Photo by Ostrosky Photos shared under a CC (BY-NC-ND) license

Shape of a Story

#WalkMYWORLD (1)

This Learning Event’s Summary is sharable:

#WalkMyWorld #LE3 – Shape of a Story. Identify & diagram the shape of a story meaningful to you. Discuss how/why this resonates (‘∀’●)♡

Welcome to Learning Event #3 (#LE3) for #WalkMyWorld 2016.

We started with…where I begin? Last week we continued with where I’ve been. Now we continue this discussion about the story of you by considering the shape of a story.

This event was remixed from Unit One of the YouShow, an open classroom created and curated by Brian Lamb and Alan Levine.

Take into consideration

The universe is made of stories, not of atoms. – Muriel Rukeyser

Stories are generally considered to be a narrative of connecting events (either actual or imaginary) presented in a sequence of written or spoken words…in still or moving images.

Kurt Vonnegut believed that there is only one basic shape to a story, all else is a variation. Vonnegut posits that stories move from beginning to entropy, and contain movement between good and ill fortune.

These variations in story and structure can be recognized in universal, or culture-specific narratives. Read the lyrics from Chinese Translation by M. Ward. The song is an allusion to the fables in which a character seeks advice from an oracle. You can also review the music video of this story.

It has been suggested that there is a “deep structure” in the song that connects to themes and cultures outside of time and place.If you were to diagram the shape of Chinese Translation, what would it look like?

Your response

Think of a story you know well. This could be a cultural folk tale, a novel, a song, a TV show. Pick something meaningful to you.

Create a diagram showing the shape of that story. Annotate your diagram to identify plot points at key events in the narrative. You can create this diagram using digital or graphics software…or simply sketch it out on paper and take a digital photo.

Write a blog post that shares your selected story, and the diagram you created. Describe how your diagram and the modes (text, image, audio, video) used in the story affect the shape of the story.

Tweet out a link to this post to #WalkMyWorld and your online spaces. Please include #LE3 to indicate the learning event. You may also include a hashtag to recognize your own learning network.

A guiding example

As you select the story that you would like to diagram, take a look at the connections made below to the story, Joseph Had a Little Overcoat. The recycling logo has been used to discuss this text in classrooms speaking EnglishKorean, and beyond. In the video, some students discuss how they envision the recycling logo being used as a shape to discuss the structure of the story.


CC BY-SA 4.0 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.