The Story Weaver


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Others arriving at the toilet entrance were also making a U-turn. Perhaps it was a cultural misunderstanding. Do you know what Spanish tapas are? There are all kinds of suggestions out there. Email address:. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to The Cultural Story-Weaver with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Home About My Story Contact. Toggle Navigation. Recent Posts. June 26, Cross-Cultural Family , Global Stories. June 24, June 21, Cross-Cultural Family.

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June 17, Cultural Differences. There are those who wear hats when developing characters and others who pantomime action sequences to get in the feel of it. Open yourself to different writing media. If you only use a desktop computer, try a laptop, a palm organizer with a folding keyboard, long hand on a pad, or a digital voice recorder. And don't be afraid to switch around any of these from time to time and mood to mood. If you still can't come up with an idea, try the Synthesis Technique. In brief, you want to subject yourself to two disparate sources of information.

For example, put a talk radio program on while reading a magazine or watching television and let the odd juxtaposition spur your notions. Finally, if all else fails, try using Nonsense Words. Just jot down three random words, such as "Red Ground Rover. For example, Red Ground Rover might be:. A red dog named rover whose legs are so short his belly rubs the ground 2. The Martian Rover space vehicle on the red planet's surface 3. Fresh hamburger made from dog. Your list might go on and on. Now most of these potential meanings might be pure rubbish, but occasionally a good idea can surface.

If the first three words don't work, try three different ones.

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And, in the end, even if you don't find an idea directly from your explanations of each phrase, you'll have so stocked the creative spirit that you will find yourself far more prone to inspiration than before you started the exercise. Use these inspiration techniques to come up with a log line for your story. A log line is simply a one- or two-sentence description of what your story is about in general.

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They are the same kind of short descriptions you find in TV Guide or in your cable or satellite TV guide. A sample log line might be, "The marshal in an old western town struggles to stop a gang that is bleeding the town dry.

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Once you've been inspired enough to create a log line, you can move into the second stage of Story Weaving: Development. Here is where you take your basic concept and flesh it out with lots more detail. In Development you'll begin to populate your story with people you might like to write about, work out some of the things that will happen in your story, and establish the world or environment in which it takes place. These efforts will ultimately result in your characters, plot, theme, and genre.

There are many Story Weaving techniques for the Development stage, but one of the most powerful is to project your world beyond what is specifically stated in the log line. As an example, let's use the log line from above: "The marshal in an old western town struggles to stop a gang that is bleeding the town dry.

The only specifically called-for characters are the marshal and the gang. But, you'd expect the gang to have a leader and the town to have a mayor. The marshal might have a deputy. And, if the town is being bled dry, then some businessmen and shopkeepers would be in order as well. Range a little wider now and list some characters that aren't necessarily expected, but wouldn't seem particularly out of place in such a story. Now, let yourself go a bit and list a number of characters that would seem somewhat out of place but still explainable in such a story.

Although you'll likely discard these characters, just the process of coming up with them can lead to new ideas and directions for your story. For example, the town marshal might become more interesting if he was a history buff, specifically reading about the Roman Empire. In his first run-in with the gang, he is knocked out cold with a concussion. For the rest of the story, he keeps imagining the Ghost of Julius Caesar giving him unwanted advice.

This same kind of approach can be applied to your log line to generate the events that will happen in your story, the values you will explore, and the nature of your story's world which will become your genre. The third stage of Story Weaving is to lay out an Exposition Plan for your story. By the time you complete the Development Stage, you will probably have a pretty good idea what your story is about.

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But your audience knows nothing of it - not yet - not until you write down what you know. Of course, you could just write, "My story's goal is to rid the town of the gang that is bleeding it dry. The marshal is the protagonist, and he ultimately succeeds, but at great personal cost. Sure, it's a story, but not a very interesting one.

If you were to unfold your story in this perfunctory style, you'd have a complete story that felt just like that "paint by numbers" picture we encountered earlier.

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Part of what gives a story life is the manner in which story points are revealed, revisited throughout the story, played against each other and blended together, much as a master painter will blend colors, edges, shapes and shadows. As an example, let's create an Exposition Plan to reveal a story's goal. Sometimes a goal is spelled out right at the beginning, such as a meeting in which a general tells a special strike unit that a senator's daughter has been kidnapped by terrorists and they must rescue her.

Other times, the goal is hidden behind an apparent goal. So, if your story had used the scene described above, it might turn out that it was really just a cover story and, in fact, the supposed "daughter" was actually an agent who was assigned to identify and kill a double agent working on the strike team. Goals may also be revealed slowly, such as in The Godfather, where it takes the entire film to realize that the goal is to keep the family alive by replacing the aging Don with a younger member of the family.

Further, in The Godfather , as in many Alfred Hitchcock films, the goal is not nearly as important as the chase or the inside information or the thematic atmosphere. So don't feel obligated to elevate every story point to the same level. Let your imagination run wild. Jot down as many instances as come to mind in which the particular story point comes into play. Such events, moments or scenarios enrich a story and add passion to a perfunctory telling of the tale.

One of the best ways to do this is to consider how each story point might affect other story points. For example, each character sees the overall goal as a step in helping them accomplish their personal goals. So, why not create a scenario where a character wistfully describes his personal goal to another character while sitting around a campfire? He can explain how achievement of the overall story goal will help him get what he personally wants.

An example of this is in the John Wayne classic movie, The Searchers. John Wayne's character asks an old, mentally slow friend to help search for the missing girl. Finding the girl is the overall goal. The friend has a personal goal: he tells Wayne that he just wants a roof over his head and a rocking chair by the fire. This character sees his participation in the effort to achieve the goal as the means of obtaining something he has personally longed for.


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By the time you've created an Exposition Plan for each story point you worked on in the Development phase, you'll have assembled a huge number of events, moments, and scenarios. There's only one thing left to do: tell your story! Storytelling is a multi-faceted endeavor. It incorporates style, timing, blending of several story points into full-bodied scenes, sentence structure, grammar, vocabulary, and good old-fashioned charisma. Story Mechanics often get stuck at this point. They write one great line and become so intimidated by its grandeur they are afraid to write anything else lest it not measure up to that initial quality.

Don't grieve over every phrase to try and make yourself look better than you are. Just spew out the words and get the story told. Something not up to snuff? That's what re-writes are for! Get in touch with your own passions. Each of us is born a passionate human being. But we quickly learn that the world does not appreciate all our emotional expressions.

In no time, we develop a whole bag of behaviors that don't truly reflect who we really are. But, they do help us get by. Problem is, these false presentations of our selves appear to be our real selves to everyone else. So, they give us presents we don't really want, make friendships with people we don't really like, and even marry people we don't really love!

This false life we develop is a mask, but by no means is it always a well-fitting one.

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