More Creative Tips For Creating A Dynamic Opening to a Story

One of the greatest challenges for any writer when it comes to writing a story (besides coming up with the initial story idea) is to decide what is the best way to begin the story. The opening paragraph is the most important part of a story as it acts as the pivotal gateway through which your reader must enter your storyworld. The first few sentences the reader encounters can make or break their ongoing relationship with your story. So how do you create a dynamic opening for your story that will capture your reader’s imagination?

There are three writing techniques that I find really helpful when I am deciding how to start a story.

1. Write a list of different types of paragraph openings

Every writer will have different approaches to writing, but one of the first things that I like to do before I start to write the first few sentences of a story is to write a list of the different types of paragraph openings. This is not to say that I do not use the impromptu creative writing approach, where I just starting typing at random and see where the story goes. I am a big believer in having a story plan to keep me organised.

Of course, the way you begin your story will also depend on the genre of your story. If you are writing a fantasy story, you could start with a setting like a dark Dystopian world or a magical castle. If you are writing in the speculative fiction genre, you could start with a character portrait like a vampire rising from his coffin. If you are writing a crime story, you could start with a narrator who has just observed a murder, or you could have your main character/the murderer discuss their criminal plans in the form of a short monologue.

2. Create a Dynamic Image

The best type of opening paragraph is one that creates a dynamic image. Once you have written your opening paragraph, ask yourself this question: Will my opening scene create a dynamic image in the mind of the reader? One way to know if it is dynamic or not is to try visualising it in your mind, and see it playing out like an opening scene in a film.

A strong image is always memorable.

As well as catching the reader’s attention, a strong and powerful image also sets up the overall genre or style of your story. Think about the last film you went to see or one of your favourites. What did the opening scene contain? Maybe the first image was a spaceship drifting through space, maybe it was a character speaking an iconic one-liner, like the opening line that was spoken by Henry Hill in the gangster film Goodfellas, “As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster.”

The opening scene might be ambiguous, an intriguing image like the pile of black hats in The Prestige. The possibilities are endless for your story, but whether you choose a fantasy world, a haunted house, or you introduce your hero via a character description, it must create a dynamic image in the mind of your reader.
Just like there are some great ways to start a story, they are some things to avoid.

3. Avoid starting your story with dialogue

Firstly, the way you start a story can depend on whether you are writing a short story or a novel. Starting any type of story with a question or a one-liner is a great way to draw the reader in, but starting a story with dialogue may not be the best option. There are two problems that can occur when you start a story with dialogue:

It can create literary confusion as the reader will not know anything about the characters, so they may feel a little lost.
If you are writing a short story you need to be economical with words as short stories have a strict word count. If you want to use dialogue, it needs to be used sparingly in the opening paragraph, or leave it until later in the story.

Practice makes perfect, and once you have experimented with different ways of writing your opening paragraph, you will start to get a feel for what works and what does not work.

Another good tip to help you become more proficient at beginning a story is to read. Reading books and learning from those writers who have been writing for years, will help you to become a better writer. Stephen King, the Master of Horror gives us great storytelling advice:

“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”

William Faulkner also says:

“Read, read, read. Read everything – trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it. Then write. If it’s good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out of the window.”

Now that you have learned some tips, here are three creative writing tasks to get those story-telling neurons firing.

1. Choose three types of paragraph openings: Character Description, Setting, and Action. Write up to 100 words for each paragraph, then develop your story from there.

2. Choose three films. Watch the first 5 to 10 minutes of the film. How does the film start? What kind of image is presented? How does it make you feel? Is it a strong, powerful image?

3. Choose a book from your bookshelf or from your local library (fiction is best). How does the writer start their opening paragraph, do they start with the description of a setting or a character description? Do you think it is a dynamic opening paragraph? Why or why not?

Jot down the answers to these questions. You could try re-writing the author’s opening paragraph. Of course, this is just for creative learning purposes. No plagiarism!

