Part 3, Project 1 – Exercise: Recognising plot types

Find examples of each plot type:

  • The Quest: “Skulduggery Pleasant”, “Artemis Fowl”
  • Voyage & Return: “The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe”
  • Transformation / rebirth: haven’t read one of these plot types yet
  • The Outsider: “Blood Ties”, “Ivan the Terrible”
  • Rags to Riches: “The Little Princess”
  • Romance: haven’t read one of these plot types yet
  • Overcoming the Monster: “Dinosaur Pox” (Jodie overcomes her own daemons

The books that I have read to date that don’t seem to fit the above plot types and which would suit “friendship” more:

“Ivan the Terrible” – Anne Fine
“A Mouse called Wolf” – Dick King-Smith

Invent your own characters, identify the plot type and write a short synopsis of the plot of a story:

Barrie – a young child, no friends
Rascal – a runaway dog, homeless, terrified of people
Plot type – friendship, quest

“Barrie is a loner, a kid down on his luck who has no friends.  Rascal is a border collie who runs away from a cruel owner.  Can this unlikely pair become friends and learn to trust again?”


Part 3, Project 1 – Exercise: What writers say

Jeremy Strong
He daydreams his stories and makes his characters do anything possible.  He recommends writing all important thoughts and ideas down.

He sorts his stories into sections and reads his writing out loud.

He also recommends getting rid of any parts that “are boring”.

Anne Fine
She gains a lot of valuable knowledge from experiencing other families, watching how they interact and live.

She tends to “put people in cupboards”; she confines her characters to somewhere safe so that she can keep a good grasp of what they feel and think.

She writes for herself;  if she enjoys reading something that she has written she knows that it will do well.


Part 3, Project 1 – Exercise: Looking at structure

“The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe” – C.S.Lewis
1) How do the events that make up the plots unfold?
Juxtaposition. Good versus bad, Lucy versus Edmund, White Witch versus Aslan. This all culminates in a collective viewpoint at the battle.

2) Which different structural techniques has the author used?
Alternating viewpoints, a journey.

3) Why do you think they chose to use these particular techniques rather than others?
To create tension, excitement and highlight the progressive nature of the adventure.

4) How does the structure help your appreciation of the story?
I loved the pace of the story which was undoubtedly helped by its structure. It also helped me view the good vs bad element which I love.

5) Why do you think the author has chosen to tell the story in this way?
Children like baddies and to highlight against the good protagonists helps the evil characteristics stand out.

“Blood Ties” – Sophie McKenzie
1) How do the events that make up the plots unfold?
One character suspects his family, gets another girl involved, between them they get embroiled in dangerous mission to uncover a truth; two single juxtaposed lives that then join forces.

2) Which different structural techniques has the author used?
Alternating viewpoint; every chapter switches between Rachel and Theo.

3) Why do you think they chose to use these particular techniques rather than others?
Both lives were connected but at the start they didn’t know it. We need to see the individual characters to determine and deduce the connections for ourselves. This makes characterisation stronger and easier to keep track of when more than one protagonist.

4) How does the structure help your appreciation of the story?
It makes it very clear that there are two protagonists that are going to be linked and through no fault of their own. You as the reader get to understand each viewpoint, each character during every chapter.

5) Why do you think the author has chosen to tell the story in this way?
For clarity, drama, excitement, immediacy, pace.


Part 3, Project 1 – Questions around structure…

1) How closely does structure relate to the perspective that the story is told from?
I think this is very closely related. It changes with differing perspectives and is to an extent dictated by who’s telling the story.

2) Are there different emphases depending on who is telling the story?
Yes absolutely. Characters will always have their own vested interest in the plot from their viewpoint. The Fairy Godmother has Cinderella’s interest at heart; the stepmother wants her daughters to go to the ball and marry the Prince; Cinderella feels unworthy of being able to go and feels resigned to a life of slavery.

3) How important to the story is the order in which the events are narrated?
Very important. You can’t have a big conclusion or outcome revealed before anything else. Everything should hinge around a sequence that progresses to the final outcome. Beginning – middle – end.


Part 3, Project 1 – Exercise: Retelling Cinderella

This was one some of the most fun I have had so far on this course. Enjoy!

Cinderella – The Alternative Versions
The Fairy Godmother’s Perspective

It’s so sad to watch. Cinderella is such a sweet girl and she’s being treated like a doormat, actually. I wish she’d stand up for herself a little more but she won’t. She’s too sweet.

Her kind-nature and willingness to be their slave is both admirable and stupid. Those ugly sisters, and I mean ugly, boss her around continually and I hope that one day she is able to put them in their place.

