Over the last few weeks I have been running a series of tutorials on how to tell your own stories to your children so far we have covered:
Today I am going to move onto talking about the middle section of stories. Middles can be problematic. You get off to a good start, we have thought about the five W’s, your characters are simple but bold and your kids are hooked on your every word. Then you get lost. You have too many lose ends to tie up. You wonder what on earth you are going to do with your cast of 87 characters, how will you get them home from Mar’s and what on earth will you do with the pet baboon they picked up along the way?
Today’s tutorial will look at what middles are all about and how to avoid some of the pitfalls that they sometimes bring.
What are middles?
They are the meat of the sandwich, the jam in donut. The middle part of the story should be exciting and packed full of action. You have introduced your five w’s, your main characters are established and the story is on it’s way. But what should be in the middle section of a story?
All stories need conflict. This could be external - we need to get out of the cave before the dragon returns, or internal – mother told me to stay on the path but those flowers are so pretty.
You want to keep your listener engaged in the story so you should add more hooks (the parts of the story that make you want to keep listening) parts of the story that make you want to keep listening. These hooks will heighten the stakes for the main character. For example in the Wizard of Oz Dorothy collects friends along the way so the trip to see the Wizard becomes more and more important.
This is the turning point in the story. The moment where the character either wins or looses. For example in Cindarella the climax comes when the Prince puts the slipper on her foot. In the Wizard of Oz it is the moment when Dorothy realises she can take herself home and clicks her heels together.
What To Avoid
Keep it simple
When you get started with telling stories it is easy to tell yourself in adventure knots. Do yourself a favour and keep things as simple as possible. You don’t need to create the Lord of the Rings to make it magical for your child.
Don’t start introduce characters like crazy
Characters can be fun but add too many to the mix and you may have more problems that you can solve. Of course you may wish to run a story series of some kind in which case you can incorporate a lot of characters but when you are just getting started with stories then less is more! Better to tell a great tale about one little boy or girl than to get lost in the woods with the old lady who lived in a shoe and all her children.
And If you get stuck…
Think of the least likely thing to happen.
If you get stuck in a story which is bound to happen at some point then one of the first things you can try is to think of the least likely thing to happen and then make exactly that take place.
Earthquakes, hurricanes, volcano’s erupting, terrible storms. Throw one into your story mix and getting out of your plot muddle will either be solved or you will buy yourself time to solve it.
Remember there are no rules! Even if your story has stayed firmly in the world of reality up until this point there is nothing to stop you throwing in a bit of magic at any stage. Just the other night I was telling my son a story about a little boy with a dog when we suddenly ended up in a magical woods with wizards. trolls, witches and fairies. The story didn’t start like that but I needed help with my plot that our world couldn’t give me!
Don’t Worry, Be Happy
Remember the main goal is to have quality time with your child. If the story gets silly, stuck or in a complete muddle it doesn’t matter. You could always make the character wake up and have it all be a dream. If it works for Dallas and Bobby Ewing then it can work for you!
OVER TO YOU
As ever feel free to fire any questions or tips you have into the comments below. Have you tried telling one of your own stories yet?