Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Cumulative Stories


It's Writing Wednesday. Let's think about cumulative stories. They're stories which are formed by an accumulation of successive elements. The pattern adds new characters or events, building so that the main character eventually arrives at a final situation or resolution. Cumulative stories can be pleasurable for the reader because there's built in anticipation. It's interesting to see what the next addition will be and how that will affect the main character. If you want to write a cumulative story, perhaps it's a good idea to think of a main character, and then think of the end point of the story. Next build the accumulation of other characters or events which will be troublesome (or helpful) through the middle. They are all links on the chain which repeat as the story progresses. Remind yourself, if you'd like, by reading the story of The Old Woman and Her Pig here. The end point is the old woman succeeding in getting home. Glimpse The Gingerbread Man here. The end point is when he is eaten by the fox. In the lovely Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain, the dry African plain is described and the end point comes when a boy pierces a cloud with an arrow, bringing much needed rain. Look here. That book was inspired by the familiar, This Is the House That Jack Built. Check it out here. A list of more cumulative books is here. How about trying to write one?

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