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Is Your Young Writer Stuck and Not Sure What to Write Next? Let BAD TOD help!

Badtod bust

These Six Paragraph Types Will Inspire your Young Writer to Keep Moving Forward with their Story.

It happens often. Kids will have a great premise for a story, write for a good ten minutes, and suddenly they’re stumped.

“What do I write NOW?” they might ask. 

Here’s a tool we use to keep our students writing long past the initial writing rush, whether they are writing a poem to celebrate Earth Day, entering a story or essay contest, or simply working on a new piece for their school or homeschool class.

Meet BAD TOD, your young writer’s new best friend. 

Who or what is BAD TOD?

BAD TOD is an acronym we coined that stands for:


Here’s what each provides:

  • Backstory - The background or whatever traumatic event that kicks off the hero’s journey.

  • Action - We love the anticipation, the build-up, and the physical action that makes our blood pump faster. 

  • Dialogue - Helps us imagine a character’s personality, issues, and what’s at stake.

  • Thoughts - Reveals what the hero feels inside, and “makes us worry” and care.

  • Observations - Help us to experience a realization, epiphany, a clue, or an A-ha moment. This is the nugget of wisdom we hope to receive from a story. 

  • Description - Writers use the 5 senses to help readers become immersed in the Special World of the setting.

To make BAD TOD useful and real, we ask our young writers to draw their own version of BAD TOD. Here’s one silly version:


Of course, our students have rearranged the letters to form BAT DAD as well. Whatever works to help them remember!

Bat Dad 1

Encourage your Young Writer to Sprinkle BAD TOD Throughout their Story. 

Your young writer will probably prefer to use one of these six over the others, whether it’s Description or Dialogue. That’s fine. Many authors do. 

Many kids love to have one Action scene after another. If that helps them to move their story forward and “Get the Story out,” excellent! 

That’s what we want!

Later, they might find that sprinkling Dialogue or adding a Backstory helps provide more depth to the characters and the story. Repeating Action over Action might make their Hero seem like a robot, blindly performing tasks without fail. 

Some high-action movies have fallen into this trap. A hero is running across the city to defuse a ticking bomb while thwarting henchmen. 

After ten minutes of running and jumping from rooftop to rooftop, we feel like saying,  “And then? And then?” It becomes a chore to watch. 

Imagine reading it! Or writing it. 

No wonder kids get stuck! 

Here’s the problem. It lacks depth. 

Master Chef sprinkles

Chapter 1
  (Description: Sound & Sight) The leaves rustled on the trees and flew away. 11-year-old Anna, with long brown hair and emerald green eyes,  (Action) sat on the porch near her house.  (Description) The fresh air of Oregon (Action) spread through the wind. 
  (Description) All the houses had cobwebs strung across the roofs, with plastic ghosts hung on the windows. Halloween was approaching soon, and everyone was preparing for it, except for Anna. (Thoughts) She really disliked Halloween. People dressing up in costumes and tricking people who didn’t give them candy was definitely useless.
(Backstory) She remembered that Halloween was the event of celebrating the harvest, but in 2013, everything was different. The foggy afternoon was peaceful, but now, had become spooky. (Action) Anna stood up from her porch and glanced around. Nobody was out. The wind had stopped. Everything was silent, but a meowing sound.
  “Meow, Meow.”
  (Action/Description) Anna froze, and relaxed when she saw an orange and yellow tabby cat at the edge of the road staring at her. It was as if it was trying to talk to her.  (Action) Suddenly a car zoomed by, and Anna prepared to see a dead cat. Instead, the cat vanished.

The mixture of BAD TOD helps retain our interest. This is especially critical at the beginning of a story where we have to quickly capture a reader’s attention. 

BAD TOD can produce intrigue as the story’s world and hero begin to emerge. 

Celine began with a Description of the exterior. We learn about her “Normal World” or “Ordinary World.”

  By switching angles to the character’s Thoughts, we gain a hint of Anna’s interior opinions and beliefs, and a hint of her past.  

After this student was introduced to BADTOD, she began to think beyond her Description anchor and sprinkled a little Backstory, Action, and Thoughts. The results are a bit magical.

BADTOD SpongeBob

So, the next time your young writer becomes stuck or starts to slow down in the middle of their writing, have them think about BAD TOD. 

By intentionally adding Backstory, Action, Description, Thoughts, Observations, and Dialogue into the mix, they’ll be able to imagine slightly different angles to talk about AND significantly make the story more interesting to read!

In our next post in this BADTOD series, we will provide an example of each element found in one of our students’ stories. 

Stay tuned!

Check the articles below

Silence in the Shadows