Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The Story Situation

The Story Situation (Opening Story Situation) is the event or circumstances that start a story. In dramatic fiction, the situation usually brings about some self-concept threatening change for the main character.

Examples of story situations:
  • A woman marries a man who was in love with her dead sister.
  • A woman marries a wealthy man and becomes the stepmother of a girl nearly her own age.
  • An old Gulf-Stream lone fisherman has gone 84 days without a catch. (Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea)
  • A happy fifty-three-year-old woman discovers that she has turned into the wrong person. (Anne Tyler's Back When We Were Grownups)
  • A government operative retires to an island in the Bermuda Triangle, when local fishermen begin to fall prey to a monstrous sea creature they dub "the eater." (Mickey Spillane's Something's Down There)
  • As the Allies turn the tide of World War II, Hitler orders the killing or capture of Winston Churchill, and a disgraced war hero must lead the team of commandos that will carry out the mission. (Jack Higgins' The Eagle Has Landed)
  • A king's brother seduces the Queen, assassinates him, and snatches the crown from the prince by marrying the Queen. The prince must do justice without seeming to be just grasping at the throne, and he must do it among a court all currying the usurper's favor. (Shakespeare's Hamlet)
You often find the story situation of a novel stated on it's back cover.

Sometimes you can develop one situation into totally different novels.