how to learn from stories

How to Learn From Stories

  • How long is the short story or novel?
  • Are there chapters? Sections? Parts?
  • If it’s a short story, how is it structured?
  • When and where is it set, do/how do these things appear to matter, and how are they conveyed?
  • From whose point of view is the story being told? Is it the story of one, or more than one of the characters?
  • Is there dialogue? If so, what does it contribute to the story? What does it tell you of the characters?
  • Is the language modern, plain, elaborate, colloquial?
  • Are there short or long sentences?
  • Are the sentences ‘properly formed’, or broken down? For example, ‘Get this. Bravery. That wasn’t even in it. Heroism? Maybe that was nearer the mark.’
  • Would you say that the story was a ‘page-turner’?
  • Is it full of ‘researched facts’?
  • Is there much ‘internal’ psychological or emotional detail, or is most of the novel or story taken up with ‘external’ events or description?
  • How do you learn of the main characters?
  • Are the minor characters sufficiently clear or too flat?
  • In your opinion, is it clearly aimed at a certain type of reader?

Thanks to Future Learn and The Open University for their excellent free course at https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/start-writing-fiction/. I don’t own copyright to this material but I’m sure that The Open University won’t mind a free plug in exchange.

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