Creating Stories Is Not That Difficult

This post is for people using the StarChart™:

To make a story “pop” in the minds’ eyes of the students, you need only three things:

  1. a character that your students can identify with (and nothing is more near to a student’s heart than a character created by the class (OWI) or by an individual student (ICI).  
  2. a place where something happens (This creates action.)
  3. another supporting character, usually not more than one. (This creates dialogue and ramps up the interest and therefore the quality of the class.

Obviously, no story is possible with action and dialogue.

These three necessities are accomplished in QL2 through QL4.

So, all you have to do to create a compelling story is base it on what you learned in QL2 through QL4.

For example, if you created in class a one word image of a very big orange watermelon who is sad and poor and stupid (QL2), and you then decided with the class that it was in the ocean (QL3 ) with a small whale (QL4), then all you have to do to create a story from that is draw on those pieces of information: the fact that the OWI is a watermelon who it is sad and poor and stupid, and that it is in the ocean with a small whale. 

Then, as if by magic, all those factors INFORM AND CREATE THE PROBLEM IN THE PROBLEM OF THE STORY (QL5) AS WELL AS ITS SOLUTION (QLS 5 AND 6).

CI teachers who attempt to create a story without first developing a character, one that the students identify with, won’t experience much success in their stories. With no developed character, no location (three are not necessary), and with no other supporting cast than a few undeveloped characters, the CI teacher will have no more success than will an author who doesn’t set up her story with those things, to list them again:

(1) a character with certain identifiable qualities (QL2), 

(2) a place for the story to take place (QL3), and 

(3) at least one supporting character (QL4) – who can then be niftily developed using the same OWI prompt questions used in the development of the main character.  

So the point of this post is that you must first establish invisible world links at the heart level with your students and the character they create, then provide a place that drives interest , a place where there is some kind of connection between the character’s nature and where it is; and thirdly provide usually only one strong supporting character.  

In the interesting scenario created when the watermelon made by the students is now floating in the ocean with a whale, IT ALL CONNECTS IN SOME UNPREDICTABLE WAY THAT YOU CAN NEVER PLAN. 

Therefore you cannot FORCE a story to happen. So stop trying so hard. Stop trying to control everything in your CI instruction. Be happy if you only get a tableau vivant out of it. Let the story generate itself by building on previous information created by the class, and if it doesn’t happen, so what? You have a tableau and that is all you need to proceed on around the StarChart™.

(Food is always best in choosing an object for a OWI.)

We now see that it is the character’s nature, when produced in Phase 1 either as a one word image or an individually created image, that naturally then determines where and with whom the character is, and when that (tableau-level image without action and dialogue) is achieved, then a story might happen. 

Why do I say it might happen? Because it might not! And you are free to end all Phase 1 activities being satisfied with just a tableau. Stop putting so much pressure on yourself to create a story five times a day. 

THERE IS NO RULE THAT YOU HAVE TO GET A STORY DONE EVERY TIME YOU TAKE THE CI CAR OUT FOR A SPIN.

What do we conclude from this? That you need to resolve this year to take the pressure off yourself about creating stories in class. You also need to keep in mind that if a story doesn’t happen, it is more due to the lack of sufficient development of a character, where it is and whom it is with. 

If you are unfamiliar with the StarChart™, see the attachment. 

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