Sentences and variations – creative writing

Using an image stimulus from Robert Gonsalves, students explored sentence variations based on a writing exercise from the ETA publication Creative Horizons (2019) edited by Mel Dixon. Students worked in small groups to complete these activities:

Warm up

  • scrutinise your image
  • gather words and phrases – descriptive terms for each of the senses
  • share with your group
  • go deeper – ask questions: how has this happened? what happens next?
  • what metaphors and sifts are suggested?
  • go deeper still – can you identify thematic threads? conflict? is a narrative suggested?
  • share these with your group

Revise sentence types

  • simple: contains one verb
  • compound: two or more complete sentences joined by a conjunction eg. for, and, but, or, yet, so
  • complex: two or more complete sentences, one being dependent, joined by subordinating conjunctions (adverbs and relative pronouns) eg. after, before, while, when, although, because, though, unless, until


  • write a narrative using this sentence pattern from the words and ideas inspired by your image
  • share with your group

Activity 1

  • write your phone number at the top of a page: 0422 639 718
  • separate the numbers – zeroes become 10, ones can be left as is or combined with the following number: 10. 4. 2. 2. 6. 3. 9. 7. 18.
  • write sentences using the numbers in order – 10 words, then 4 words, then 2 words …
  • create your own paragraphs from these sentences
  • repeat using your group member’s phone numbers
  • share and discuss

Activity 2 (will need prep time – cutting up numbers and sentence types which are then placed in envelopes or small bags)

  • students take turns to pull out a number from the ‘paragraph’ bag, then pull out the required number of sentence types from the ‘sentence’ bag
  • write a narrative in the given order of sentences
  • repeat until your narrative is complete
  • share with your group

Activity 3

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