Saturday, December 12, 2015

ALL ABOUT THE STORY

My Five Point Method for writing a good story.
Story telling is an art.  I've known a few people who could tell a great story and make me laugh so much I was hugging myself.  My ex's Auntie Jessie was one (long dead) -  maybe it was from her that he inherited his comic gift. Visiting her, a plump Welsh woman,  was always a great treat -  tea,  cakes and laughter,  sometimes I'd be crying with laughter.


Then there was my uncle Billy and aunt Beryl.  I remember a knock on our door at 10 am one Sunday morning in Hampton-on-Thames, 20+ years ago - Beryl had plunging necklines and false eyelashes,  Billy was portly and had a big cigar in his teeth...we listened to story after story, clutching large brandies and cracking up laughing. Then they swept out leaving us gasping for air and slightly drunk at 11 am.yd My aunt Beryl is 90 now and my uncle is long gone, sadly.  But I’ll never forget any of them and how much they made us laugh with their hysterically funny stories.


If only I could tell stories like that ... I'm still practising. Meanwhile, I’ve put together five main components for a good written story. I think I have learnt that. You may want to add your own points too!

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Click on the title for a link to my new book...
 a memoir about my journey across South Africa and life in Cape Town
in the time of apartheid in the 1970s.  It's a true story - have a look ...
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Written story-telling is another dimension. Whether a story makes you laugh or cry, a good story immerses you in a different world and takes you away from the cares of your present.

1.      A good plot and well-defined characters, brought to life by dialogue.  Think about the emotional impact you wish to evoke in the reader. Trace the route in your head through to the finale. The story should grip the reader from the opening sentence. Or start with the conclusion and work backwards - how will you get there? Close observation gives detail and makes the story come to life.

2.      Be original and unusual in your treatment of the subject (not another pot boiler). Build the reader's involvement slowly, take them down a few tangents so it's not clear where the story's going. Let the end be unexpected. Build the reader's anticipation.

3.      Setting is important, culture, country, rural, urban, make it start/end in a specific place - a meeting in a park, a pub, a coffee bar, a house It's a sunny day, it's raining, cloudy, hot, cold.  Paint a picture, splash some colours, sounds and smells around. The smell of dust, pigs, manure, petrol, curry etc

4.       Grammar and spelling must work - a story has to be crafted carefully, keep the adjectives to a minimum, tone down flowery language or get rid of 'purple prose;. The dialogue must be natural, colloquial, flow in short bursts.

5.      Endings:  If you set up a puzzle or conundrum or mystery, it should move towards some kind of resolution, some kind of satisfaction of the plot, that ties together the whole story.

Whether the story is based in fact
 or fiction the components are still the same.

This article was inspired by one by Amy Reichert titled Libraries: Still all about the story Click here for a link.






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