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How to Talk About STORY

Stories are everywhere. They are in books, movies, plays, poems, daily interactions … With so many opportunities to explore and understand the structure of stories, it makes sense to spend a bit of time talking about stories in a way that will make your child a strong writer.

  • There are defined parts to a story.
    • Exposition – is what is normal in the character’s world. Usually the opening pages of a book or first part of a movie. It lets us know the status quo, what we should expect if nothing happened to change things. At KidWrite, we call this the “normal.”
      • In Akeelah and the Bee the “normal” is her day-to-day life as we see it at the opening of the movie.
    • Inciting Incident – is the thing that causes everything else to happen. It is what we at KidWrite call the “uh-oh” moment. Literally, this incident (event) happens and incites (sets in motion) the rest of the story.
      • In Akeelah and the Bee, the “uh-oh” is when Akeelah’s teacher urges her to enter her first spelling bee.
    • Rising Action – Now that things have changed, there are actions taken and consequences to those actions. The tension goes up and even sometime down a bit, but mostly up until it is unbearable. At KidWrite, we refer to this as watching the balloon fill with air.
      • In Akeelah and the Bee, the rising action is everything that happens to Akeelah from the moment she participates in her first bee until she arrives at the National Spelling Bee.
    • Climax – is the moment all of the events come to a head. In KidWrite, we call it the moment the “balloon pops” because there is so much tension and so much at stake. Something has to happen right now.
      • In Akeelah and the Bee, the climax begins when Akeelan steps onto the stage and continues through the moment we realize she is going to win.
    • Falling Action – occurs after the tension has been broken and the action is winding down. At KidWrite, we refer to this as watching what happes after the balloon pops and the air leaks out.
    • Denouement – is the realization that comes to the character as a result of all that has occurred. At KidWrite, we refer to it as “what the character learned about him/herself.”
      • In Akeelah and the Bee, it is the moment Akeelah realizes she can be great and that she does not want to win just for the win; she wants to compete against someone who is also competing and win, or lose against a worthy opponent.
    • Resolution – is the moment we stand back in the everday, which has been changed in some way by what has occurred. All the action is over and what is left is what KidWrite calls the “new normal.” It may be as small a difference as the difference in the way the character views the world.
      • In Akeelah and the Bee, Akeelah and Dylan are co-champions. Akeelah’s new normal is made up of the changes in herseslf and in her relationships going forward.

Every story has an arc like this. Some stories end abruptly at the climax and skip the downward activity – think action movies. Some stories begin at the climax and skip the steps that led to it – think action movies. I mention this so you don’t think you’re missing the point! With your kids, pick movies that tell a complete story. Note the different parts of the story and talk about them with your kids.

If you’re not sure about what goes into each of the parts of the structure, you can find many YouTube videos that discuss this. At KidWrite, we’re also creating a set of Talk About Story guides you can use. You’ll see them here in the next few months. Meanwhile, if you get stuck, you can reach us through the contact form.

The most important thing?

Have fun!

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