Q & A Story Building

Some people shy away from a challenge that requires creativity because they don’t consider themselves very creative. I think everyone has the ability to create, but people need different sources of inspiration and different amounts of prompting. Writing original stories can be fun forms of expression, and if given appropriate support, all students are capable of producing them. The finished product is not only something the author can take pride in, but it is also something that should be shared. Students can enjoy their classmates’ stories and possibly learn from.

One approach to story writing is having the author answer a set of questions. More detailed than simply who, what, when, where, and why, the questions guide the plot from scene to scene. The teacher creates the questions, and as a set they target a specific linguistic feature, from use of the passive voice to a specific verb tense. The complexity of the questions can be increased or decreased to suit the students’ level. The activity is both fun and effective.


Level: Low-intermediate

Language focus: Simple past tense

Story Title: A Scary Train Ride


  1. There was a train. Which city did it leave?
  2. When did the train leave (time of day/ time of year)?
  3. Who was on the train? (one person)
  4. Where did this person need to go?
  5. Why did this person need to go there?
  6. Why did the person get off the train early?
  7. What did the person see when she/ he got off the train?
  8. How did the person feel at that moment?
  9. What strange thing happened to the person?
  10. What do people think? Do they understand what happened?



A Scary Train Ride


                There was a train. It left New York. It left on a dark night in January.  A young man was on the train. He needed to go to Chicago. He wanted to visit his brother. The young man became sick, and he got off the train early. He saw a woman in a black dress, black hat, and black glasses. He felt afraid. The woman came to him, said nothing, and took his hand. A different train came, and they got on it. The train left. Where did it go? No one knows. No one was on that train…only the young man and the woman in black. People say it was a ghost train.

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