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Concourse 2

How to write a story

red riding hood

Writing a story is a good way to practise writing in English because when you write a story you must:

  1. use verbs to say what happened in the past tense
  2. say where and when something happens
  3. use verbs to say how people feel
  4. say how you feel about the story
test Task 1: Click here to try a very simple test.


There are four parts to every story

Yes, every story.
When we read a story or listen to a story, we want to know what happened but we also want to know where and when the story happened, what people did, how they felt and what happened in the end.
Here are the four parts:

Part of the story Examples
Who, where and when?
snow The happened on a very cold day last winter.  I was taking the dogs for a walk in the woods when ...
polar bear Suddenly, I saw a large white animal coming towards me.  I was surprised and very scared.  "We don't get polar bears in my country!" I thought.
how the problem was solved
dogs Both my dogs started barking very loudly and the bear was afraid so it turned and ran away. 
how do you feel now?
look carefully You must always look around carefully before you go out in the snow.  You never know what may be there!

test Task 2: Click here to try another very simple test.
Can you match the sentences to the right part of the story?


Writing each part of the story

Now we can look at how you make each part of the story.


Part 1:
Orientation: who, where, when

Remember, in this part, we need three pieces of information.
This sentence contains all three.

Last week, I was staying with my friends in London and we decided to go to a restaurant.

  1. We know who the story is about: I and my friends
  2. We know when the story happened: last week
  3. We know where the story happened: in London (in a restaurant, perhaps?)

What do you notice about the tenses of the verbs?  Click here when you see it.


Part 2:
Complication: the problem

We need to know two things: when the problem happened and what the problem was.
For example:

When we arrived at the restaurant, there was a police woman standing outside.  She said, "You can't go in tonight.  Sorry.  Come back tomorrow.  We were really surprised and a little shocked."

Here we know three things:

  1. We know when this happened (when we arrived at the restaurant)
  2. We know what happened (she said you can't go in)
  3. We know how you felt (surprised and a little shocked)

It is important to tell the reader all three. 


Part 3:
Resolution: how was the problem solved

Here, you need to say what happened next and say how the story finished.
For example:

Well, we didn't argue with the police woman of course.  She didn't look like a woman I wanted to argue with!
So, then we went to the take-away pizza place near my friends' house and ate pizza in front of the television, watching an old gangster movie.
The next morning, we read in the newspaper that someone had telephoned to say that he had put a bomb in the restaurant and the police had closed it.  They didn't find anything, of course.


Part 4:
Coda: how do you feel now?

Here's an example:

Well, I'm sorry we didn't get our meal but I enjoyed the pizza and the movie and we had a lot of fun.  I'll try to book a table in a restaurant without a bomb next time!

The end!

Now you can go on to write your own stories but remember:

  1. Put the four parts in the right order:
    1. Orientation
    2. Complication
    3. Resolution
    4. Coda
  2. Use the progressive tense for the background to the story and use the simple tense for the events.
  3. Tell the reader when the problem happened and what it was but also say how the people felt.
  4. Give a personal opinion at the end.

Enjoy your writing.