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Writing: Storymaking

Create an Arresting Narrator

 

Today's Snack: Melt five or six caramel candies in the microwave. Stir in just a few drops of milk or water. While this caramel sauce is warm, dip apple slices in. Wash down with . . . what else? . . . apple juice.

 

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Supplies:

Writing notebook or lined paper and No. 2 pencil

 

You can also gather up famous children's books

 

The "point of view" in a story means who's telling it. Sometimes, the story just unwinds and you "watch" it, as if watching a movie or TV show. But other times, there will be a "narrator" - someone or something that "narrates," or tells, the story from his or her particular point of view.

 

The best stories have the best narrators. They are usually vivid characters, human or fantasized. In fact, they should be so interesting that they are "arresting" - they are so entertaining that you literally stop what you're doing - "arrest" yourself - and pay attention.

 

In children's literature, there are many, many examples of unique, memorable, interesting narrators.

 

For example, the dog in Bunnicula tells the story, but of course, we all know a dog can't write or speak . . . but we still enjoy that dog's narration to the max.

 

If you were able to gather together examples of famous children's books, review them and discover who the narrator is in each of them.

 

Similarly, the man named "Ishmael" who narrates the famous adult novel, Moby Dick, gives us the point of view of a sailor on board a whaling ship, with all the rich details and interesting information that he knows because of his unique, nautical point of view.

 

Point of view is usually in "first person" - the narrator is part of the story and refers to himself or herself with pronouns such as "I," "me" and "we."

 

But point of view also is frequently in "third person." That's when someone outside the direct storyline tells what happened - using pronouns such as "he," "she," "they," or the name of the character.

 

A good point of view helps bring your message alive to your reader. Sometimes, "who" is telling a story is more meaningful to the reader than "what" the story is about. A unique, refreshing point of view tends to make writing more lively, credible and memorable.

 

With nonfiction, sometimes it's best to be your own narrator. But sometimes, you can liven up boring and tedious material by writing from another vantage point.

 

For example, circle which point of view you think would be best after these three story ideas:

 

 

1.      a description of how an automotive engine starts up:

 

you or a sparkplug miraculously come-to-life

 

 

2.      a book report on Moby Dick:

 

you or the Great, White Whale

 

 

3.      a historical account of the mass murders of 20 million Jews in "purges" by Soviet leader Josef Stalin:

 

you or an imaginary teenage survivor

 

 

 

 

In your writing notebook or on a piece of lined paper,

write a story about yourself,

but have someone or something else as the narrator.

 

Draw that narrator to go with the story.

 

 

 

By Susan Darst Williams www.AfterSchoolTreats.com Writing 2010

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