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Use tools such as graphic organizers such as those found below to logically sequence your narrative if you are not a confident story writer. If you are working with reluctant writers try using prompts to get their creative juices flowing. Spend the majority of your writing hour on the task at hand, and don't get too side tracked editing during this time. Story structure and continuity Does make sense and does it flow?
Character and plot analysis. Are your character's engaging?
Finally, get someone else to read it. Take on board their feedback as constructive advice. Although narratives can take many different forms and contain multiple conflicts and resolutions nearly all fit this structure in way or another. The setting of the story often answers two of the central questions of the story, namely, the where and the when.
The answers to these two important questions will often be informed by the type of story the student is writing. The setting of the story can be chosen to quickly orientate the reader to the type of story they are reading.
Creating Stories with Children
For example, a horror story will often begin with a description of a haunted house on a hill or on an abandoned asylum in the middle of a woods. If we begin our story on a rocket ship hurtling through the cosmos on its space voyage to the Alpha Centauri star system, we can be fairly certain that the story we are embarking on is a work of science fiction. Having the students choose an appropriate setting for the type of story the student wishes to write is a great exercise for our younger students.
It leads naturally onto the next stage of story writing which is the creation of suitable characters to populate this fictional world they have created. However, older or more advanced students may wish to play with the expectations of appropriate settings for their story.
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They may wish to do this for comic effect or in the interests of creating a more original story. For example, opening a story with a children's birthday party does not usually set up the expectation of a horror story, and indeed it may even lure the reader into a happy reverie as they remember their own happy birthday parties. This leaves them more vulnerable to the surprise element of the shocking action that lies ahead.
Once the student has chosen a setting for their story, they need to get started on the writing. There is little that can be more terrifying to English students than the blank page and its bare whiteness that stretches before them on the table like a merciless desert they have to cross.
Give them the kick-start they need by offering support through word banks or writing prompts. If the class is all writing a story based on the same theme, you may wish to compile a common word bank on the whiteboard as a prewriting activity. Write the central theme or genre in the middle of the board. Have students suggest words or phrases related to the theme and list them on the board. You may wish to provide students with a copy of various writing prompts to get them started. While this may mean that many students stories will have the same beginning, most likely they will arrive at dramatically different endings via dramatically different routes..
A complete unit of work on narrative writing for teachers and students. Teach your students to write creative narratives and stories through proven methods of character creation, plot development, researching and writing skills. There is a bargain at the centre of the relationship between writer and reader.
That bargain is that the reader promises to suspend their disbelief as long as the writer creates a consistent and convincing fictional reality. The best way of doing this is through writing that appeals to the senses. Have your student reflect deeply on the world which they are creating. What does it look like?
What does the food taste like there? How does it feel like to walk those imaginary streets and what aromas beguile the nose as the main character winds their way through that conjured market? Give consideration to the when, is it a world of the future where things are cleaner and more antiseptic? Or is it an overcrowded 16th century London with human waste stinking up the streets. If students can create a multi-sensory installation in the reader's mind then they have done this part of their job well.
Monty Burns - A classic Villain first and foremost who can also display a more complex and warm side when required. Now that your student has created a believable world, it is time to populate it with believable characters. In short stories it is important that these worlds are not overpopulated beyond what the skill level of the student can manage.
For the most part, short stories usually only require one main character and few secondary ones. Think of the short story more as a small scale dramatic production in an intimate local theater than a Hollywood blockbuster on the grand scale. Too many characters will only lead to confusion and become unwieldy with a canvas this size.
Creating believable characters is often one of the most challenging aspects of narrative writing for students. Fortunately, there are a few things we can do to help students here. Sometimes it is helpful for students to model their characters on actual people they know. This can make things a little less daunting and taxing on the imagination. Students should give some in-depth consideration to the details of who their character is: How do they walk? What do they look like?
Do they have any distinguishing features? Including small details such as these bring life and therefore believability to characters. Students can even cut pictures from magazines to put a face to their character and allow their imaginations to fill in the rest of the details.. Younger students will often dictate to the reader the nature of their characters.
For students to improve their writing craft, it is important they know when to switch from story-telling mode to story-showing mode. This is particularly true when it comes to character. It might be a small relayed detail in the way they walk that reveals a core characteristic. For example, a character who walks with head hanging low and shoulders hunched while avoiding eye contact has been revealed to be timid without the word once being mentioned. This is a much more artistic and well-crafted way of doing things and less irritating for the reader.
A character who sits down at the family dinner table and immediately snatches up his fork and starts stuffing roast potatoes into his mouth before anyone else has even managed to sit down has revealed a tendency towards greed or gluttony. Again, there is room here for some fun and profitable prewriting activities. Give students a list of character traits and have them describe a character doing something that reveals that trait without ever employing the word itself. It is also important to avoid adjective stuffing here. To train the student out of this habit, choose an adjective and have the student rewrite the sentence to express this adjective through action rather than telling.
This is often the area apprentice writers have the most difficulty with. It is important that students understand that without a problem there is no story. The problem is the driving force of the action. Usually in a short story the problem will center around what the primary character wants to happen or, indeed, wants not to happen.
It is the hurdle that must be overcome. It is in the struggle to overcome this hurdle that events happen. Often when a student understands the need for a problem in a story their completed work will still not be successful. This is because often in life problems remain unsolved. Hurdles are not always successfully overcome. Students pick up on this. This is not normally the case with writing a story. Whether a character successfully overcomes his or her problem or is decidedly crushed in the process of trying is not as important as the fact that, one way or the other, it will finally be resolved.
A good practical exercise for students to get to grips with this is to provide them with copies of stories and have them identify the central problem in each through discussion. While it is true that stories often have more than one problem or that the hero or heroine is unsuccessful in their first attempt to solve a central problem, for beginning students and intermediate students it is best to focus on a single problem, especially given the scope of story writing at this level.
Over time students will develop their abilities to handle more complex plots and write accordingly.. The climax of the story is the dramatic high point of the action. It is also when the struggles kicked off by the problem come to a head. The climax will ultimately decide whether the story will have a happy or a tragic ending. In the climax two opposing forces duke things out until the bitter or sweet! One force ultimately emerges triumphant. As the action builds throughout the story suspense increases as the reader wonders which of these forces will win out.
Climax is the release of this suspense. Much of the success of the climax depends on how well the other elements of the story have been achieved. If the student has created a well-drawn and believable character that the reader can identify with and feel for then the climax will be more powerful. The nature of the problem too is essential as it determines what's at stake in the climax.
Have students engage in discussions about their favorite movies and books. Have them think about the storyline and decide what were the most exciting parts. What was at stake at these moments? What happened in your body as you read or watched? Did you breathe faster? Or grip the cushion hard? Did your heart rate increase or did you start to sweat?
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