The Story Maker, 3rd Edition - for storymaking children everywhere!

We are very pleased to share this author article with you. Read on to learn more about the new edition of The Story Maker.


My name is Frances Dickens and I worked as a primary school teacher in an inner London school. I wanted a resource that would inspire children of all abilities to write, draw and create their own stories and broaden their vocabulary. So I had an idea for , and working collaboratively with a colleague Kirstin Lewis, an experienced classroom teacher and literacy consultant, we developed the idea into a book!

We created this resource to enable Teachers, Learning Support Assistants, EFL Teachers, Parents, Carers and Older Siblings, to have an easy and enjoyable journey into the world of story making.

In 2007 Speechmark Publications fell in love with our proto-type, and agreed to publish the book ‘The Story Maker’. Two very talented artists, Woody Fox and Joy Haney provided the illustrations and these illustrations are the key to opening young minds to want to create stories.

There are twelve chapters, each focusing on a key element of story writing: story types, settings, characters, objects, feelings, size, speech and sound, speed, texture, smell and taste, colour, time and weather. The chapters also contain writers’ tips and easy to implement suggestions as well as interactive activities designed to help children practice using new vocabulary.

‘The Story Maker’ has now been republished by Speechmark Routledge 2018 and is the 3rd edition of this book. The Story Maker has also been translated into Swedish and Italian.

So what’s new about the 3rd Edition?
The Story Maker 3rd Edition has been published in a bigger format, A4, which enables ease of photocopying, and also gives more space to portray the amazing illustrations, and all sections within the book.

The Narrative Planning section has been expanded to include an example of mind mapping and how through a series of questions stories can be developed. There is also an exciting idea on how to develop vocabulary and make this into a fun activity by introducing Vocabulary Boxes.

As an example if you and the children wish to explore the feelings of characters within the story, go to the section on feelings. You will find fourteen Feeling illustrations on pages 49 and 50. These two pages can be photocopied, and the images cut out for sticking on vocabulary boxes.

If you want the children to explore happy and sad vocabulary, use two boxes. Put happy and sad words into each box. Then ask questions that will help the children choose a happy or sad box. This activity helps make new vocabulary memorable and fun. Children can then become more confident at using new words in their story telling. Vocabulary Boxes have also been introduced in the Size and Speed sections.

Plot, character/s, settings, conflict and resolution
The above has been added to the Narrative Planning section for older children.

Two examples are given from well-known children’s stories, Cinderella and The Three Little Pigs, and spider charts have been created to demonstrate these important steps along with a written explanation. Explaining that a plot develops from ideas, like the ideas that might arise from a mind map, then considering a possible conflict, because conflict creates tension within a story helps make the story more exciting not only for the writer but the reader, which then leads the writer to consider a possible resolution. Thinking about these steps and giving examples enables older children to enrich their story writing and introduce exciting vocabulary.

However The Story Maker 3rd Edition also points out that not all stories have conflict or indeed a resolution. A story can be interesting, factual and amusing, and doesn’t have to be long to be interesting, and some children may like to draw storyboards or just a picture to tell their story.

The Character section has been expanded to include more information on Personality. Younger children would benefit from these ideas, and two contrasting examples are given, one of Red Riding Hood, and the other of the Wolf.

The importance of reading stories is also included in the final pages and has been updated.

A Reading List covering adventure and journey stories, picture books, detective and mystery stories, myths and legends, real life stories, funny books and picture books without words, has been created which offers some really good examples of beginnings and endings, characters and situations and all the other story writing elements contained in ‘The Story Maker’ 3rd Edition.

Featured Books

  • The Story Maker

    Helping 4 – 11 Year Olds to Write Creatively, 3rd Edition

    By Frances Dickens, Kirstin Lewis

    The Story Maker is an innovative manual designed to help children aged 4-11 write creatively. Packed with original colour illustrations, the book is full of handy tips and guidance that will inspire children of all abilities to write their own stories and broaden their vocabulary. Each chapter…

    Paperback – 2018-09-20

About the author

Frances Dickens taught in Lambeth for over 18 years, specialising in art, drama, English as a Second Language and Special Educational Needs. During her time in teaching she had the idea for The Story Maker, a book designed to motivate young children to use their imaginations and write stories. Tried and tested in the classroom, she went onto create The Story Maker Motivator for secondary school students. She is the author of several fiction books for children, including The Giant from Nowherecreated from her drama work with primary school children.