Guide to Short Story Writing: Holiday Family Narrative

Holiday Family Narrative Short Story Writing Guide

Guide to Short Story Writing: Holiday Family Narrative is a way to enjoy a delightful writing project to keep teens inspired (and writing) at Christmas!

Are you looking for a fun writing activity as a change of pace right before Christmas (or any holiday)?

This one-week writing guide will take your teens step-by-step as they chronicle a memorable family story. The Holiday Family Narrative Guide is user-friendly, self-directed, no busywork and FUN!

Topics covered in this writing guide include:

  • character development
  • simple storyline development
  • simple dialogue
  • mood

What a fun way to accomplish a writing project, preserve a piece of family heritage, and maybe create a gift for Grandma, Grandpa or another hard-to-buy-for relative!

The goal of this project is to have a written copy of a family story, preserved in a form that is suitable to give as gifts. Once the story is written, the student will need to:

  • EDIT: Editing can be a tedious process for some students. This really tests the student’s knowledge and application of grammar. It is strongly recommended that the student read over the story several times over at least three days. It is also strong recommended that this process be followed by some help from a trusted adult who will read it over as well.
  • FORMAT: The formatting process will be influenced by the choice of binding. There are many options available.
    • Simply printing (with a cover) and stapling the story
    • Placing the story in a report cover (the kind you can buy at any office supply store)
    • Having a printer bind it with a comb or spiral binding
    • Having a printer bind it into a soft or hard cover
    • Including the story in a book of pictures and bound (there are many online options for this)

Ready to think about a fun way to preserve your family legacy in more detail? Here are things to consider.


Sometimes teens hate editing! Editing requires more than simply re-reading the story. It requires careful attention to detail. It is nearly impossible to edit your writing directly after its completion. Coming back to it later (preferably at least a day later) will allow you to catch more of the errors.

At 7Sisters’, we use a team approach to editing the ebooks we create. Our products are edited by a team of three, and that helps us to find most of the errors (although a few minor errors sometimes find a way to slip by!). We strongly advise teens to let someone else edit their stories after they have been over the piece themselves two or three times. An objective third party won’t already know what you were trying to say and will see things that you might not notice.

Editing requires a thorough understanding of grammar – applied grammar! However, it is more than just checking for spelling and punctuation. It requires looking at the sentence as a whole and making sure it makes sense. If you want this story to become a treasured gift, don’t skimp on the editing process.


Some basic formatting decisions will be based on the binding style you choose. If the story is only a page, you could choose to frame it. For a slightly longer story you could simply staple or place the finished product in a report cover.

For a crafty way to “finish” your book using an upcycled book cover, see Sabrina’s simple how-to on her Pinterest board.

If the story is longer, or you are combining stories from several family members, you might want to choose a more professional look. Most printing establishments have some binding options in-house. Two of the ones available from our local print shop are the comb binding and the spiral binding. The comb binding is the least expensive, but the spiral binding will lie flat when open and does not add significant cost. It comes in several colors.

If you use one of these options, you will probably be able to choose printing your story in a different size. The most common are the typical 8 1/2 by 11 sheet and the 5 1/2 by 8 (basically a half-sheet). If you choose the latter option, you will need to set your margins for the smaller size. Don’t forget to add at least 1/2 inch all around so that the writing doesn’t go all the way to the edge of the page. (You will also have to adjust your headers and footers if plan to have them.)

Most printers can also do a soft or hard binding, but that is more expensive and usually requires additional time. (Our local printer sends these out to another facility for binding. This adds a week or two before you have the finished product.)


Pictures will really help your story to come alive! If you have digital pictures (or can scan printed pictures) of the main character(s) or the actual event, these will make a great addition. If not, you can create or scan-in illustrations, choose appropriate pictures from stock photos, or add some clip art. Maybe a few scrolls will make the page more interesting. These are also available from stock photos. Keep in mind that colored copies are more expensive, so you might want to reserve color solely for the cover page.

Are you excited about this idea yet? We think this fun way to preserve your family legacy might be just the thing for a special writing project for teens this holiday season. If you have other ideas for making a book like this work well, share them in the comments!

Download your copy of Guide to Short Story Writing: Holiday Family Narrative today!

Read about how to use in this post about preserving family legacy and the Holiday Family Narrative Writing Guide here

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