Story structure


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Chapter 4, Writing Science, J. Schimel

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  • Thanks! From looking at all the sets you've done it looks like you're doing a really interesting class. And for making your materials available. Josh
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  • Dear Sylvie:
    I am pleased that you found my book 'Writing Science' useful enough to except important messages from it and to use the material in teaching. I'm even fine with your making your slides public--their a nice encapsulation. But may I request that you acknowledge the source on the first slide of the pack that is being posted publicly? You acknowledged 'Writing Science' in another set, but it's easy for people to find just the 'story structure' slide set and never know the original source. Thanks. Josh Schimel
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Story structure

  1. 1. Chapter 4: Story structures 15 maggio 2013
  2. 2. From Writing Science: How to Write Papers That Get Cited and Proposals That Get Funded, Joshua Schimel, 2011
  3. 3. The elements of a story’s structure • • • • Opening (O) Challenge (C) Action (A) Resolution (R)
  4. 4. Opening • Who are the characters, including the main character the story is about? • Where does the story take place? • What do you need to understand to follow the story? • What is the larger problem being addressed?
  5. 5. Challenge • What are your characters trying to accomplish? • What specific question are you trying to answer?
  6. 6. Action • What happens to address the challenge? • What work did you do or are proposing to do (for a proposal)?
  7. 7. Resolution • How have the characters and their world changed as a result of the action? • What did you learn from your work
  8. 8. Four core story structures • OCAR – Slowest, takes time to work into the story • ABDCE – Faster, starts in the action • LD – Faster yet • LDR – Fastest with the whole story up front
  9. 9. OCAR • Opening –Challenge – Action – Resolution • Typical of science papers – Challenge is at the end of the introuction – Resolution comes at the conclusion
  10. 10. ABDCE • Action – Starts with dramatic action to immediately engage readers • Background – Describe characters and setting so that readers can understand the story • Development – Follow the action as the story develops to the climax
  11. 11. ABDCE • Climax – Bring all the threads of the story together and address them • Ending – Same as resolution: what happened to the characters after the climax? • Typical of modern fiction and scientific proposals
  12. 12. A good story is circular • Typical of OCAR and ABDCE structures • By the end, we are back at the beginning – But things have changed, and we need to highlight how they have changed
  13. 13. LD • Lead/Development or the inverted pyramid of news stories – Core of the story is in the first sentence (lead) – Rest of the story fills out the story (development) • In LD, the lead collapses opening, challenge and resolution into a single short section (as short as a sentence).
  14. 14. LDR • Lead/Development and Resolution • Typical of magazine articles – The lead must be engaging, but the resolution is left for the end, to entice the reader to go to the end
  15. 15. Story structure in science writing • Scientific paper: OCAR – O: opening is larger problem and central “characters” – C: challenge is interesting question – A: action is research plan and results – R: resolution is conclusion about how our understanding about the world has changed as a result of the work
  16. 16. Story structure in science writing • Generalist journals (Nature, Science): LDR – Editors are professionals, not scientists – Structure should be similar to other magazines – Start with a strong lead to interest the editors
  17. 17. Story structure in science writing • Proposals: LDR or ABDCE – Your proposal must convince reviewers that the topic identified in the opening is important – It must fill them with excitement at the questions posed in the challenge – If it has not done so within the first two pages, you will lose your audience and not get funded
  18. 18. IMRaD • • • • • Introduction Methods Results and Discussion
  19. 19. Mapping OCAR to IMRaD • Introduction – Opening – Background – Challenge
  20. 20. Mapping OCAR to IMRaD • Introduction: – Opening • • • • First paragraph Introduces the larger problem targeted by the paper What is the context? What are the characters we are studying?
  21. 21. Mapping OCAR to IMRaD • Introduction: – Background • Extension of the Opening section, fleshes out characters • What information does the reader need to understand this work? • Why is it important? • What does it contribute to the larger issues?
  22. 22. Mapping OCAR to IMRaD • Introduction: – Challenge • What are the specific hypotheses/questions/goals of this paper?
  23. 23. Mapping OCAR to IMRaD • Materials and Methods (M&M): – Begins describing the Action – What did you do?
  24. 24. Mapping OCAR to IMRaD • Results: – Continues describing the Action – What were your findings?
  25. 25. Mapping OCAR to IMRaD • Discussion: – Climax and Resolution – What do your findings mean? – What did you learn? – If there is a conclusion, this will be your Resolution
  26. 26. Mapping OCAR to IMRaD • • • • Opening = beginning of Introduction Challenge = end of Introduction Action = M&M + Results + Most Discussion Resolution = end of Discussion
  27. 27. Resolution • Extremely important • Show how your work has changed our understanding of the world • Map back your resolution to your opening – It must say something about the larger problem you identified there • Your conclusion should address a topic as wide as your opening
  28. 28. Hourglass structure
  29. 29. Exercises • Look at the paper you suggested – Which story structure does it use? – Where are its OCAR elements? • Look at the paper you are writing – Are the OCAR elements in place? – If not, rewrite your paper to include them