“When we deny the story, it defines us. When we own the story, we can write a brave new ending.” – Brené Brown
Story Structure Basics
Story, or narrative structure is one of the most important and complex language skills necessary for success at all levels of life. But children with language delays often struggle with story- telling due to difficulties with expressive vocabulary, comprehension, or inability to recall details. Oftentimes children with language delays will tell disjointed stories, forget the ending, or begin the story somewhere other than the start.
The narrative structure follows the basic components of setting, plot, and ending. It’s important for a parent or an SLP to help the child understand what information makes up each of these components. The setting should include who, when and where. You can cultivate this skill by asking these questions to your child as you read and/or tell stories. The plot explores the problem, possible solutions, and events that transpire to solve the problem. The ending should clarify what happened and how each character feels.
Visual elements can be very helpful in representing each part of a story as well as prompting children to retell that part of the story. You can write parts of the story on notecards, or have pictures of the scene, and have the child put them in order while retelling or summarizing the story to you. When this skill becomes internalized, you can easily ask the child to use this formula to re-tell or make up a story for you!
Advanced Narrative Activities
Once you have sufficient experience recognizing these necessary narrative activities, you can begin working on the more advanced elements of the story. Let’s take a quick look at four of these more advanced elements:
Mood: how does the writer want the reader to feel?
Perspective: Who is telling the story? Is he the narrator for the first, third, or second person? Are they omniscient or restricted from their point of view? Does the viewpoint change for each character?
Style: It is a unique voice of a single author, re-emphasized by his word selection, sentence structure, plot patterns, etc.
Tone: the overall “flavor” of a story created by combining all these techniques. It is the attitude that the writer shows towards his/her subject and theme.
For more guidance, tips, and tools on improving you or your child’s story-telling skills, contact me for a free initial consultation!