As a long-due follow up to my previous post about expansionist storytelling, I have good news: the process of guiding students through distilling their own mess of ideas into a single, simple, coherent story is quite possible. In fact, several classes at W.P. Elementary and I stumbled upon a method for doing so that is downright simple. I call it story sifting.
Though it is by no means a fool-proof method for paring down runaway ideas into a workable plot, story sifting has resulted in an interesting, simple story in every classroom I have applied it yet. Each class has worked with a slightly different story type (and therefore used a customized worksheet), but the fundamentals are the same across the board:
- Compile a list of all characters
- Assign a limited number of characters to a specific role in the story (Example: One Hero, One Victim, One Villain).
- The leftover characters take on supporting roles.
- Compile a list of all plot ideas
- Pare it down to the top several most important plot points
- Combine plot points with chosen characters, and mix to produce your beginning, middle, and end.
Here is an example of the story that was created through sifting in one 5th grade class: