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.
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.