When people tell a story, whether orally or in a movie, there are certain characteristics that seem to appears in stories as determined by culture which children attempt to imitate when they tell a story. These traits are called story grammar components and include the following
- Setting statement
- Initiating event
- Internal response
- Internal plan
- Direct Consequence
This post will explore each of these characteristics of a story.
The setting statement introduces the character of the story and often identifies who the “good guy” and “bad guy” are. Many movies do this from Transformers to any X-men movie. In the first 10-15 minutes, the characters are introduced and the background is explained. For example, in the classic story “The Three Little Pig” the story begins by telling you there was a wolf and three pigs.
The initiating event is the catalyst to get the characters to do something. For example, in the “Three Little Pigs” the pigs need shelter. In other words, the initiating event introduces the problem that the characters need to overcome during the story.
The internal response is the characters reaction to the initiating event. The response can talk many forms such as emotional. For example, the pigs get excited when they see they need shelter. Generally, the internal response provides motivation to do something.
The internal plan is what the characters will do to overcome the initiating event problem. For the pigs, the plan was to each build a house to prepare for the wolf.
The attempt is the action that helps the characters to reach their goal. This is the step in which the internal plan is put into action. Therefore, for the pigs, it is the actual construction of their houses.
At this step, the story indicates if the attempt was successful or not. For the pigs, this is where things are complicated. Of the three pigs, two were unsuccessful and only one was successful. Success is determined by who is the protagonist and the antagonist. As such, if the wolf is the protagonist the success would be two and the failure one.
The reaction is the character’s response to the direct consequence. For the two unsuccessful pigs, there was no reaction because they were eaten by the wolf. However, for the last pig, he was able to live safely after his home protected him.
Even small children will have several of these components in their storytelling. However, it is important to remember that the components are not required in a story nor do they have to follow the order specified here. Instead, this is a broad generalize way of how people communicate through storytelling.