Writing a short story

A short story is a story that is short. There are not many characters in a short story and it is usually set in one place at one time. For the story to be interesting the main character will face some kind of conflict or problem that is resolved through the telling of the story to reach a climax or exciting part which then finishes with a resolution.

Read some short stories by Roald Dahl or other authors to get an idea of what a short story is and then have a go at writing your own!

Plan your short story by thinking about:

Characters – What is the main character like? Name? Age? Who are the other characters?

Setting – Where is your story set? When or what year is it?

Conflict – What conflict or problem will the main character have?

Climax – How will the main character solve the problem? What will happen in the exciting part of the story?

Resolution – What happens at the end of the story?

Be as creative and imaginative as you like. Enjoy the process of writing your own short story.

Enrol in Reading Books for more activities on short stories.

Roald Dahl

This year marks the 100 year anniversary of Roald Dahl. He was born in 1916 and has written many books for children and adults. His most popular work are his children’s stories filled with humour and many of them have been made into films. Some of his famous work include:

  • James and the Giant Peach
  • Charlie and the Chocolate factory
  • Fantastic Mr Fox
  • The Witches
  • Matilda
  • The BFG
  • Boy: Tales of Childhood


Boy: Tales of Childhood is an autobiography about his early school life. In the introduction of this book Roald Dahl writes about his memories:

“Some are funny. Some are painful. Some are unpleasant. I suppose that is why I have always remembered them so vividly. All are true.”

Think about an experience in your childhood that was either funny, painful or unpleasant. You can write about your experience or speak about it to a friend.

Choose a Roald Dahl book or short story to read. If the story has been made into a film, watch the film after you have read the book.

To learn more about writing about yourself go to Autobiography.


Look at these jokes with a partner and think about the response to them before you check the answers.

  1. What is the longest word in the English language?    
  2. What do you call a deer with no eyes?  
  3. What starts with E, ends with E and only has one letter?
  4. What travels around the world and stays in a corner?
  5. What has many keys, but can’t open any doors?
  6. Can a kangaroo jump higher than the Sydney Opera House?                                         
1. Smiles - there is a mile between the first letter and the last letter
2. No idea (no eye idea)
3. An envelope
4. A stamp
5. A piano
6. Yes, because the Sydney Opera House can't jump!

With your partner discuss these questions:

  • Do you know any jokes in English? Tell your partner.
  • Do you know any jokes in your language? Translate them into English and tell your partner. Are they still funny in English? Why/why not?

In your journal write down more jokes that you know from English or translate jokes from your language into English.

For more ideas go to Journal Writing.

Jelly Slugs

As you listen to this video about Jelly Slugs notice how the words are pronounced. In many cases the words have been pronounced as they are spelt to add humour. See if you can complete the transcript by putting the words from the box into the correct position in the transcript. Some words are used more than once.

bodies very open face bulging
serious tail my head eat
heads big eyes slugs long
smile lot Peace want garden
inside army body funny cut

Heeeeello, this is Runforthecube. Today we have Harry Potter Jelly Slugs, Harry Potter Jelly Slugs. Pear, Sour Cherry, Tangerine, Watermelon, Banana. Let’s _____   it up. I _____ to _____ the Jelly Slugs. Mmm. That’s a _____ of _____, that’s a _____ of _____. Don’t go in _____  _____. Behold! My _____of _____. This slug has _____  _____  _____, _____  _____  _____. Ooh, _____  _____. Let’s put a _____ on that _____, let’s put a _____ on that _____. Why so _____? Why so _____? Let’s _____ it _____, so we can see _____. Ooh, _____ gummi. Let’s _____ off this yellow _____ and put it on this green _____ and this green _____ on this yellow _____. Hee hee, this is _____. They have different _____and _____. _____Slugs! Blahhh, blahhh, blahhh. _____, _____ Out!

Now read through the transcript and see if you can pronounce the words correctly.


“Heeeeello, this is Runforthecube. Today we have Harry Potter Jelly Slugs, Harry Potter Jelly Slugs. Pear, Sour Cherry, Tangerine, Watermelon, Banana. Let’s open it up. I want to see the Jelly Slugs. Mmm. That’s a lot of slugs, that’s a lot of slugs. Don’t go in my garden. Behold! My army of slugs. This slug has big bulging eyes, big bulging eyes. Ooh, long tail. Let’s put a smile on that face, let’s put a smile on that face. Why so serious? Why so serious? Let’s cut it open, so we can see inside. Ooh, very gummi. Let cut off this yellow head and put it on this green body and this green head on this yellow body. Hee hee, this is funny. They have different heads and bodies. Eat Slugs! Blahhh, blahhh, blahhh. Peace, Peace Out!”

For more listening activities go to Listening to Lectures.