1. Stammis
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    Stammis Contributing Member

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    Dynamic story telling

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Stammis, Sep 28, 2015.

    So I am having problems with the first section of my book. It starts of by first providing a setting where an old man is telling a story to a group of children. However, I cannot makes the story he is telling feel dynamic.

    Are there any tips for this or should I just make into a dialogue of the children asking questions?

    There is so much to tell but I dont want to tell to much, at the same time I think that the reader should have some basic knowledge of the world of the characters.
     
  2. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    That's a tried and true method of storytelling. I'd say if you're struggling, the solution is probably simple. Pretend it's you, and that you're telling the story to somebody you know, preferably a child. Your tone should develop quickly. How would you speak to this person? Just use your own voice.

    Children enjoy hearing about something unusual, so don't be afraid to start with an unusual character, an unusual situation or an unusual point of view. Their mental response should be "No, REALLY?"

    I don't know anything about your story or situation, but when you're telling a story to children you can afford to be dramatic. Beware of talking down to them, though. They may not have heard this story before, but they're not stupid.
     
  3. Stammis
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    Stammis Contributing Member

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    I am not sure if you are talking about real children or the children in the book :p I get that I should imagine talking to a child when telling the story, but the story is for the reader and I am not making a children´s book.

    Also, maybe I should clarify a few things, it is a fantasy and the old man that is telling the story is explaining their peoples past. For instance, that their homeland was destroyed and that they immigrated to the land that they currently live in, only it was inhabited when they got there. it is a long story that the characters discover more of during the course of the book, but I want to summeries a few points at the start. Basically, the character questions whether what they have been told is actually true.
     
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  4. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Ah, so he's basically reciting history, then? Hmmm. That takes a bit more thought.

    However, if he's talking to children when he tells the story, I think you need to use that kind of voice. It also depends on how old the children are. You're not writing a children's story ...I actually got that from what you had originally posted ...but if he's talking to children, that voice needs to come through. Definitely don't talk down to them, but don't lose them either. Is this history the result of some child asking a question, or is he in the position of 'teacher,' or what?
     
  5. Stammis
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    Stammis Contributing Member

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    He is kind of the teacher of the noble families children. They are around 14 years old. The thing is, I want to create a world where there is racism towards the original inhabitants and I want it to be ingrained into their society. Thus at 14 they should already know about the story. I need to create a reason to why the teacher is telling the story and why they are asking questions afterwards. At the time of the story telling, it is a few days before the thousand years anniversary of their arrival to this land.

    I think that is the problem actually. Because the setting doesn't make sense for me I cannot imagine the scene, and thus I cannot make the text dynamic. I imagine everything I make in my head before I write it after all.
     
  6. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Yeah, I reckon you'll need to get the backstory straight in your own head before you start on this phase of your writing. I'd say creating a reason for discussing this issue with the children is probably crucial as well.

    Note I said 'discussing' not 'telling.' If these kids already know the story, telling it to them again is going to make some (if not all) of them drop off the branch. I'd avoid this. That would just be infodump on behalf of the readers, wouldn't it? Instead, maybe create a reason that makes the kids anxious, or makes them think something major is about to happen, or makes them question portions of their history they are beginning to doubt. Maybe the kids should be the ones who bring the topic up. In other words, they approach the teacher for answers to questions. They are worried because...?

    If you can convey their anxiety, that would make the scene dynamic enough. If anxiety isn't appropriate (maybe they are arrogant, or outraged, or sad) then find some other way for the children to initiate the 'talk' with the teacher. And if they already know the basics, then don't bore them to death telling them what they already know. Turn the thing around to a new perspective, while letting the reader in on the history itself at the same time! Tricky, but it works. Think how Gandalf told Frodo about the history of the Ring in the book. It was a cleverly-done real-time infodump, for sure. Not so cleverly done in the movie, where it was all wadded in as a prologue—an infodump that would not have made much sense to anybody who hadn't read the book.

    As to the teacher's personality, if you haven't already got a grip on that, this is the place to do it. Is the teacher confident? Scared himself? Feeling too old to be of any use? Getting himself straight into the thick of things? Trying to calm the children down? Trying to get them worked up? Trying to get them to think, or to stop thinking? Trying to convert them to some point of view?

    You've got more than just the history to work with here. Work at all levels ...from long-view history, to short term consequences. To what life is like for these children now. What life was like for children in the past, and maybe the future. How does their view differ from that of the teacher (if it does.) And motivation should always be there. What are the motivations of the teacher, the students ...maybe parents or authority figures on the radar here. And what is the real truth, and how much do the kids know about that? See how many aspects of this situation you can work in.
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2015
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