I hope these creative tips on how to write a dynamic opening for a story helps you on your storytelling journey.

Happy Writing!

 

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4 Creative Tips to Kick-Start Your Storytelling Resolutions

Once the fireworks go off on New Year’s Eve and the champagne flows, we are filled with expectation, which may get us thinking about our creative writing resolutions or tentative plans for the year ahead.  But sometimes we can get lost in the busyness of the new year, and our plans for our short story collection or novel gets left behind.  Our desires to fulfill our storytelling goals are strong, but we struggle to meet our own expectations.  So if your creative muse is still on holidays, or you find yourself staring at the blank screen of your computer or page of your journal in frustration, then do not despair – I have brainstormed and come up with 4 creative writing tips * to kick-start your storytelling resolutions. 

Writing a story does not always have to be a stressful thing, and you do not have to stay glued to the computer for hours on end.  If you are committed to setting apart just a few minutes during the week to write a few words, sometimes called the “little and often approach” can result in a short story or a novel.

You may find that you struggle with two things.

One. You may struggle to come up with an idea, especially a unique idea.

Two.  You may have so many story ideas milling around in your creative brain, you may not be sure how you are going to craft the idea into a successful narrative.

Even professional writers can flounder in a deep mire of creative ideas, and other times they may feel like their creative muse has left the building, and you may feel like that too.

So if this is you and you feel a little story barren, or if you have a multitude of story ideas, here are four creative writing ideas or tips hat will help you to get you back into the creative game, so to speak.

1. Develop a Story Plan.

Sometimes the way you have approached your writing in the past may not be working for you now. If you have hit a wall and your little micro world has been put on hold, developing a story plan can help you get organised. In no time at all, you will be able to create a dynamic story with a pulsing plot and compelling characters.  In one of my articles in Unearthed Fiction, a magazine that I look after, I provided a story plan, but here is an updated version.

2. Choose your genre.

Genre is a type of classification that can be applied to music, books, and film. It helps us to decide what music we will listen to, what book we will read, and what film we will watch. But genre is also an important tool for a creative writer. As well as using your favourite genre, try writing in an unfamiliar genre.

Before you choose your genre, do some research on the different genres: crime, romance, speculative fiction, horror, non-fiction.

As well as choosing one or multiple genres, why not try mixing genres. It might seem like a challenge, but we writers (secretly) do enjoy a challenge. Mix two genres together like crime and romance or comedy and horror.

You will be amazed at the plethora of ideas that you can come up with, and it can also refresh your existing story ideas.

3. Choose your setting.

Reading a story is so powerful, it can take us out of our familiar ordinary world into another unfamiliar and strange world. We can go on a journey anywhere around the world, into the past, the future, or even another dimension. Your choice of setting is an important one as it creates a strong visual in the reader’s mind. Try brainstorming a host of settings for your story.

You can start with a real world setting like the romantic city of Paris, the fast-paced metropolis of New York, or the seedy underbelly of Kings Cross in Sydney.

Why not try something out of the ordinary, an alternate reality, or even a microscopic world in the cracks of the pavement.

4. Create a profile for your characters.

Story characters are the most important elements in a story. They provide the psychology and action in a narrative. We live vicariously through them, and it is from their point of view and senses that we experience the story world.

The best characters are the ones that are fully developed and are as human as possible. Even if the reader cannot relate to the character’s situation, the character should be created in such a way that the reader should feel like they have stepped through a magical portal into another person’s world.

Part A

Create a basic profile for your characters by doing the following:

Choose a hero/heroine, one or two helpers, and a villain.

What are their names and what do they look like?

What is their social status: rich or poor or working class?

What are their flaws and fears?

What are their goals or desires in the story?

Part B

Give your character a dilemma to solve.

Once you have created your character profile for your hero or heroine, give them a serious dilemma that needs to be solved. Then write down two different ways they could solve the dilemma. They could face the dilemma bravely or they could take the coward’s’ way out. Next to each dilemma and their corresponding action, start to develop your narrative from there. This way you will have two stories to work with.

