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Thursday, 3 April 2014



Almost all creative writing texts – novels, stories, poems, plays, chapters of memoirs, reports, even sometimes articles -  have some sort of narrative form.   To give the text an overall sense of completeness we need to think about the overall form of it, how it starts, what is deals with,  what happens, how things turn out.   As Philip Larkin put it: a beginning, a muddle, and an end.

The story may not be up front and visible, and it may not be told in the order in which the events it describes happened.   But we need to be aware of it.   The diagram below gives one way of looking at the structure of a story

A story needs to have some sort of problem which the main character has to solve.  For the holiday task you have to devise a problem which you think you can develop into a story, poem or other kind of writing.   You don’t need to think about an ending yet.

So your task is to START writing by getting away from yourself at first.   Observe someone in Burger King, or on the bus or train, or in the park.   Create an imaginary life for them.   Imagine it as if you were them.   First, make notes in as much detail as you can about the person as they appear.   This is the research part of the work.   These notes may not find their way into the story, poem or other piece of work.   They help you to think about the person.

Then think of some problem they might find themselves in.  It could be an emotional problem, a financial problem,  anxiety about a relative’s illness, or their own illness.

Bring with you your background notes about the person and a brief account of their problem.  If you             wish you can write      this as if it were the opening of a story, but you can simple tell us about it.



An ordinary situation
husband and wife having supper at home

The ordinary situation is upset in some way
She tells him she's got a lover.   They are about to run away together.

The upset creates a problem
What will be do?   Not only is he heartbroken, but his wife is very rich.

The main character tries to deal with the problem
Next evening at supper he tells his wife he has murdered the lover   

The problem is resolved (not necessarily solved)*
The wife rushes to the lover's house and finds him dead and rings the police.
The husband has resolved his problem.   However:.

The resolution is not what we expected
 She  has fallen into a trap left by the husband that will lead to her being accused of the murder.

*The attempt to deal with the problem can lead to further problems which have to be dealt with, thus              lengthening and complicating the story

1 comment:

  1. thanks so much for sharing...this is wonderful advice.

    i often observe people, i love jotting down tidbits of conversations i overhear of strangers...then reworking them into my own characters/stories. :)

    stacy lynn mar