In order to tell any story, one must know what a story consists of. According to Aaron Shepard, a story will have a theme, a plot, a story structure, characters, setting(s), and style and tone. A good writer will know these areas of his/her story well. As the writer, in order to take the story to the next level, will need five elements to make it powerful.
- The story must resonate within us.
- Connecting to the soul
- Thread it to the story of humanity
- The story will show the light and the dark.
- The hero is invincible
- The villain is the very definition of evil
- Rare to be done, but possible to do
- The story will point to a greater cause.
- Purpose is greater than own well being
- It is a common goal
- The story will teach – but in a different way.
- Honest and open lives make it engaging
- Being open to true self
- The story will leave room for interpretation.
- No explanation for quick answers
- Allow for readers’ own ideas and ask questions
The five elements is what we should strive to teach children. With these five elements in mind, teachers can create a foundation on which construction will never stop. Teaching these elements does not have to only be taught during writing workshops. It can be taught during reading. Think about it, you can teach these elements to kindergarteners. It sounds like a young age to bring such abstract topics to a five year old, but it is the delivery that will make it affective. During read-a-loud time, the teacher can very easily have the students reflect on the story through questions. Ask them how they feel about what was read to them and take it a step further to ask them why he/she thinks they feel like so. This is the process of connecting and interpreting the reading at the first level. Having a connection to a reading – or a story in whatever method told – means to have emotion(s) stir inside. A kindergartener is aware of the basic emotions and they can very well tell you how they are feeling. When you ask them why a character may have done something it is creating room for interpretation. Children’s books do have more of an upfront reason for the actions of characters, usually it is to teach desired behavior in society, but that does not mean that it can be interpreted.
Teachers should ask the students to share their thoughts and have an open mind about the answers they may receive. An interpretation does not have to be right; it just has to be supported. Interpretations are built from an individual’s experiences, culture, and/or social environment. The author will have an overall theme and have one point for writing the story, but that should not mean that the interpretation of one student being different than the teacher’s and the writer’s has to be completely wrong. As long as they can find supporting details in the book to prove their point, why can it not be correct in their eyes?
Interpretations relate to connections.
That is a powerful word when it comes to powerful stories. Connecting to the character or the plot will change how the reader views the story. It will open windows that may otherwise not have been seen. Connections in the stories we tell everyday are powerful within themselves. Michael Hyatt explains the importance of connections in our society in a concise and short manner.
“With the power of social media, this is the new direction of business and relationships. People connect with other people. It’s no coincidence that people and companies who tell powerful stories are the ones who have the most passionate tribes. We desire to be known, and to know others.”
Connections in books help them be more enjoyable. Connections in the “real” world make it easier to succeed. Having a friend who knows a friend that works for the CEO of X company will make it much easier to find a job there. Connections do not only help us move up in life. They also help us stay in touch with our humanity. We want to know others and for them to know us. Upon meeting new people it is a similarity – a connection, a spark – that allows for a conversation to occur. If more connections are found then a relationship develops. You are friends with those similar to you. Your significant other is someone like you. You sympathize or even empathize with others when connections are made. Sad events, happy events, thriller events will make people come closer. In the same way that stories make people come closer. Those who relate to the character will find they can relate to those reading the same story. Connections are the glue for human beings. It is the magnet that pulls us in as human beings.
Having connections with others is a natural part of us. This is the lens that can help teach children how powerful stories are created. If we can have students write an autobiography with a fictional aspect (to make it fun), it can help them learn to put a part of themselves in future writing to make it more powerful.