Posted by Jenny Mason on 1/2/2016
The genre of narrative writing comes easily to some and is much harder for others. Yes most people understand the structure of a story. The beginning, middle and an ending. Children as young as 5 and 6 understand that the beginning is the situation and the ending is the resolution, but for all writers, it is usually the middle they find the most difficult.
The middle is the ‘complication’, the drama or the problem. It amazed me that all stories have to have a problem and yet they do. If nothing troubling happens it is not a story. The best way to teach creative writing is to go through a list of the types of things that can go ‘wrong’ so to speak. Sometimes the problem is falling in love with someone who is already in love with someone else. Sometimes it is something that seems like good luck like say winning the lottery, but then it has a catch. Look at Superman, he has superpowers, and yet he is an alien and has to hide his identity from the world with his alter ego Clark Kent. There is always a catch – otherwise the stories would lack conflict.
All good stories need conflict and suspense. That’s why this middle part is so important. However the beginning and ending are not unimportant. The set-up has to be enthralling. You have to create characters that the audience care about. They have to be relatable and even if they are flawed, forgivable. The ending is of course important too. Remember a writer is trying to entertain the audience, to tell a story with themes and a satisfying resolution, where perhaps there is a happy ending and a lesson learnt. The character usually has to have grown from the experience.
A typical formula in creative writing is the main character/protagonist is on some type of important journey/goal, comes across a nemesis/antagonist which the hero needs to overcome, learns something from the challenge and either defeats the problem or is defeated. Not many stories deviate from this structure and in helping children write narratives, it is always great to start with a brainstorming session. Brainstorm characters, settings, motivations and goals, then brainstorm obstacles and then brainstorm solutions. From these sessions, ideas should flow and they can then select the elements they wish to use in their story. The best writers are also avid readers, so encourage that too. Also creative writing should be fun.