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Elements of Storytelling. Prof. Myrna Monllor Jim énez BWP Summer Institute. What you need. Establish the problem/ conflict Establish the point of view Provide information as to where, when, the story is happening (setting). Conflict. Point of View The angle from which the story is told.

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elements of storytelling

Elements of Storytelling

Prof. Myrna MonllorJiménez

BWP Summer Institute

what you need
What you need
  • Establish the problem/conflict
  • Establish the point of view
  • Provide information as to where, when, the story is happening (setting)
point of view the angle from which the story is told
Point of ViewThe angle from which the story is told
  • Innocent eye
  • Stream of consciousness
  • First Person
  • Third Person
  • Third Person Omniscient
how can you begin the story
How can you begin the story?
  • Describing the setting
  • Direct or indirect description of the character
  • In the middle of the action
  • With dialogue
“Snow drifted through the streets and now

that it was dusk, Christmas trees glittered in

the windows.

Maria moved her nose off the glass and

Cameback to the counter. She was acting

grown-up now, helping her mother make

tamales. Their hands were sticky with masa.”

From “ Too many Tamales” by Gary Soto


“Long, long ago, in a town that was neither

near nor far, there lived a man who did not like

the night.”

From “The Night of the Stars” by

Douglas Gutierrez, Maria FernandaOliver


“The thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as I best could; but when he ventured upon insult, I vowed revenge. You, who so well know the nature of my soul, will not suppose, however, that I gave utterance to a threat.”

From “The Cask of Amontillado” by Edgar Allan Poe


“ONE DOLLAR AND EIGHTY-SEVEN CENTS. THAT WAS ALL. AND SIXTY CENTS of it was in pennies. Pennies saved one and two at a time by bulldozing the grocer and the vegetable man and the butcher until one's cheeks burned with the silent imputation of parsimony that such close dealing implied. Three times Della counted it. One dollar and eighty-seven cents. And the next day would be Christmas.”

From “The Gift of the Magi” by O. Henry

plot structure map of the story
Plot StructureMap of the Story
  • Aristotle’s Elements of Complex Plots
  • Gustav Freytag’s Pyramid
  • Episodic Plot
  • The Hero’s Journey
  • The Mountain Plot
  • The W Plot

Reversalscharacters find themselves going from good

fortune to bad, and back again

Discoveries What the character discovers about

himself. It can be a talent or a flaw

Complications Something that prevents the protagonist

from achieving his/her goal

Catastrophe Does not have to be physical

Resolution Satisfactory Conclusion

  • a character goes through a series of adventures
  • close to what happens in real life
  • the tension does not generally increase as the story
  • progresses
  • often used in video games
the mountain plot
The Mountain Plot
  • the protagonists’ problems
  • increase in intensity as the
  • plot develops
  • the protagonist either
  • triumphs or fails in his/her
  • objective
the w plot
The W Plot
  • The protagonist encounters his/her first problem
  • Once he/she overcomes it and the reader thinks the
  • protagonist has triumphed, a second worse problem
  • arises
  • The protagonist may/may not be successful in the
  • resolution of the conflict
archetypal motifs
Archetypal Motifs
  • Journeys/Quests
  • Birth/Death
  • The Wise Old Man
  • The Hero
  • Awakening
  • The Savior Motif
how can you conclude the story
How can you conclude the story?
  • Resolution of the principal conflict
  • A symbolic phrase or action
  • A return to the place the story started
  • An open ending
  • A hanging ending
  • Elements of the Short Story


  • Lit Web The Norton Introduction to Literature Website


  • Elements of Good Storytelling