Of course, it all kicked off the other day. The royal palace sent them an invitation to a grand ball. It was from the Prince, who happens to be completely gorgeous, completely eligible, and now in the market for a wife. Honestly….if I wasn’t a fairy I would have him for breakfast.

The two girls immediately started preening, prancing and making idiots of themselves as they tried squeezing themselves into all manner of dresses.

And yes, readers, Fairy Godmothers can be a bitch.

When I looked in on Cinderella downstairs, she was noticeably quiet and seemed to keep her head down. I did hear her say out loud how much she wished she could go to the ball, too, but along with this was a load of self-deprecating nonsense that had to be heard to be believed. She’s ugly, she’s fat, she doesn’t think she’s worthy. Please.

Well, to be honest, I’d had enough of it, watching this girl talk herself down. So I popped in on her the day of the ball, just shortly after she’d spent ages getting the girls ready. Cinders was on her own in the kitchen peeling potatoes. She was properly fed up. When I materialised near the larder she almost fainted.

After the initial introductions were over, I sat her down and explained that if she really wanted to get to the ball, she’d need to shape up and help me out a bit first.

She was understandably a bit sceptical at first but soon realised that the longer she mucked me about, the less likely it was that she would make it, and let’s face it, the poor thing doesn’t get out much so she needed to grasp the nettle.

I sent her off round the garden first to find a pumpkin. This was fairly crucial because I do a great line in transport and this would do for a carriage. If I screwed my eyes shut really tight when I cast the spell, I have been known to get one in glass, but I didn’t tell her this. Didn’t want to get her hopes up.

I also told her she’d need six mice; they double up as horses. They’re always up for it and do as they’re told, bless them. Luckily, there are quite a few humane traps set up around the house and I counted at least 7 when I whizzed round earlier.

Mice do need to be kept in order, though, and I told Cinderella that she ought to grab a rat from the cellars. That’s a good coachman stand-in, you see.
And if we’re going to have staff involved, we may as well go the whole hog and have some footmen. It always makes an impression and doesn’t take a lot more effort.

“Grab six lizards whilst you’re in the cellar!” I shouted after her. They will do nicely.

It took her a while to get all of this together, and the pumpkin wasn’t as big as I’d have liked, but eventually, everything was grouped outside the house. I waved my wand, said the spell with eyes screwed shut, and the job was done. I did warn her that she only had until midnight, though. I’m getting on a bit now and the magic doesn’t quite have the same staying power.

She was really impressed and very excited at the carriage, which did turn out to be a glass one despite my initial concerns over pumpkin size. She then panicked. She looked at her clothes and shrugged.

“I’m not going anywhere in these rags, no matter how beautiful my transport looks”. How impatient.

“Just wait a cotton picking minute, girl. I’m getting round to that.” Sometimes that girl could forget herself.

And before she knew it, I gently touched my wand on her shoulder and transformed her from top to toe. I think even Gok would have been impressed. A complete make over, including hair and makeup. Even the frock was designer, with matching glass slippers.

“Now get going, girlfriend, but make sure you get back before midnight or it’s all going to look horribly amateurish and the Prince won’t look twice.”

I pushed her up the steps of the carriage, slapped the rear of one of the horses and off she went. I went back into the kitchen and lit a cigarette. I was exhausted.

Time ticked by and I finished off the potatoes. I kept an eye on the clock on the mantelpiece in the kitchen. It got to 11.45pm and I began to get twitchy. It’s such a shame the magic doesn’t last for longer, but you can’t have everything.

11.59pm appeared on the clock and no Cinderella. The dirty stop-out. Well, she knew the risks. If she wanted to make a fool out of herself she was going about it the right way.
It wasn’t until 00.10am that she appeared at the kitchen door having run all the way home. She was back in her rags, her hair was dishevelled and she was out of breath. I think one of the mice charged in shortly after she did.

“I left too late…the magic….it wore off….but I think I left one of the glass slippers on the stairs in the rush…”

I smiled.

“But did you have a great time?” I asked.

Cinders slumped down in a chair and the broadest of grins spread across her face.

“Oh, it was amazing. The Prince asked me to dance. And he didn’t let me go all evening. He was gorgeous….”

She was completely smitten. I clicked my fingers at her.

“Okay, Cinders, back in the room. You need to get yourself off to bed quickly before your sisters stagger home.” And off she drifted, cloud nine the whole way.

Over the following days, I witnessed my little princess revert back to her normal subservient ways. The three sisters spent their whole time bitching about a stranger who turned up to the ball and who whisked the Prince off his feet.

