In previous lessons, students learned how fiction writers develop their characters by thinking of their wants and struggles as well as little scenes that show them in the story.
In this lesson, I’m going to teach students that one way to plan a story that they can use whenever they are writing fiction is to use a "story mountain". Fiction writers like to call this plotting or showing how the story gets worse and worse. They show this be using a story mountain where the struggles get worse and worse until they finally reach the top when bam! Something goes happens to change things or solves the problems. After that things are a little different, easier, and that the tough part is over.
In order to show how a story mountain supports the plot of a story, I remind them of an easy and simple read aloud I've read to them this year. I then quickly sketch bullet points showing the conflict, climax and solution.
I indicate that fictional stories always get worse and worse and the character try things and make choices that might help them until finally they reach the top and something happens to solve their problems. Just like the author, we may not have know which details were going to be in our story when we first started but we know that these are the ways stories go.
After students have seen a familiar story outlined on a story mountain timeline, they can try it on their own story.
Before they go off to write, I tell them that writers usually develop the story line out of the character’s motivations and struggles by creating a story mountain showing the character’s wants and problems and how it gets worse and worse until it reaches the top. Then I send them off to get started.