Week One: What Every Story Needs
- Read the week one text
- Read Adrift on an Ice-Pan and complete the Analyze a Story worksheet.
- Read the Story Starters and pick one to complete.
- Complete the Outlining Worksheet
- Write the rest of the story for one of the story starters
What Every Story Needs. . .
Good stories need a foundation to grow from. There are three basic components that create the cement needed to build that foundation.
- A Protagonist. (Pro-tag-o-nist) Protagonist is the fancy name that writers use for their main character. You want to write your story in such a way that you make people who read the story care about what happens to this person more than they care about anyone else in the story.
- A Goal. In your story, your protagonist should want something, need to get somewhere or have some other similar goal. Story goals are usually formed when something unusual—out of the ordinary—happens to interrupt, change, or disturb the protagonist’s normal life. The more important the goal is to the protagonist, the harder he will try to reach it and the more interesting the story will be.
- A Problem. This is what makes the story interesting. A problem could be something simple, like a missing book, or it could be something huge, like a war. The problem should get in the way of the protagonist reaching his goal. Without a goal, the protagonist might ignore or run away from the problem, but because he wants or needs to reach his goal, he is forced to face the problem. Whatever the problem is, your story should focus on your protagonist trying to solve or conquer it.
A protagonist gives your readers someone to root for.
A problem and a goal form the basis of a story plot.
Read Adrift on an Ice-Pan
Analyze a Story
Adrift on an Ice-Pan, by Sir Wilfred Thomason Grenfell
Who is the protagonist?
Did you care what happened to the protagonist?
What is the problem?
How would the protagonist have spent his time if there hadn’t been a problem?
Would the story have been very interesting?
What is the goal?
How did the protagonist try to accomplish the goal?
If the protagonist didn’t have a goal, would he have taken such drastic action?
Below are two unfinished stories. In each one, the protagonist is going about a normal activity. Pick one of the stories, complete the outlining sheet and write your story. The story can be up to two typed pages long. Be sure to include a title.
Story # 1:
I pulled on my coat.
“Where are you going, James?” my little sister, Carol, asked.
“Out to play,” I told her.
“Can I come?” she begged. “Can we play Indians in the woods?”
I sighed. I didn’t really want company, but Carol would cry if I said she couldn’t.
“Yeah, come on.”
‘Keep an eye on her,” Mom called from the kitchen. “And stay out of trouble.”
“Okay!” I hollered.
I waited for Carol to put on her boots, then opened the door. Carol skipped out in front of me.
Together we walked towards the woods behind our house.
Questions to help you brainstorm…
- What kind of a boy do you think James is? Is he responsible? Lazy? Affectionate?
- Mom told James to watch Carol and to stay out of trouble. What might make it difficult to do so?
- What might Carol do that would create a problem for James?
Story # 2:
The blazing sun and 98 degree temperature outside made walking sound extremely uninviting. But Mom and I always took the dogs around the block after lunch, rain or shine. Today would be no different. Besides, I liked the time alone with Mom
“Ready, Kate?” Mom asked. She offered me a leash.
“I guess,” I said, bending over to clip the leash onto one dog’s collar.
Mom slid the screen door open and we were off. Molly strained on her leash, nose to the ground, trying not to miss a single smell.
We walked down the driveway and turned left.
Questions to help you brainstorm…
- What kind of a person do you think Kate is? Is she helpful? Bored? Loyal?
- Could the heat be the cause of a problem? How about the dogs?
Which story are you going to complete? ________________________________
What is the protagonist’s full name? __________________________________
How old is the protagonist? _________________________________________
What happens in the beginning of the story? __________________________________________________________
What unusual thing happens to interrupt, change or disturb the protagonist’s normal life? _______________________
What is the protagonist’s goal? ____________________________________________________________________
What gets in his way of accomplishing that goal? What is the problem? ______________________________________
What happens in the middle of the story? ____________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
How does the protagonist conquer the problem? _______________________________________________________
How does the story end? _________________________________________________________________________