A proclamation was soon made by the Prince announcing that whoever owned and more importantly fitted a glass slipper found at the palace after the ball, he would marry. You can only begin to imagine the hysterics that ensued.

As the heralds from the palace popped round with the shoe, the two sisters were clammering to try the slipper out, but of course no amount of forcing, stretching or cajoling was going to make their fat feet fit. And then, of course, Cinders wanted to try it out. Scandal alert.

The sisters couldn’t understand why she of all people would want to, given that she hadn’t gone to the ball. Well. That’s what they know, isn’t it?!
Eventually, they let her near the slipper and of course her little foot slipped straight into it, didn’t it? No surprise there.

The accompanying heralds played a triumphant anthem on their trumpets and the Prince came to the house on his horse. They could have phoned him on his mobile but I suppose protocol required something a bit more showy.

He took her in his arms, kissed her for a slightly embarrassing length of time before whisking her away, leaving the two sisters flabbergast.

Cinderella did send me an email a few weeks later following the wedding saying what an amazing time they’d had on honeymoon and how grateful she was for getting her to the ball. She’s recommended I set up an online dating agency called “Pumpkin Partners”. I’m not so sure. But she’s a good kid.

The Prince’s Perspective
It’s hard being a Prince. I know you won’t believe me when I say this but it really is. You can’t just nip down to the pub for a quick pint or go grocery shopping without a great big fuss being made.

And getting to meet the right kind of woman is a bit of a nightmare. I had hoped that when I was studying at University I was going to meet someone lovely, but it didn’t pan out. They were all money-grabbing attention-freaks and I really want someone quiet, loving and above all non-assuming.

I’m not getting any younger and my mother and father won’t be around for much longer, so…if I can’t go to the women, I’m going to have to invite them to come to me.

I’m going to throw a grand ball. A big orchestra, posh snacks, beautiful flowers, the works. I’ll write to every house in the area and hope that a few nice people turn up. You’ll only win it if you’re in it…

Right. It’s the day of the ball. I’m feeling a bit nervous to be truthful. I’ve been round and checked everything out. The ballroom looks stunning I have to say. My butler has done us proud. The orchestra arrives in a bit; they’re going to play all the favourite tunes, waltzes, etc. Hope I don’t tread on anyone’s feet. Just need to get my suit from the dry cleaners….

The evening is now here. I look sharp, snappy, up for it. Mother and Father have gone away for the weekend and left me to it so anything can go, really. It probably won’t because I have to keep up my royal image, but it would be super to meet someone. I have butterflies in my stomach as the first few guests are ushered into the ballroom. Noone has caught my eye yet. And there are two particularly unfortunate looking women just arrived who just stare at me. Very odd. And they point, also, which I cannot abide.

It’s been an hour or so now and whilst I’m having a lovely time, and lots of people have turned up, I still haven’t met anyone special yet. The evening is yet young, though. Time for another drink….

I nearly drop my champagne flute. The most beautiful creature has just entered the ballroom. Dressed in the palest blue silk dress, she has the prettiest face and has little flowers in her hair. I must ask her to dance….

Wow….that was the most amazing evening of my life. I have never danced so much with one person before. She literally took my breath away. I didn’t ask her name, where she lived, we barely talked….we just gazed into each others’ eyes and danced.
One of the footmen has just found a glass slipper on the stairs at the front…I know that she was wearing them and I just have to find her. I want to marry her. Yes, it’s sudden, yes I have no idea who she is…but I can’t bear to be a second without her.

I will get a proclamation sent out…let’s find this woman…quick!

Well, I’ve sent the slipper round and already its been a week…and nothing. Nobody seems to fit it. I’m really scared I will never find her.

But no – they’ve found her! I must get myself to the house on the hill….

I have arrived to be greeted by those unfortunate women who kept pointing at me. Please…..it cannot be one of them…?! I notice in the corner of the room a petite lady with a very sweet smile…a smile I recognise… and there, her foot fits the slipper. It is her!

Sound the trumpets, boys! We’ve found her. I’m so thrilled. She’s agreed to be my wife. Better get down to the jewellers, or get one of them in, as I need to get a ring on her finger.

The Step-Mother’s Perspective
I do worry about Cinderella sometimes but really, this is where she has to live, and she must fit in. If that means waiting on us hand and foot, then that’s what she’s going to have to do.

My two girls are such lovely ladies. I’m so proud of them. They might sound a bit common, a bit brash, but that’s what I call personality. They’re sure of themselves, really know what they’re about. Strong women run in our family. That’s why Cinderella doesn’t really fit in. She’s not from my womb and not a blood relative, and she couldn’t be more different.

