This is the last article I wrote for the WCA.
Once Upon a Time By Barry Mitchell
Write Your Own Stories Part 5
We’re on our way to learning the tools of creative story writers. In parts 1-4 we’ve discussed motivation, ideas, character development, and conflict. Now it’s time for a little resolution.
Conflict resolution is the point in the story where we all give a gasp of relief because the good guy gets the girl, the hero wins the game, or the little old lady is saved from the on coming train. We’re all taught to expect that moment so we can walk out saying everyone lived happily ever after. Of course in the real world life doesn’t work that way. But we’re not talking about the real world. We’re writing stories for children to teach them morals and fun. So let’s resolve a few issues.
One of the best ways to make your story’s conflict resolution even more memorable is to make the story part of a magic trick. It’s a perfect mixture when the magic happens as part of the resolution. The audience experiences both the gasp of relief and the ah of amazement. That’s a good thing.
One of my newest stories is called “You Bug Me.” It’s the story of a spider and silkworm who argue constantly about which bug makes the strongest thread. Both are known for making the strongest threads in the world but both believe their thread is stronger. Did you notice the conflict in the story which is established as the characters are introduced.
Lucy the peace-loving ladybug wants to put a stop to all the arguing so she suggests a contest of thread strength. She proposes that a piece of each bug’s thread is tied together for a tug-of-war. Whichever thread does not break will be the winner. Both bugs agree. At this point in the story I introduce a piece of yellow rope and a piece of red, both about 3 feet long. The two are tied together and placed inside a change bag made to look like a ladybug. In the story it is Lucy’s purse. The change bag is used to switch to two tied together short ropes for a single 12 foot long rope of both colors with an added climax in the middle.
Continuing with the story, Lucy gives each bug one end of the thread and secures the middle inside her purse. I have two children play the parts of the bugs and give them a little dialogue to make the story more interesting and build more conflict. When Lucy calls go the bugs begin to slowly pull and the threads do not break, they stretch. The rope stretches across the stage over 12 feet. I don’t use actual rope, I use knitted rope which is specially made for the trick. It stretches longer and as lasts longer than rope.
Since the threads don’t break Lucy decides to put an end to the conflict by cutting the threads in half. In telling the story I mention that she cuts the rope but I don’t actually do this. I explain that when the bugs came back to where Lucy was standing they were both bragging about being the winner. Lucy said, “Stop, neither of you won and neither lost. The spider thread is stronger than steel and more flexible than rubber. It’s also very sticky and perfect to catch a fly. The silkworm thread is the strongest thread used by man and makes beautiful fabrics. So I cut the threads and then glued them back together using the stickiness of the spider thread and the beauty of the silkworm thread. I then sewed up a little magic of my own. I now declare your contest to be a TIE.” At this point the change bag is dropped to the stage and hanging in the middle of the red and yellow rope is a cloth tie with the print of a spider web. Yes, the magic climax happens as the story is resolved which makes for great story memories for the kids.
After the audience has sufficient time for the ah factor I follow up with the moral. Lucy said, “There’s no argument about it, true strength comes from the inside and when we work together as a team we form a bond that can’t be broken.”
I trust this little story gives you an idea of conflict resolution and magic all in one. Next time we’ll discuss the last characteristic of story writing which is the moral. If you ever have questions or thoughts feel free to email me at BarryMitchell@aol.com. Stay tuned until our next once upon a time.