What is narrative? This module will explore the psychology of narrative, and offer a quick refresher on basic writing craft.
Plot and Structure 5
Where to start the story? How should a story be structured? Plot is both the sequence of events that make up a story, and the structure those events take. Learn to develop a compelling hook, plot & story structure that will keep your readers furiously flicking until the end!
Character and Dialogue 6
No story can exist without characters! In this module, you’ll learn to lay the foundation for creating compelling characters and believable and revealing dialogue.
Where does your story take place, and how can you evoke this place in the minds of your audience?What is the context of the world you are creating? In this module, you will explore how to paint a picture of the story with your words.
POV and Voice 5
Who is telling a story and how they’re telling it is as important as what they are talking about. Learn who is the best character to tell your tale and how you find a character voice that is so compelling, your readers won’t want to part with them.
Narratives are capable of communicating a lot more than what is on the surface. Mastering the themes of your work means understanding what your story is about, at its heart. This module will show you how to identify the themes of your work, and how to use motifs and symbols to enhance those ideas.
Basic Writing Craft
Before we dive into the complexities of narrative, let’s briefly examine the importance of basic writing craft: spelling, grammar and sentence structure, and especially punctuation.
Words are our building blocks. We put building them into sentences, then into paragraphs, then the paragraphs turn into pages, and all of a sudden you’ve got a story—it’s like magic! Easy, right?
Not quite. Sentences have a structure that makes them work properly, and making them work properly helps us get our meaning across. It’s the same with correct spelling and grammar: spell the word incorrectly for its context and you change the meaning. If you know you’re not good at spelling or grammar, then it’s a good idea to get up to speed, even if it’s just with the basics. It’s never too late. Below is a list of tools of the trade.
The very least you need to know is the following before we can move on:
The basic parts of a sentence are: subject, verb, and object.
- Subject: A noun (generally), which is a naming word for a person, place, thing, event, quality.
- Verb: Generally follows the subject, and is a ‘doing word’, i.e. an action, a state of being, an experience.
- Object: Generally another noun that follows the verb and receives its action, e.g. ‘The girl [subject] kicked [verb] the ball [object].’
And let’s not forget:
- Adjectives: Words that describe nouns, e.g. ‘large’, ‘intense’, ‘red’, ‘rapid’.
- Adverbs: Words that describe verbs, usually ‘ly’ words – e.g. ‘walks slowly’, ‘runs quickly’.
Don’t abuse adjectives or adverbs! Use them sparingly and in a considered fashion because adding too many weighs your sentences down.
Sentence structure is hardwired into every reader’s brain, so that even if we don’t understand the definition of a word or descriptor, we still understand (based on our understanding of sentence structure) whether that word is meant to be the subject, a verb or an object. This structure is the reason why the nonsense poetry of Lewis Carol still makes a certain kind of sense to us:
’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsywere the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.
“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!”
He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought —
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stoodawhile in thought.
—Lewis Carol, Jabberwocky (1872)
You can see we have underlined all the nouns, italicised the adjectives and bolded the verbs. Though you may not understand the meaning of the words, because of correct structure you are still able to get a sense of what is being described and as such still understand the narrative.