The Five Ws form my condensed version of the Elements of Short Stories.
These have been designed so both you and your child can read and understand them together.
In any case, I don't take away points if they're not followed.
I'd rather have the creative juices flow.
Who is in the story?
These are the people, the animals, the dolls, the friends... anyone you need to be part of the story. The trick here is to write something that the readers of your story, will remember about them. If you have lots of people, this will be hard to do. Try with fewer people or characters first... they don’t have to be people at all.
What is going to happen?
Any story has things that happen, one at a time, leading up to the ending. Sometimes the beginning gets us interested, sometimes it’s just there because it has to be, and you want to build up to a big kaboom! As you like, but try to feel how and when you will make your readers understand what you want to say. If it’s all in the first sentence, it really wasn’t a story, was it?
When will you be in it?
Your story is your story but is doesn’t have to be about you. In fact, it’s probably better if it’s about someone else, someplace else... and even at some other time. Here you have to choose how you are looking at what happens. Are you there, totally into it? Or are you a bystander, just looking on? Do you feel anything while it’s happening? Or maybe you’re more like a news broadcaster on TV just reporting what happened.
In any case, it’s your choice... it’s your story. Just try to think one way and not many. Otherwise the reader, your audience, will be confused, and may not want to read your next story.
Where does the story take place?
Try to imagine the colours, the buildings, the cars... anything that you can think of about where you want your story to be. There are no rules... just for you. I’m only giving you a guideline to get you thinking a certain way. Try to imagine yourself in that place in your mind.
Why are you telling it?
This is the reason or purpose of the story in the first place. If you tell somebody something, shouldn’t you have a reason? Try to think of what that reason is. It will help a great deal as you start writing.
You may have heard the phrase "The moral of the story is...". One definition is "A lesson, especially one concerning what is right or prudent, that
can be derived from a story, a piece of information, or an experience." So if your story is making the reader think about a result which is basically good, the story has a moral or purpose for good.
That's essentially the important Five Ws.