Friday, September 23, 2016

What’s Missing? Story Structure! Smack-Dab-in-the-Classroom by Dia Calhoun

From the private Creative Writing mentoring I do for both adults and kids, I’ve discovered many people have a poor understanding of story structure. It isn’t really taught in general creative writing classes, beyond perhaps pointing out that a story needs a beginning, middle, and end.

Perhaps this lack isn’t surprising, if you consider all the many and often complex techniques of looking at story structure. You can read STORY, by Robert McKee, for a super in depth version. But the simplest, quickest technique I’ve found is in Eve Heidi Bine-Stock’s book, How to Write a Children’s Picture Book, Vol. 1: Structure. She developed her story structure chart for picture books, but I’ve found it very useful to give me a quick snapshot of novel structure. And an easy way to try many ideas out quickly.

Bine-Stock explains the chart using well known picture books as examples, so this book would be a useful and accessible way for a middle school or secondary school teachers to teach story structure. Have the kids look at a few middle grade novels using the chart as well. Whether teaching literature or creative writing, this book would be a great tool for teaching story structure.

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