The Narrative - Simon HIggins' Orientation

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Writing the opening of a narrative using Simon HIggins' Orientation

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The Narrative - Simon HIggins' Orientation

  1. 1. THE NARRATIVE The Orientation
  2. 2. The Beginning… ◦ The opening sentence must appeal to the reader‟s interest and imagination, so that he or she will want to read on to find out what follows: ◦ An action ◦ Dialogue ◦ A thought or question ◦ A sound Begin your story as close to the main event as possible. For example, if it‟s a story about being marooned on a tropical island, don‟t begin the story two weeks before you leave, reading through travel brochures. Begin on or near the island. If you‟re writing about a day at the beach, don‟t begin waking up, getting dressed, and having breakfast--begin at the beach! Get right into the action so that you don‟t lose your reader! Also, since it is very difficult to weave many characters throughout the story, a good strategy is to have your main character start off alone.
  3. 3. Writing with the 5 Senses ◦ Description in Creative Writing is important. You are trying to create a „world‟ in the story so that they can answer the question: „What is this place like?‟ ◦ Why Sensory Detail is Important ◦ Information about what things we might encounter with our senses is vital in creative writing. This kind of detail is what brings a scene alive for the reader. Imagine reading a story in which nothing is said about what a setting or character looks like. Reading creates a picture in the reader‟s mind, and it‟s difficult to visualize something when we don‟t know what we‟re meant to be seeing. ◦ Remembering to Use All Five Senses ◦ When we think of detail, we tend to imagine first what a thing or place looks like. Your reader needs that information, too. But remember that we have five senses: sight, smell, taste, hearing and touch. ◦ All of these can come into a description, and each makes the thing you are describing seem more real to the reader.
  4. 4. AN ACTION ◦ Put your main character in your setting doing something interesting and relevant to the story. Ask: What would you do? ◦ ex. Joey ran full steam ahead across the corral and jumped on the back of the wild stallion!
  5. 5. DIALOGUE ◦ -Have your main character say something. Ask: What might you say or exclaim? ◦ ex. “I can‟t wait to see the Grand Canyon!” I shouted.
  6. 6. A THOUGHT OR QUESTION ◦ -Show the main character’s thoughts, or raise a story question. Ask: What would you wonder or worry? ◦ ex. I wondered if we‟d make it out alive.
  7. 7. A SOUND ◦ Grab the reader’s attention through the use of a sound. Ask: What might you hear? ◦ ex. BOOM! Jack flinched as the thunder and lightning rolled in over the hills.
  8. 8. Simon Higgins‟ Orientation ◦ Use this simple exercise to help you write a powerful story opening ◦ You are going to write 10 sentences ◦ Keep them simple, short & clear ◦ Write only what you are asked to… ◦ The opening involves 2 characters only. ◦ This opening concerns these 2 characters meeting face to face for the first time in years… ◦ Choose your „voice‟: either use the first person point of view (one of the characters tells the story) OR employ the third person point of view (the writer themselves is the all-knowing narrator) ◦ Maintain this same point of view throughout the scene
  9. 9. 10 Sentence Beginning ◦ Write one sentence about the WEATHER and the PLACE where you and the other person are. ◦ Inside the quintessential country pub the air was just as hot and dusty as it was outside. ◦ Choose a SOUND that you can both hear. Don‟t over-describe the sound, but be specific. Write only one sentence. ◦ In the distance the church bell rang at regular intervals; it was eleven o‟clock. ◦ Write a sentence about a small OBJECT that is near or between you and the other person. ◦ Even the bonsai tree in a pot on the table between us was wilted and apathetic. ◦ Write a one sentence update on the WEATHER. Is it changing in any way? ◦ Whilst it was only in my imagination, the heat appeared to intensify. ◦ Write a sentence about an ITEM OF CLOTHING or an ACCESSORY that you (or the other person) are wearing or carrying. ◦ My father wore a old, faded jacket that hung loosely off his shoulders.
  10. 10. 10 Sentence Beginning ◦ Repeat the SOUND from Sentence 2. If it is an intermittent sound, make it happen again. If it is a continuous sound, have the other person (or both of you) notice it once more. ◦ The silence of the Church bells was deafening; the tolling of the bells would be my only relief from this meeting. ◦ Mention the OBJECT from Sentence 3 again and connect it to a mood or emotion. ◦ I looked down at the bonsai tree, and it suddenly looked as trapped as I felt. ◦ Whoever wore or carried the ITEM OF CLOTHING/ACCESSORY in Sentence 5, make them now do something with it - some small action. OR write about another item of clothing and do something with it – some small action. ◦ My father tugged nervously at the loose cotton on the frayed edge on the cuff of his jacket. ◦ I removed my cap to wipe the sweat from my brow. ◦ Write a sentence describing one PHYSICAL TRAIT of the other person or that you possess. ◦ I peered into my father‟s piercing blue eyes. ◦ Either you or the other person finally speaks. The DIALOGUE (statement OR question) is intriguing or dramatic, or hints at an issue/problem. Avoid clichés. Keep it subtle. ◦ “It‟s been a long time,” my father sighed.
  11. 11. The Final Product Inside the quintessential country pub the air was just as hot and dusty as it was outside. In the distance the church bell rang at regular intervals; it was eleven o‟clock. Even the bonsai tree in a pot on the table between us was wilted and apathetic. Whilst it was only in my imagination, the heat appeared to intensify. My father wore a old, faded jacket that hung loosely off his shoulders. The silence of the church bells was deafening; the tolling of the bells would be my only relief from this meeting. I looked down at the bonsai tree, and it suddenly looked as trapped as I felt. My father tugged nervously at the loose cotton on the frayed edge on the cuff of his jacket. I removed my cap to wipe the sweat from my brow. I peered into my father‟s piercing blue eyes. “It‟s been a long time,” my father sighed.
  12. 12. Another Example Rain dripped off the pine trees outside the Byron Life Savers‟ Club when we met again. Drums pounded but not as loudly as usual. A lone thong lay half-buried in the sand. The rain slowed. Mum put down her wine glass. She tapped her fingernails on her glass in time with the pounding drums. The thong finally gave up and was washed into the sea. The glass swayed. Mum‟s eyes, full of life and adventure, became shuttered. “Why, after all this time? Written by: L. Cadzow-Andreas

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