Creative Exercise

Sometimes story ideas can come to us while we are sitting at our computers, travelling on a bus, or even when we are listening to our grandparents tell their life story at the dinner table. But all too often it does not work like that. The story-line and characters do not always just miraculously come together, so here is a creative exercise that will help you get into the creative zone right away.

Step 1. Write down 5 story settings. You could choose a real life setting, a fantasy world, a romantic beach-side setting, a dark haunted forest, or a Dystopian city.

Step 2. Choose your lead character for each story. The lead character is usually the hero or heroine, but as they say, “Once you know the rules, you can break the rules”. Maybe your lead character will be the villain!

Step 3. Create an opening paragraph for each story – up to 100 words. You could start with a character description, fast-paced action, a question, or an intriguing idea. Here are some examples to inspire you.

Character Description

Your opening lines can introduce your main protagonist, for example:

“Ella leaned back against the cold damp stone wall. Her porcelain skin was pale and drawn with deep lines etched around her eyes and mouth, and her once glorious golden hair hung in matted tendrils around her face.”

Action

Starting your story with strong action is a great choice as it thrusts the reader into the thick of the story.

“The baying of the hunting dogs drew closer as he dashed through the thickly wooded forest. Like a mad man, he fought his way through the close-knit trees as their branches tore at his face until he was suddenly redeemed by a burst of bright sunlight as he stumbled out of the forest into a small clearing.”

I hope these four creative writing tips and writing exercise will help you to kick-start your storytelling this year, and I wish you all the best for your storytelling journey.

Happy Writing!

* This post is based on the article, Creative Brainstorming 101 that appeared in the December issue of Unearthed Fiction.

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Scriggler: an Online Creative Community That Will Revitalize Your Writing

In one of my recent blog posts, I shared some tips on how to revitalize your writing. Creative writing is a predominately solo occupation, countless hours are spent brainstorming unique story ideas, dreaming up new worlds, creating dynamic characters, and exciting plots.

Whatever kind of writing you like, whether you are a journalist, a novelist or a poet, chances are you will spend most of your time alone in the creative zone. Although many writers thrive when they are working solo, others may find it quite limiting and suffer quite regularly from that dreaded literary nemesis, Writer’s Block. If you are the kind of person who thrives on interaction and your learning style is Kinesthetic:

You learn by doing and by the sense of touch. 
You like to engage in activities. 
You like to ask questions during an activity.
You like working or talking with others in a team or group.

 

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Then here is another great tip that can help you revitalise your writing and get those creative neurons firing: join an online community like Scriggler.

Scriggler is a writing, blogging and debating platform. A creative place where you can write and read on any topic, in any level of detail. Whether you enjoy writing short stories, poetry, or you want to share your opinion on a topic that you are passionate about, Scriggler gives you the opportunity to connect with a global audience of writers and readers.

Each month Scriggler runs a writing contest, there is a book promotion service available, and writing prompts and challenges that will help you to get inspired and achieve greater creativity.

Five reasons you should be involved on Scriggler.

1. You can create your own personal creative page.

2. You can engage with other creative writers from all over the world: You can comment on their work, and they can provide feedback on your creation.

3. Scriggler attracts a global readership. Your short story or poem was never meant to stay hidden in a creative void. That literary baby that you have brought to life and nurtured was born so that it can be shared with the world.

 

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4. You will be inspired by reading work from other writers. Each writer’s journey is different, and when you are a part of an online writing community you have the opportunity to learn from other writers and chat about your literary experiences.

5. You can grow your online fan base. Whenever you submit a new article, Scriggler will promote your work on social media platforms like Twitter or Facebook, which can increase your global online presence.

Two examples of the rewards that can be yours as a member of the Scriggler community.

There is nothing better than a personal testimony to the rewards that be received from being involved with a creative writing community.

