Narrative Writing

 

Situation

Your main character does not exist in a vacuum. He operates against a backdrop of trouble that forces him to act. That backdrop, that external state of affairs, is your story situation.

               — Dwight V. Swain, Techniques of the Selling Writer


Most of us are lazy, and we don't act unless something forces us to act.

What is going to force your main character to act?

Usually, it's that

Study the following examples. The highlighted sentences summarize the story situation.

Bernard Stanley is a shy baker. His wife died five years ago, and now he is terribly lonely.

Sonja Simmons is an adventurous college student. While hiking in the wilderness, she discovers a mountain cave.

Mario Lynch is a grumpy detective. One day, a client hires him to investigate a gruesome murder.


Now it's your turn. What is the problem or trouble or predicament that forces your protagonist to act?

Lesson Steps

  1. Open your writing portfolio.
    • Level 16
      • The Six Story Elements
  2. Complete row 2 of the table. What is the situation that forces your protagonist to act?

Your table should now look something like this:

The Six Story Elements
Complete the six story elements
1 Character Bernard Stanley is a shy baker.
2 Situation His wife died five years ago, and now he is unbearably lonely.
3 Objective  
4 Opponent  
5 Disaster  
6 Story Question  

 

  1. When you are finished, return to this page and take the quiz.

Instructions for the Quiz

Answer the questions.

Quiz