Introduction to Story
What is narrative?
In 1944, psychologists Fritz Heider and Marianne Simmel published an article in The American Journal of Psychology titled ‘An experimental study of apparent behaviour’. It was the result of a series of experiments where the researchers first showed people a short animated film featuring simple black geometric shapes moving and interacting on a white background and then asked the viewers simple questions about what they saw. Responders almost uniformly interpreted the shapes as ‘people’ and their movements as a ‘story’.
Try it yourself. Watch the video embedded above or follow this link if you can’t see it.
What do you see in the film?
For most people, it is difficult to interpret the film as anything but a story. Broadly speaking, humans are hard-wired to see patterns in the world around us and to form those patterns into narratives.
Narrative seems like an obvious thing to define. Narrative is storytelling. But what does that mean? What makes some stories compelling and others deathly dull?
For its writer, narrative is a puzzle, choosing exactly the right words and putting them together to elicit a response from a reader. Narrative is what forms that connection between writer and reader, the rhythm and the structure that takes a story beyond a list of events, an inventory of characters, or an evocation of place. Narrative combines all these things into something more than the sum of its parts.
Narrative affects us; it’s what draws us to keep reading and it’s what inspires us to write.
Narrative structure does not necessarily reflect the chronological order of events. As you explore the components of structure more deeply, you’ll find that narrative structure is merely a tool to help identify and hone your plot. Your protagonist’s story may be vast and complex, but structure helps refine the story to be its most compelling and creates a plot that hooks a reader and doesn’t let go.
Here’s a brief rundown of the topics we’ll cover:
- Plot and structure: Where to start the story? How should a story be structured? Learn to develop a compelling hook, plot and story structure that will keep your readers furiously flicking until the end!
- Characterisation and dialogue: In this week we’ll learn to lay the foundation for creating compelling characters and believable and revealing dialogue.
- Setting and themes: In this section we will explore how to paint a picture of the scene with your words (without going overboard on the description!) and how to use motifs and symbols to enhance the themes in your book.
- Point of view and voice: 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.
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 96
- 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.
Everything you need to start writing your story!
I have procrastinated for many years in starting my novel, but this course both inspired and pushed me to start. The small, yet relevant exercises gave me the stepping stones to begin and feel confident in my writing abilities. I knew of ‘Theme’ and ‘Voice’ and their importance, to which I overwhelmed myself trying to fit them in my story, but this course simplified it and reassured me that I am on the right path! I also love that you can access this course over and over!