I have been on Scriggler since June 2016:

1. One of my micro-fiction tales has been narrated by a fellow Scriggler, Kris Keppeler, on her podcast.

2. My short story, Muse, is being considered for publication in a short story anthology.

So why not discover the benefits of being involved in a writing, blogging and debating community like Scriggler. In the midst of like-minded people, you will discover that the creative possibilities for your writing are endless!

 

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An Exegesis for Second Chance: A Short Story with a Social Conscience

 

One of my short stories ‘Second Chance’, which is featured in the short story collection: Tales for the Sisterhood, is about a young girl who is struggling to cope with the devastating effects of bullying.

My prime motivation behind this story is firstly the subject of bullying, which is a serious social-cultural community issue.

Bullying has been placed centrestage under the media spotlight, and anti-bullying programs and initiatives have been introduced into schools in an effort to try to stop this destructive behaviour, which is endured by children and adolescents, and also in the workplace.

TV shows such as A Current Affair and 60 Minutes have shown that bullying has become more insidious due to social media usage by young people, through platforms like Facebook and Twitter. This online form of bullying is more invasive and it is difficult for young people to switch off from its effects.

Days have gone by where bullying was confined to the school-yard, its presence can now invade into personal living spaces.

My second motivation for this story came from my own experiences with bullying at primary and high school, during which time I was also struggling to cope with a family unit breakdown. Due to my love of painting and writing, I found it therapeutic to express my thoughts and feelings in this creative way.

During my university journey, I conducted research into bullying and different forms of therapy, while creating Second Chance. Organisations like the Sydney Centre for Creative Change hold workshops and courses for youth workers, and offer creative therapy for young people who are dealing with trauma. These classes not only aim to build an artistic skill base, but to empower students to solve problems creatively.

Creative therapy provides a positive course of action that can be taken by the sufferer, giving them back some control.

A lot of my own teenage angst was responsible for creating the character Kara, minus her physical responses to bullying. Like Kara, my favourite subject was Art, and besides English, these subjects were the only ones I succeeded in. As this short story is aimed towards the Young Adult market, in particular, high school students, I wanted the narrative to be primarily from Kara’s perspective on her world, and I hoped to capture the pain of her struggles in such a short word count.

My own reading of young adult novels like John Marsden’s Winter and Amanda Hocking’s Switched, also inspired me to present Kara as the conflicted and misunderstood heroine, who begins her journey towards a psychological transformation, through a Creative Therapy Class.

My other literary challenge was how to begin the narrative. I wanted to highlight Kara’s home life as well as her school-related abuse and then briefly show the beginnings of her personal victory. I decided to include the ‘cutting’ that she considers earlier in the narrative. I have heard that young people can sometimes make the heartbreaking decision to resort to self-mutilation to try to control their emotional pain.

Kara’s choice to use the ‘fight not flight’ response is due to her repressed frustration; not that this is an excuse or an acceptable response to bullying. A young person should stand up to victimisation, but they should not have to do this ‘standing up’ on their own. A strong support system of friends, family members or counselors should stand with them.

The use of creative therapy is not a solution to bullying or other stressful events that can occur in childhood or adolescents, but it is one conduit through which young people can channel their thoughts and feelings, within a safe environment.

My hope is that the short story ‘Second Chance’ may inspire young people to share their stories and not stay silent about bullying. Help and support is available.

 

Here is a excerpt from Second Chance. 

 

The computer screen flickered, which meant that another post was being entered onto my Facebook feed. I turned toward the computer and stared at the words.
“Yur such an ugly useless fat bitch. It wuld b beta if U were ded!!!”

Even though they were just words on a screen, I felt like I had been punched in the stomach. Although I went to a small country school, I was not immune to the normal school-yard bullying, but now that it had
begun to invade my private and personal space, it seemed that there was nowhere to hide. In the past, I had tried to stand up for myself in an effort to stop the bullying, but it usually escalated into an ugly fight, and I
had been expelled more than once.

