Stern’s Story Starters - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Stern’s Story Starters

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  1. Stern’s Story Starters Part I Page 3-57

  2. Facade “Tell an anecdote in the voice of a character who is not you. But as the character tells his story have him unknowingly undercut or discredit his explanation.” Page 5-7

  3. juggling “When you have your character do one thing and think about something else not only do you create tension, you create character. Juggling- back and forth between action and thought.” • “A paragraph of thoughts ranging over decades can occur while a shoelace is being tied…” • Aim for action. A person laying in bed thinking is passive, and does not work very well here. Page 8-11

  4. iceberg “Write an argument in which the characters’ real feelings are not fully expressed…What your characters don’t say can be most important.” Page 12-14

  5. Last lap At the start of your story place your character close to the climax of a series of events. • Shift from present to past to build tension • Action must involve movement and effort! Page 15-17

  6. Trauma Start with a traumatic event. A storm, a death, an accident. The reader will be intrigued and the characters are forced to react, revealing themselves and…developing! Page 18-20

  7. Specimen “Write a story telling one anecdote about a memorable character.” • Choose or create a single event that is revealing. Dramatize the event and character. • “The story will focus on a single main action that will provide tension, immediacy, and feeling.” Page 21-24

  8. gathering “Put a main character in a situation that draws people together—a party, a competition, a meeting, a holiday, festival.” • Choose a narrator that is close to the action or a foreigner who is a newcomer or stranger. Page 25-26

  9. A day in the life • Created by the unit of time involved • This shape needs to be wound tight! • Trap them somewhere • Explain behind the scenes • Include routine and non-routine incidents. Page 27-29

  10. onion “Situations take place inside situations that are within larger situations.” • Your characters are caught in a complex problem. • This shape brings characters together by entanglement, complication, and resolution (or lack thereof). Page 30-32

  11. journey “The Journey is the oldest, truest, most inescapable shape for a story…someone is always setting out from home.” • Does not have to be a literal journey. Can be physical/mental, deliberate/accidental, voluntary/forced, quest/flight. • *Ordinary life is left behind Page 33-36

  12. visitation “Visitation may be the second oldest. It’s the shape that starts with an unexpected boat pulling up on the shore, the loud knock at the door, the ringing of the phone.” • Ordinary life is disrupted • Can be pleasant/unpleasant, comic/terrifying, annoying/promising. Page 37-39

  13. Aha! “A character comes to a realization. This is the shape of discovery, of disillusionment, and of revelation.” • This is a natural shape in life • The Aha! should be persuasive. Page 40-44

  14. Bear at the door Character has a significant problem that is both pressing and immediate. Grab the reader’s attention. The conflict within the character intensifies the tension of the situation. Reactions must be in character. Page 45-47

  15. snapshot “Single moments—crises, revealing incidents, or epiphanies—make crisp, focused short stories.” • It is difficult to have an intensified story if you span years…keep it contained. Page 48-50

  16. Blue moon “Blue Moon stories appeal to our deepest selves. We enter the world of magic, myth, and dream—fabulous characters, unfathomable mysteries, or chimerical creatures.” • Use your imagination, but make sure the reader can imagine it. Ground the fantastical in the realistic. Page 51-54