Writing story journaling is different from writing journaling for scrapbook pages that address a subject like “Piano playing in my life,” “My Favorite Place,” or “On Vacation in DC.”
Scrapbooking a story means telling about a particular event (which may take place in few minutes or over a longer period of time). In this telling there will be characters (you included) and these characters will be “on-stage” doing and speaking as something of note happens.
the shape of a story
Aristotle said it first, and storytellers have been paying attention ever since A story needs a beginning, a middle, and an end.
beginning: Figuring out where to start your story can often be the toughest challenge. The best beginnings start with something that is:
1) interesting (like an event, or decision, or information) AND
2) crucial to the story as a whole.
I often find the best way to start is to just write the whole piece and then go back and lop off the first few paragraphs which ended up being warm-up practice.
middle: This is the part where you take your audience from the beginning to the end, filling in the details — some crucial, some just entertaining — while sustaining interest and maybe even adding some tension.
end: In the end, a story needs a point. This is where you wrap everything up and, most importantly, this wrapping up should be connected to how your story started.
You can see this structure in “So You Know.” — I’ve inserted “BEGINNING,” “MIDDLE,” and “END” into the journaling in the caption for the layout.
Steps for writing a slice-of-life story
- Use your photos as the story trigger–to remind you of something that happened.
- Use your photos as a trigger for remembering specific details. What did you (and the others in your story) see, smell, hear, taste, feel? Just start writing without overthinking it. You can go back and edit later.
- Include your own voice, thoughts, viewpoint both at the time of the story and/or after. Think about the tone you’d like to set and then decide whether you’re going to use your “concerned-daughter” or “smart-alecky sister” voice. Think: is this a story suited to humor or earnest recounts?
- Make sure the story has a clear beginning, middle, end.
- Use a mix of narrative & scene.
- Finish with insight, meaning, import, or at least a final reflection. What does the story tell about you or your subject?
“Celebrate School’s Out” uses a mix of narrative and scene and ends meaningful conversation and brief commentary on what was said.