The only part of school that I did like was art class, especially when we would use watercolours. My teacher, Mrs Anders, had taught us to use a hair dryer to make the water mix with the paint. I found it fascinating to watch the colours swirl into a multitude of patterns like a kaleidoscope. She would always praise me for my work. “You have such a talent, Kara. Your work is so vibrant.” I would never reply, but in my heart I felt something stir.

 

The full story and other short stories in the Sisterhood Collection are available through Amazon or the Book Depository.

 

Anti-bullying campaigns and related websites. 

ChooseREAL Campaign

Make Bullying History Foundation

 

 

References.

Chloe’s Law, 60 Minutes 2013, television programme, Channel Nine, Sydney, 10 November. YouTube.

Hocking, Amanda 2012, Switched, St Martin’s Press, New York.

I would get death threats”: A Current Affair 2011, television programme, Channel Nine, Sydney, 21 September.

Marsden, John 2000, Winter, Pan Macmillan Australia Pty Limited.

Sydney Centre for Creative Change

Understanding Teen Cutting and Self-Injury Boystown.org.

Six More Creative Tips to Revitalise Your Writing

 

New and experienced writers can sometimes find themselves struggling to brainstorm new narratives. Our ideas pool looks like it’s all fished out and our once helpful creative muse has left the building. But never despair, when you’re faced with writer’s block and that blank computer screen seems to mock your inability to create, here are six creative tips to revitalise your writing and get you back into storytelling mode.

No. 1. Flash, Nano or Micro Fiction.

Specific word choice and brevity is important for a creative writer. Making each word count and telling a story well in the best possible way can distinguish a good writer from a great one. Writing to a particular word count can help you streamline your writing skills and can kick-start a lot of creative story ideas.

Flex your creative muscles by trying the Ernest Hemingway challenge: Write a Story in Six Words, or in 100 words. I like this style of writing mainly because it stimulates the creative side of the brain, therefore allowing new ideas to be born. A longer narrative can be born out of a Flash/Nano or Micro tale, so be brave and take up a Micro Fiction challenge.

No. 2. Re-write a Folk or Fairy Tale.

With so many folk and fairy tales out there you are sure to find one that is desperately in need of a re-write or refresh. Many of the female roles like the passive princess can be changed to a butt-kicking no nonsense princess. You can also change the story into a modern day setting with 21st century socio-cultural and political themes. Check out my version of the Rapunzel tale, The Tale of Ruthie and Grace in my free eBook, Exploring the Narrative World: Writing the Short Story

No. 3. Choose a Short Story and Write It Into a Short or Feature Film.

This is a great exercise for writers. The short story ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty’ was written by James Thurber in 1939 and was remade into a blockbuster film with Ben Stiller in 2013. The task of choosing key settings, events and characters from a work of fiction is performed by many successful Hollywood screenwriters. So why not take one of your favourite short stories or Google one and try transforming the narrative into a short or feature film.

No. 4. Interview a Parent/Grandparent and Write a Story Based on their Experiences.

Parents and grandparents have so many interesting life stories that are just waiting to be crafted into a story that can impact the world. The saying ‘truth is stranger than fiction’ can make for a compelling tale even more so that a purely fictional tale. This storytelling exercise can also benefit a lonely elderly person in a nursing home or retirement village. Once you have interviewed your willing participant, and have written the story, you can print it out and give to your real-life hero or heroine as a gift.

No. 5. Pick Five Everyday Items and Write a Short Narrative. (Give them human-like qualities. Describe them as if they were alive, and had feelings. Or choose one of your family pets and create a story around them.)

This exercise was originally a poetry exercise but it can also be used in narrative fiction. You can start by writing a short narrative about how the item, like a mobile phone, has human qualities and would feel about having to constantly supply on demand unlimited information.

Here is an example of an everyday item that has been endowed with human qualities.

A Mobile/Cellphone.

