Wednesday 26 June 2013

Ten Basic Story Plots

1. Discuss what you consider to be the main basic story plots. Agree on a list together.

2. Consider Christopher Bookers 7 (plus) Basic Plots list:
a) Overcoming the Monster;
b) Rags to riches;
c) The Quest;
d) Voyage and Return;
e) Rebirth;
f) Comedy (happy ending romance);
g) Tragedy (sad ending romance);
h) Rebellion against "the One"
i) Mystery
j) Combinations of the above.

3. Discuss what each plot category means and name examples.

4. Choose one plot category and make a 5 step plan. Read out the name of each step.

5. Write the first step of the story, stop and read aloud. Continue through all the steps. (Resist the temptation to write the whole story in one go).

6. Go over the story and make improvements. Read the whole story out.

An Unusual Arrangement - by Fiona Pimentel

Nabil Al-Hamsi and his family had lived in the West Country (Southwest of England) for ten years. Nabil couldn't remember much about his native Syria, as he had left it at the age of seven. He knew it had been peaceful in those days, and that they had lived with his grandparents in Damascus.

They were lucky that although Exeter was a provincial city, there had been a Mosque there since the seventies, because of the highly respected Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies at the University. Most of the people his family knew were regulars at the Mosque, at least on Fridays or Jummah.

On Saturdays, Nabil worked at Sports Supply in town. This particular morning had been a frantic one. They had a sale on trainers, so parents were busily buying for every family member. Sports enthusiasts were buying several pairs each.

Lucy wanted a tennis racquet. Everyone at her new school played tennis, and she didn't want to be left out. But she had no idea how to select a racquet. She wondered what the letter L on the side of the handle meant. Could all these racquets be left-handed?
"Need any help?" asked a kind voice behind her.
"Yes, can you tell me about these racquets?"
Nabil didn't play tennis, but he told Lucy everything he could remember from his shop training.

"So how often do you play tennis?" enquired Lucy, trying to hide a smile.
"Well, actually I never play," was Nabil's reply, and he felt embarrassed as he realised this must have been obvious to the girl.
"Don't worry, I don't play either, but all my new friends do, so I'm going to try and learn. Would you happen to know any good teachers?"
Nabil gave her the number of his colleague and good friend, John, who also gave tennis lessons in his spare time.

On Wednesday, Nabil's phone rang, and it was John inviting him to come to the tennis lesson with Lucy.
"But I don't know how to play, man."
"Honestly, she's useless, you'd be doing me a favour if you came," insited John, whose Syrian name was Yehyeh.

That's how their weekly tennis lessons were set up. He was just doing his friend a favour, nothing else. After all, John was like a brother to him.
Actually the lessons were quite fun, and under John's instruction, they were soon able to keep up a reasonable rally. Nabil didn't feel embarrassed by his lack of skill, as John had been right, Lucy was really quite uncoordinated.
After lessons, they chatted for a while, and Lucy noticed that although Nabil was friendly, there was always something reserved about him, as if there was something he was holding back.

It was John who first started to make comments to his friend about how Lucy was interested in in him. Nabil doubted she would be interested in a tame Muslim boy like him. He acknowledged that they got on well, and were becoming friends. They were finding more and more things in common, and that was great. "That's all though, Yehyeh," he explained.

The weeks went by and soon it was clear to all three of them that there was more than a flicker between Lucy and Nabil.
"For goodness sake, just ask her out," teased John.
"My parents would kill me," replied Nabil, "you know how strict they are. It's easy for you Christians."
But over the next couple of months, Lucy and Nabil couldn't help themselves. They were young, and couldn't deny they were in love.

Nabil had to think of a way to broach the subject with his parents. But he knew there would be so much trouble if he did. They could easily forbid him from seeing Lucy, and even prevent him from doing any "Western activities," as they called them.
Lucy, on the other hand, was so laid back. She didn't suffer from any of these problems at home. She was under no pressure to bring her boyfriend home, and really didn't understand the conflict Nabil was having. It was almost becoming a source of disharmony between them.

One Friday, coming back from Kutbah (Friday worship), Nabil's Dad casually remarked that there were some nice Muslim girls in their acquaintance. Nabil immediately felt the rush of adrenalin in his body, as he surmised that this was going to be a talk about a proposed arranged marriage.
"Dad, I'm British now... I 'm not ready to get married."
"Who's talking about getting married now, Son? I'm just noticing that Tariq's daughter is pretty, and he is my closest relative here, you know."
"I mean it. I don't want you to tell me who to marry, Dad."
"Relax," said his mother, although he could hear tension in her voice. "Your father knows that you've grown up here, and you'll want to meet the girl a few times first. Lots of young British Muslims do these days."
"What if I've already met a girl?...Lucy...," he blurted out, regretting it immediately.
"Lucy?" yelled his father, "We don't know any Lucy!"
"An English girl?" asked his mother, visibly shocked after her generous efforts to be so reasonable.
The rest of the journey continued in silence. His parents were alarmed, angry and upset, and Nabil thought it best not to disturb them further.
For the next two weeks, there was tension in the house. Nabil heard his parents arguing almost every day, and he kept himself to himself. Ever since they had met, Nabil had told Lucy never to call him at home, but the following Thursday, she called his cellphone.
Nabil was in the shower, and his mother, passing his room, went in and answered the phone for him.
"Oh, um, is Nabil there?" asked a tearful voice.
Nabil's mother explained that he was in the shower.
"Oh..." said the voice, then there were a few seconds of silence, followed by an almost imperceptible sobbing.  
The older woman could not ignore that the younger one was quite distraught, and her maternal instinct took over. Besides, what mother wouldn't want to know her son's business?
"Is that Lucy?' she enquired, "What's wrong?"

"What were you doing in my room? Who were you talking to?"
Ignoring his disrespect, Nabil's mother simply replied, "I spoke to your girl, Lucy. She was very upset."
From then on, Lucy was invited to their home, and the two women tentatively became friends. Even Nabil's Dad gradually got used to the idea, and started telling his friends about his son's "very modern arrangement."

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