The girls were so excited when the palace invite came through the door. And of course, I had to treat them each to a new dress. They deserve it. Yes, they’re a little too old to be living at home still but I couldn’t bear them leaving me. What would I do? Be left with Cinderella? No thank you.

No, Cinderella is a welcome help round the place. I’ve not had to lift a finger since she moved in. Why should I? She’s got to earn her keep and if that means doing all the housework then so be it.

I would so love for the Prince to fall for one of my girls. It would move our family up the social ladder beautifully. I can just see myself popping round to the palace for an audience with my daughter the Queen and her husband. I’d need a whole new wardrobe, though…perhaps I should get Cinderella to start work on it?

What a shame…the girls sounded so disappointed after the ball. Apparently, a strange woman turned up and completely stole the Prince for the entire evening. No-one else got a look-in.

Well. If that’s how he’s going to behave, turn his back on all the other women there, then maybe my girls are better off without him. I mean, who wants all the hassle that comes with being a Royal, eh? They’re far too good for him anyway.

And he fell for a careless waif no doubt. Apparently dropped her shoe on the stairs as she left and the Prince has convinced himself that the person wearing it will one day be his wife… there’s a proclamation announcing it. They’re coming round to every house to find the right person…

I’ve never seen such behaviour. The girls are scrapping like never before and it got worse this morning; the slipper arrived at the house complete with heralds carrying trumpets. All a bit much if you ask me. The shoe was being carried on a little red velvet cushion. Really?!

I secretly really wanted one of their feet to fit into that shoe but it seems no matter how much they tried, they just couldn’t get it on. They’re blessed with such beautiful feet, a little big and bony perhaps, but beautiful nonetheless. I’m so surprised…

But shock horror; Cinderella had the audacity to ask to try it on. Can you believe her?! She’s a servant girl. She should know her place. And besides, she didn’t even go to the ball, so what on earth was she thinking?

It fitted her. I can’t believe it. The glass slipper left on the stairs at the palace fitted Cinderella. Well, I always knew she was a dark character, deceiving and devious. I should never have taken her in. I should never have trusted her with my girls. Good riddance. The Prince is welcome to her.

The Pumpkin’s Perspective
I’ve never been interviewed for anything before so this is all really new to me, sorry. I’m just a pumpkin that’s been growing in a vegetable patch for months. I thought that I would just get picked and chopped to pieces at Halloween but it wasn’t to be. I was destined for far greater things.

I was minding my own business, being a pumpkin, when I noticed Cinderella running towards our vegetable patch. She seemed really excited about something. She came straight for me, grabbed me and snapped my stem, effectively stopping me from growing any more. It didn’t hurt.

She carried me to the front of the house and left me there. She then disappeared off returning shortly afterwards with 6 mice, a rat and some lizards. All very random. I’d heard rumours about her being a little odd, but this was all just weird. The mice and rat were all very friendly, all a little bemused like me as to what was going on. The lizards were a bit stand-offish but they’re cold-blooded so what do you expect?

The next I know is Cinderella’s standing with an older woman who is standing with a little stick in her hands. She waves it over our heads and bang; I’m suddenly a glass carriage.

Now, I know what you’re thinking; that should have hurt. Well, yes it did a little. My girth as a pumpkin was a little broad and I certainly could have been bigger, but as a coach? I became huge. And made of glass, too. The setting sun was hot on my sides and to be honest, I felt really self-conscious.

At the front of me were six grey horses, which I understand were the mice. The rat suddenly became a coachman and was sitting on top of me, reins in his hands ready to steer the mice. I mean horses. Sorry. Still a bit nervous.

Cinderella then climbed aboard, and with footmen following behind, we then took off for the palace. I’ve never moved before. I’ve been used to just sitting. I wobbled and rolled along on four huge wheels and I could feel Cinderella inside moving around slightly. It was all extremely surreal.

We eventually pulled up outside the palace steps and everyone stopped to watch Cinderella get out. I felt myself blush but no-one saw which was good. We then went round to the back of the palace to wait for her. We were there some time when all of a sudden, I fell to the ground; the wheels disappeared from under me. I had a rat sat on my head and there was a blur of mice and lizards running everywhere. Whatever spell that woman had put on us suddenly went. I was a pumpkin again. Thank god for that.

It feel so much better being a vegetable once more. Problem is, I’m kind of stuck where I am, which is at the back of the royal palace in some kind of courtyard. I wonder if anyone will notice me and do something? Put me in another vegetable patch…put me in a soup? Who knows? But that was certainly an adventure.