Writing through 'reverse reading'

In this activity learners construct a story based on comprehension questions.

Jackie McAvoy

Students often get muddled when writing a narrative because they concentrate too much on the plot of the story. As a result tenses and syntax suffer. This activity helps students both with a storyline and with the tenses.


Make copies of these questions for each pair / group of students:

  1. What was Mr Jones's job?
  2. What was he going to do? Why?
  3. What was the weather like?
  4. What did he decide to do after that?
  5. What didn't he want to do? Why?
  6. What was the surprising end?

NB: You can choose which tense you want to focus on depending on the class. For example, you could ask What did Mr Jones use to do? or What would he like to do next? or What has he done that no one else knows about? etc. You can also ask questions that elicit different vocabulary too, e.g. What was he wearing at the time? for question 3.


  • Tell students that you had a text for them to read but unfortunately you left it at home! However, you still have the comprehension questions.
  • Give out the questions to each pair of students and ask them to:
    • read all the questions.
    • imagine and write the answers to them.

The answers should have some connection with each other and should be in note form only.

  • Now, using their answers, they have to construct a story about Mr Jones. Either now or previously the students need to have learned appropriate linking words, e.g. however, all of a sudden, so, etc.
  • When the students have finished writing, swap the stories with another pair. They should read the text and see if they can answer the comprehension questions.
  • Put the stories up around the classroom for everyone to read and get them to decide which one is the best, funniest, most unusual, etc.
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