otter. You don’t have to use them in this order, but let them frame your story, set the scene and/or become characters within it.

Prompt provided by Paula Nicolson.


This photograph (below) was taken at Castle Loch, near the ruins of Lochmaben Castle.

Who is it? Who do you think carved it there, and why? There are no right or wrong answers – use your imagination!

Prompt provided by Christina Openshaw. Photograph copyright Christina Openshaw 2019.


Rewrite the following paragraph in your own words, and then continue the story to find out what happens to Jack and Noah …

“Jack and Noah were strolling aimlessly through the wooded area at Castle Loch, Noah kicking the stones which were lying in his path. ‘Ssh!’ whispered Jack. ‘What was that noise?’ They peered into a clearing through the bushes and suddenly a strange figure floated towards them …”

Prompt provided by Betsy Henderson.


The best tips that I can give any budding author are the ones I firmly believe work for me. They are:

· I’m sure you have all painted a picture before. Well, in writing that is actually what we are doing, only using words instead of paint to create our masterpiece!

· Look – really look – at the scene you wish to write about.  Picture it in your mind’s eye. Think how you would paint this scene, then transfer that into words.

· Imagination – you have an imagination. Use it. Let it run free.  This story is your world, and anything can happen there.

· Do you have a character in your story? Show us what they look like. Tell us the way they dress, talk, and walk.

· When (at last) you have your finished work down on paper, read over it again. Is your spelling alright? Have you kept within the word count if there is one? Read it again if necessary until you are happy with it. 

· Get someone to read your story out to you, and really listen to it.  How does it sound? Are you 100% happy with it? Good – now submit it!

Tips provided by Jack McCauley.


Pretend you’re about to go on an adventure around Castle Loch with your best friend. What do you see, what do you do and what happens to both of you at the end?

Prompt provided by Paula Gilfillan.


As a primary school child, I have no recollection of reading anything other than the books provided by the school; they were the “Janet and John” series. One memory which stands out in my mind was Janet and John’s dog, named Spot. This was the name given then to a dog my mother took in for the family – I have no recollection at all of being bought books; this in all probability may have been the fact I was one of eight. Money would have been tight, and there were also duties to be done; helping to care for younger siblings; as was the case in the 1950s and 1960s.

This was also the case as a teenager. Again any books read were those provided for the school for English Literature, which I found boring. And so I wrote, poetry mainly, and doodled. Writing poetry, I recollect, was in order to let off steam (a great way to cope with living with seven other siblings) or to just let my imagination run wild. 

I had a very vivid imagination in those days; I remember writing about an owl I would have conversations with; I’ve had an infinity with owls ever since.

It was when my three children came along that I began to buy children’s books, or borrow them from a library (there were no libraries in my younger days!) Reading to them was a delight; the books were mostly Puffin books. I read them still to my youngest granddaughter … The Puffin Book of Five Minute Stories; illustrated by Steve Cox; also the books, Collins Nursery Treasury by Jonathan Langley (also illustrated) and The Complete Adventures of Peter Rabbit by the one and only ‘Beatrix Potter. I totally recommend these books. I feel the illustrations hold children’s attention.

My advice to children writing for competitions is: Have fun! Write out the story without much thought; let the pencil or pen take on a life of its own; then rewrite, and rewrite if necessary, and let the imagination run freely.

I wrote a short children’s story for my granddaughter which I read out at a meeting (Lockerbie Writers) and it is this which I’m using as a prompt for Castle Lochs Children’s writing competition.

The prompt is: Imagine yourself as a fish; not an ordinary fish, but one who delivers the mail to other fish; insects and other creatures who live in the Loch. Are you delivering a birthday card, or a letter? Have a conversation with the one you deliver it to.

Words and prompt provided by Kath J. Rennie.


Use the picture (below) as inspiration for the beginning of your story. Don’t focus too much on having a perfect story. Just write, write and write and let the ideas pour out onto the paper.

Then, go back over your writing with a big highlighter pen and mark the parts you like the best. Use these ‘best bits’ to help you write your story.

Prompt provided by Paula Gilfillan. Photograph copyright Paula Gilfillan 2020. All rights reserved.

We’ll be posting new prompts and resources throughout the summer! Subscribe to the blog and follow our Facebook page to receive updates.