Thursday, 3 July 2014

Story Structure

You may, if you teach teens or adults, find yourself having to teach a writing lesson or teaching a lesson in which the writing of a story is an integral part. If this has been the case, you will know that students of any nationality often just scribble down the first few ideas that come into their head's. Which means they need some sort of structure, some sort of device with which to write their story.

Having taught a similar lesson recently, I found it very useful to have the students imagine their story in terms of a mountain.

The approach to the mountain is the introduction to the story I.e. the characters, setting and any other information are introduced.

The ascent up the mountain is the the rise in the action I.e. things start to happen.

The climb over the ridge of said mountain is the climax of the story I.e. the main action of the story happens here.

The descent down the mountain is the fall in the action I.e. the action starts to fall and plot points begin to be tidied up.

And the walk away from the mountain, in the direction of home is where the story is resolved I.e. where all plot points are finished off and everything is finished off.

You can demonstrate the above process with the PowerPoint slide as the skier travels along, up and over the mountain.

I then set up three chairs in the middle of the classroom, with a gap between the first and second and the second and third chairs. I then picked five students. The first I had sit on the first chair, the second standing in the first gap, the third stood on the middle chair, the fourth stood in the second gap and the fifth on the last chair. Pointing out which part of the story each student represented (first = introduction, second = rising action, third = climax, fourth = falling action and fifth = resolution). Once this was explained, I had each student improvise their respective part of the story. This leads to some interesting stories but the both the students speaking and the students watching enjoyed hue process and results.

Finishing the story telling, I told them they were going to write their own story. Handing out the worksheet I had them draft out the five parts of their own story. The final step is to have them write their stories. If you have time, it can also be worth having them read their stories to the class.    

For the worksheet, print out the second page of the presentation.

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