Her bright exuberant face tantalises me with the happy expectations of friends and unlimited social invites, none of which I am invited to.  As a solitary observer of the many delights and distresses of her daily existence, I am a constant companion, but I am no more than an expert supplier for her excessive demands for sometimes useless and unnecessary information.

My revenge upon this fanatical digital ogre who relentlessly taps away at my delicate silver skin is my shrill shrieks and incessant clanging when she would rather be snoozing. I am an electronic prosthesis that is also an extension of her inner life.  As she sleeps, I dream of an immanent future where I will have the power to invade her innermost being and control her body, soul and spirit.

No. 6. Write a Story with One Character or Write a Story without a Character. 

Although this type of creative exercise can narrow the boundaries of the storytelling world, it is a favourite with some writers.  

Write a story with the main character as the omniscient narrator/focaliser. Many non-fiction narratives use this style. Boris Glikman uses this technique a lot. Many of his short stories take on a metaphysical or philosophical outlook on life. You can view some of his stories in the Unearthed Fiction magazine.

I hope you find these six creative tips to revitalise your writing helpful. 

Happy writing!

 

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Inspiration/Writing GIPHY

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Write a Dynamic Opening for a Story

 

When it comes to writing a short story there are two important structural guidelines to remember: the ‘beginning and ending‘.  Although there are other guidelines, the ‘beginning and ending’ of a short story are considered to be among the most important.  These guidelines apply to novels as well, but for a short story, there is a limited word count in which to offer an intriguing storyworld.  So let us get started in exploring how to write a dynamic opening for a story.

A story’s opening paragraph should be designed to capture a reader’s imagination and inspire them to read more.  The opening paragraph acts as a pivotal gateway through which your reader must enter so that they can journey successfully through your story.  There are many ways of beginning a story: setting, character description, action, a statement, an idea, or posing a question.

1. SETTING

Your setting could be a location: a windswept beach, a dark Dystopian city, a magical underwater world, or a simple hobbit’s hole as described by J. R. R. Tolkien on the opening page of The Hobbit – “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or eat: It was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.”

2. CHARACTER DESCRIPTION

The opening lines can introduce your main protagonist, for example –“Ella leaned back against the cold damp stone wall. Her porcelain skin was pale and drawn, with deep lines etched around her eyes and mouth, and her once glorious golden hair hung in matted tendrils around her face.”

3. ACTION

Starting your story with strong action is a great choice as it thrusts the reader into the thick of the story.  “The baying of the hunting dogs drew closer as he dashed through the thickly wooded forest.  Like a mad man, he fought his way through the close-knit trees, until he was suddenly redeemed by a burst of bright sunlight as he stumbled out of the forest into a small clearing.”

4. A STATEMENT

The iconic opening statement in Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities is dramatic, poetic and memorable, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of our despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way . . .”

5. AN IDEA

How about Jane Austen’s opening line in the classic novel, Pride and Prejudice – “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”  Starting your story with an idea can really get your reader thinking.  Although they may not agree with your idea, they can be compelled to read on to see where this idea will take them.

6. A QUESTION

“Where’s Papa going with that axe?” said Fern to her mother as they were setting the table for breakfast.” Charlotte’s Web, E.B. White.  Beginning your story with a question sets up intrigue in the reader’s mind.  You have provided them with a question that needs to be answered and they must commit to the whole story to discover the answer.

I have provided just a few tips on how to write a dynamic opening for a story in a way that will capture your reader’s imagination.

 

Next week: We will explore the creative possibilities for your story’s ending.

 

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How to Write a Dynamic Short Story

One of my favourite narrative formats is the short story.  This fondness had grown out of my continual battle to complete a story.  I had no trouble starting the story, but once I had written about a hundred words or so, I would lose the plot – literally!  But after writing a few stories, I think I have finally vanquished my nemesis.  So if you like to read short stories and would like to write your own, then read on and discover how you can write an engaging and dynamic short story in four easy steps.

