Introduction to Story
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.
The art and craft of storytelling
It’s all about telling a good story and telling it well. Whether it’s for the page, the screen or the stage, understanding the fundamentals of good storytelling is crucial to keep your audience riveted, from the first word to the last page.
Our five-part introductory course gives you a thorough understanding of all aspects of storytelling or creative narrative. How to use pace and tension to drive a plot, how to create compelling characters and how to make your settings pop. Learn everything you need to know through detailed information, practical exercises and examples drawn from dozens of successful, contemporary Australian writers. All this at your own pace to make sure you get the most out of every stage of the course. And once you complete the course, you can come back for a complete refresher or dip in and out, anytime you want!*
Whatever your writing goals, a solid grasp of narrative fundamentals or storytelling will help bring out the best in your writing.
In this course, you will learn:
- The fundamental structures and devices that drive a plot
- How write engaging narratives that keep your audience riveted
- How to structure your narrative to manage pacing and heighten tension
- The skill of creating compelling characters that connect to your readers
- The building-blocks of of story
Introduction to Story is entirely self-guided, so you can progress at your own pace. The course will teach you the core skills of telling stories that are engaging, well-developed, and fun. Course content is delivered in a series of written lessons and exercises.
Once you’ve purchased the course, the content will remain open to you so you can come back any time for a refresher or dip in and out of the course content.*
How to access this course
This course is available from the moment your purchase is confirmed. Just go to the curriculum tab, click the first lesson, and start learning! You must be logged in to access your purchased content.
QWC members – please note that your QWC Membership ID cannot be used to access course content on this site. You must first register on this site. To do this, simply go to the top right-hand corner of the window and click ‘register’. Then just follow the prompts! Once you’ve done that, you can select the course you’re interested in and follow the purchase link. When you get to the checkout on this site, the page will prompt you for a discount coupon code. Enter the your QWC Membership Discount Code and your discount will apply instantly.
For more information have a look at our Online Learning Frequently Asked Questions here.
* Once purchased, you will have access to all the course content for up to two years.
- Lectures 27
- Quizzes 0
- Duration 8 hours
- Skill level Beginner
- Language English
- Students 94
- Certificate Yes
- Assessments Yes
What is narrative? This module will explore the psychology of narrative, and offer a quick refresher on basic writing craft.
Plot and Structure
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
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
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.