Teach English Writing Skills: Mini Saga

Write Short Stories

Writing Skills: idea, organisation, sentence fluency, cohesion

Teachers sometimes need a short activity to fill a time gap, but don’t want a time waster. Here’s a good choice. It helps ESL students learn and practice a combination of English writing skills in one compact, easy to explain activity.

It’s called a Mini Saga.

What’s a Mini Saga

It’s a short creative story writing activity. There are exactly 50 words in the story; the title can be up to 15 words. It can have one or more paragraphs. The 50-word output is not a random collection of sentences.

It is a complete story. There is a start, middle and a meaningful end.


Step 1 Describe It

Explain the concept of a mini saga. Be sure to include its benefits to the student (e.g. story development, strong paragraphs, good word selection, etc.).

A couple of suggestions: don’t focus on the mood or setting; use contractions to save words.

Step 2 Examples

Provide examples so students get the gist. Below are links to a few stories on the web. I think these are examples of fine story telling.

– Click the link to the page and read the third one from the top. It’s about a yellow note.

– On this page, the second story from the top. Touching and well done.

– On this page, second from the top. Just wonderful.

– On this page, scroll down to the middle and look for the mini saga by Jenny that begins, “I sat beside him on the park bench.”

Step 3 Brainstorm

Few students are able to write a good story with little or no brainstorming.  Encourage students to sketch out ideas on a notepad. Get inspired by their own experience. Pick a theme and then work up a specific story line.

Step 4 First Draft

This kind of creative activity requires some time pressure in order to get students to complete a first draft. Otherwise, some students sit and do nothing. 20 minutes should be enough to complete a first draft.

Remind students the story can be improved in a second or third draft.

Step 5 Optional Activity: Pair Work

In the right classroom environment, a pair work extension could be useful.

1 Pair up students to brainstorm ideas.

2 Ask students to pass their first draft to a partner. The partner reads it and ask questions to get clarification. Sometimes, a short dialogue can stimulate new ideas.


Enjoy the English writing lesson.

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