Story Telling 101, Part I new writers think they have to craft a completely unique story from scratch, but that actually isn’t the case at all.  A lot of really good stories are based on a retelling of stories that already exist.  If you watch the movie Hoodwinked, it’s a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood.  In fact, that’s the very story I’ve decided to use to begin our instruction in Story Telling 101.


The first step is to read Little Red Riding Hood.  It doesn’t matter which version, but I prefer the version laid out by the Brothers Grimm.  After having read the story, break it up into three acts, as if it were a play.   Act I is all the action that takes place before we get to Granny’s house.  Act II encompasses all the action from the point where the wolf arrives at Grandma’s house.  Act III is the point where the wolf is vanquished and both Granny and Red are rescued.


Act I. To Granny’s
Act II. Granny’s House
Act III. Wolf Defeated


Now that we have our three acts separated out, it’s time to decide on the scenes which will take place in our story.  In Act I, we have two scenes that form the basis for all the action that takes place in the 2nd and 3rd act.  The first scene is at Red’s house, where she is given instructions by her mother, equipped with goodies for Granny, and sent on a mission to visit Granny.  Scene 1 has two players: Mother and Red.  The second scene for Act I takes place in the woods.  The wolf greets Red, gathers intelligence, and distracts Red.  Scene 2 also has two players: the Wolf and Red

Our outline for Act I now looks like this:

Act I. To Granny’s
Scene I. Red’s House (Mother and Red)
A. Mother Instructs Red
B. Mother Equips Red
C. Red Leaves for Granny’s
Scene II. In the Woods (Wolf and Red)
A. Wolf Greets Red
B. Wolf Gathers Intelligence
C. Wolf Distracts Red


As you can see, outlining from an existing story is about breaking the story down into smaller bits so that the action sequences become clear.

Act II is where the real action starts. In Act II scene I, the wolf uses the intelligence he gathered in Act I Scene 2 to deceive Granny, eats Granny, and prepares for Red’s arrival. Act II scene I has two players, wolf and Granny. In Act II Scene 2, Red arrives at Granny’s, Red discovers the wolf’s deception, is eaten by the wolf, and the wolf falls asleep. Scene 2 has two players as well, Red and the Wolf.

All seems lost at this point, because both of the ladies have met their untimely demise – or have they?Not so fast! Here is where Scene 3 restores our hopes for a happy ending. In Act II Scene 3 the wolf falls asleep, the huntsman investigates the snoring, and finds the wolf. Scene 3 has two players, The Huntsman and the Wolf. The outline for Act II now looks like this:


Act II. Granny’s House
Scene 1. Granny Devoured (Wolf and Granny)
A. Wolf deceives Granny
B. Wolf eats Granny
C. Wolf prepares for Red’s arrival
Scene 2. Terrible Ending (Wolf and Red)
A. Wolf deceives Red
B. Red discovers deception
C. Wolf eats Red
D. Wolf falls asleep
Scene 3. Hope Restored (Huntsman and Wolf)
A. Huntsman hears snoring
B. Huntsman investigates Granny’s
C. Huntsman finds wolf


The third act is our story resolution, or climax. All of the action that takes place in this act must lead the reader to a satisfactory conclusion. Act III Scene 1 shows the huntsman cutting open the wolf, retrieving Red, and rescuing Granny. Scene 2 shows Red killing the wolf, the huntsman skinning the wolf, and the three of them celebrating. The outline for Act III looks like this:


Act III. Wolf defeated
Scene I. The Rescue (Huntsman, Red, Granny, Wolf)
A.Huntsman cuts open wolf
B. Huntsman Rescues Red
C. Huntsman Rescues Granny
Scene II. Wolf Slain (Huntsman, Red, Granny, Wolf)
A. Red kills Wolf
B. Huntsman skins Wolf
C. All celebrate

I’ve shown you how to create the outline based on the original story, and in part 2 I’ll show you how to begin tweaking it to make it your own.

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