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Saturday, 11 February 2017


Theme for this Term:    Realizing

This is an important theme because it is ALSO a way of thinking about the overall form of a piece of writing.   A story or a poem very often ends with a moment of surprise when the reader, or a character.    In a popular story, or in a detective novel, the reader is kept from knowing how things are going to end, who the guilty person is,  until the end.   The cunning writing can even lead the reader down the garden path a bit by giving him the idea that it’s Christina who’s the vampire, when it fact’s cunning Mark.    In other kinds of writing you find that often the writer him/herself suddenly realise them thing as they write:  that’s why I’m fascinated with goldfish!    Or the writer may make a character look into the complicated mesh of branches against the sky and lead us to think, yes, problems can be like that.  

If you remember the narrative structure diagram I gave you (version of it below), the last part of it is the ‘resolution’ and it’s this that presents the ‘realization’,  which needs to be a surprise of some sort because the story otherwise would be boring;  we’d have guessed what was going to happen.

Often, of course, realization works at a more personal level when we, or the character we are writing through, realizing something about him or herself.     This is what we mean when we say that writing is a kind of learning.   And it’s the best kind of learning because we have done it ourselves.  

The story structure was created by Labov, originally, to describe oral narratives, but has been used for written work as well.  We also need to bear in mind that it applies to non-narrative texts too, of you alter 'situation' to something like 'thought' or 'feeling'


An ordinary situation
husband and wife having supper at home

The ordinary situation is upset in some way
She tells him she's got a lover.   They are about to run away together.

The upset creates a problem
What will be do?   Not only is he heartbroken, but his wife is very rich.

The main character tries to deal with the problem
Next evening at supper he tells his wife he has murdered the lover   

The problem is resolved (not necessarily solved)*
The wife rushes to the lover's house and finds him dead and rings the police.
The husband has resolved his problem.   However:.

The resolution is not what we expected
 We realize and she realizes that she has fallen into a trap left by the husband that will lead 
to her being accused of the murder.

*The attempt to deal with the problem can lead to further problems which have to be dealt with, thus lengthening and complicating the story

A child 
       realizes. . .
Write something in which a child realises something.  Something about nature, Mummy, adults, caterpillars, him/herself

In The Wizard of Oz Dorothy realizes that the wizard is in fact a fake.     In The Ugly Duckly, the duckling realises he’s a swan.

Week Two One

Realising they’re human.

Write something in which
someone who’s always seemed

very cold and distant shows that

they have feelings, which you
hadn’t suspected.

People are sometimes brought up ‘not to show their feelings’ or they may be insecure and fear to ‘let their guard down’,  and they may be trying to conceal their feelings from you for some reason.   Inability to show feelings is often seen as a male characteristic because ‘boys don’t cry’.   But that doesn’t always hold.  

Scrooge – has a change of heart

Week Three

Realizing they’re not so stupid, or weak after all. . .

Write something about a person  who  seems in some way ‘inferior’.   But then something happens that shows  different

The elephant has no time at all for the stupid scuttling little mouse until one day something gets caught in the elephant’s trunk and he needs someone delicate and small to get it out.

The old woman insists on sleeping in the garden shed.   One night the house burns down.

The posh schoolboy jeers at the garden boy every time he goes past but one day finds the boy was become famous for his roses.

Wife grows tired of her boring stay-at-home husband, and when she’s out enjoying herself and gets kidnapped, who ends up as the hero of her rescue?

Or David makes us realize that with God's help and some cunning the small can defeat the big



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