The short story is an artistic product that contains a fixed sequence of words and is known for its particular format: length of words, structure, viewpoint, or tone of voice, etc.  It provides a small literary window onto an observed dramatic event or a personal experience. 

The short story has a long history, starting off in oral tradition long before writing and the arrival of the printing press.  Some well-known forms are Homer’s Iliad, folk tales, fairy tales etc.  Many of these short story forms were used for didactic or teaching purposes– such as Aesop’s Fables, or in a biblical context – the parables of Jesus. 

Folk or fairy tales were originally designed as subtle social commentaries on exploitation against the lower/middle classes throughout history.  Of course, these social commentaries had to be cleverly disguised so as to protect their authors.  Feudal lords, kings, and queens were transformed into the fantasy characters we know so well today – giants, evil step-mothers/witches.  And the passive captive princess – just an example of their fateful prey.  There is more I could say about the dubious representation of gender roles in many of these tales, but for our purposes, we will stick to storytelling.

As folk and fairy tales have been passed down through history, they have been subject to revision, due to socio-political change.  Many of The Brothers Grimm tales in the late eighteenth century were censored and re-packaged towards children.  I apologize for demystifying or removing the magical aura that surrounds the fairy tale.  But seriously, would a prince really climb up a tower with a girl’s long blonde hair???  Don’t get me wrong – I am a fan of fairy tales too, but sometimes it is important to know the ‘why behind the what’. 

I believe short stories are great narratives for the 21st century as they do not require so much reading time as novels do.  They may not provide as much content as the novel, but a short story can exist for the sole purpose of just presenting an idea or a question to the reader.

A story tip to remember.  When it comes to the short story: form and content are important!

When you start to craft your story ask yourself these four questions:

No. 1

What structure will I use?  A traditional linear structure with the events unfolding chronologically, (including flashbacks) – or experiment and adopt a more innovative style.

No. 2

Where will I start my story?  From the beginning?  In the middle of the action?

No. 3

Where will I place my story conflict or rising action?

No. 4

How will I end my story?  Will it close with a satisfying conclusion – with all the loose ends tied up or will I defy traditional storytelling techniques and leave the reader wanting more? 

You are the creator of this infant literary world – it is up to you!

Personally – I like to challenge traditional storytelling methods.

Overall, form and content are important because a short story is determined by a specific word count.  When I was at university most of my creative writing assessments were 1000 words.  That may sound like a lot, but considering a novel is 70,000 words plus, 1000 words can be challenging for an author to create an intriguing storyline and a dynamic characterization.  But it can be a lot of fun seeing what you can do in 1000 words. Of course, some short story competitions accept stories up to 5000 words.

Remember!  A story was never meant to exist in a literary vacuum – it was meant to be read by others. When you start writing your short story, consider your audience and their overall reading experience.

DISCUSSION ZONE: 

Your task, if you choose to accept it, is to come up with a theme or an idea for your story.  Brainstorm your narrative structure.  Choose your setting.  Pick one character. Yes – only one character!

 

NEXT BLOG:  ‘Digital storytelling’ – Creative Storytelling for the 21st century.

 

If you would like to read my version of the fairy tale ‘Rapunzel’, head on over to the BOOKS tab, and in my free eBook, Exploring the Narrative World: Writing the Short Story, you will find the short story, ‘The Tale of Ruthie and Grace‘.  Let me know what you think?

 

READING LIST:

Grimm, J 1982, Fairy Tales from Grimm, retold by Peter Carter, Oxford University Press, Oxford, New York. Available from Google Books. *

Zipes, J D 2002, Breaking the Magic Spell:Radical Theories of Folk and Fairy Tales, 2nd ed,
University Press of Kentucky, Lexington, KY, USA. Available from Amazon Books

 

* You can find a book of fairy tales at your local library or an eBook through Apple iBooks.

 

Image:
http://images.freeimages.com/images/thumbs/0c5/writing-1239763.jpg