High school English teachers often ask their students to write a paragraph using random words they assign to help students learn how to organize their thoughts, develop consistent plotlines and use transitional phrases. Some teachers also use the exercise to introduce students to vocabulary words or terminology that might show up in future reading assignments or tests. As a student, craft your paragraph around a central idea so your words and sentences flow together smoothly. Look up words you don't know to ensure you use them in the right context and follow all rules of grammar.
Sort the Word List
Organize the list of words into parts of speech, such as nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs. Read through the sorted words several times to see if any ideas for a short story come to mind. You can choose almost any subject matter as long as it's appropriate for the classroom. Look up unfamiliar words in a dictionary or a thesaurus so you can fit them into your paragraph where they belong. Avoid adding prefixes or suffixes to any words on the list unless your teacher says it's OK to do so.
Stick With a Central Idea
Brainstorm a central theme or topic for your paragraph before you start writing. Jot down a few bullet points or a short outline to ensure your paragraph has a beginning, middle and end. A random-word paragraph involves creative writing, so feel free to write your paragraph about fictional characters, a make-believe world or a utopian society. You can also choose an everyday pastime, such as eating breakfast, participating in gym class, playing a video game or hanging out with friends for your random-word short story. Don't leave out any words from the list, and limit your paragraph to one plotline or story arc to avoid rambling.
Use Transitional Phrases and Dialogue
Use transitional words, such as "then," "of course," "because," "in addition to" and "also" to link your sentences together. The words in your teacher's list won't naturally go together, so you must create ways for them to fit into your story. Use two or three words from the list in each sentence to avoid long, word-packed sentences that don't make any sense. Incorporate dialogue into your story to provide a natural way to transition between thoughts. Your teacher wants to see how well you can creatively connect ideas to form understandable sentences.
Focus on Your Writing Skills
Focus on the details. Don't add a word from the list onto the end of a sentence if it doesn't make sense. Start some sentences with prepositional phrases, and include interrogatory, exclamatory and declarative sentences in your paragraph. Your teacher wants to evaluate your writing skills and your critical-thinking skills to see how well you can develop a complex paragraph using random words. If you can't think of a way to incorporate a specific word into the paragraph, write the paragraph using the other words and go back to it later. As with any creative-writing assignment, avoid grammatical errors, spelling mistakes and punctuation errors and follow subject-verb agreement rules.
As curriculum developer and educator, Kristine Tucker has enjoyed the plethora of English assignments she's read (and graded!) over the years. Her experiences as vice-president of an energy consulting firm have given her the opportunity to explore business writing and HR. Tucker has a BA and holds Ohio teaching credentials.