Home > Strategies and Skill Development > Social Reasoning Strategy Families > Storytelling

Storytelling strategies are strategies for organizing and communicating one's understanding of social situations, social interactions, and causal chains of events. A variety of literary techniques are concerned with managing this process and making it vivid and effective, but the core ability is the shared human capacity to make sense of one’s social world by creating stories that build a coherent picture of events. An understanding of strategies for telling and stories more effectively, and the mastery of metacognitive representations of stories, as in literary analysis, supports a richer, more nuanced understanding not only of literature but of the kinds of social situations represented in literary texts. This type of strategy and the underlying class of skills connected to it support Writing Standard 3 from the Common Core State Standards. The hypothesized development of these skills is presented in Development Table 3.

Literature Note - Storytelling and Situation Models

Literature Note - Storytelling - The Development of Narrative Skills

Development Table 3. Hypotheses about Development of Storytelling Skills
Can interpret a sequence of sentences as expressing a sequence of events.
Can apply memory and recall strategies that mentally simulate or list sequences of events, and therefore predict what will come next in a text purely in terms of temporal sequence.
Can formulate a simple story that presents at least one character and a sequence of events involving that character.
(fundamental literacies)
Can interpret a text by making default assumptions about motivation and action in ordinary social situations.
Can apply inference strategies that assume standard, prototypical motives for actions, and therefore predict stereotyped sequences of events in a text that follow standard social scripts.
Can write a narrative in which characters interact in socially plausible ways, with a clear beginning, middle, and end.
(text-based literacy)
Can interpret a text by building a mental model of each character, specifying that individual’s knowledge, motivations, personality, and character, and considering how the characters interact and develop over the course of the story as the plot moves toward resolution.
Can apply predictive strategies that anticipate what will come next in a text by foretelling a character’s future actions on the basis of that character’s motivations and the situation in which the character is placed.
Can apply analytical strategies that examine how the formal features of a work affect its meaning and impact.
Can write a complex narrative with well-defined plot, setting, characters, and theme.
(multiple perspectives)
Can interpret a text by considering the author’s use of literary devices and strategies (such as foreshadowing, symbolism).
Can consider alternate interpretations that privilege or emphasize particular elements of the text.
Can apply analytical strategies that examine how the author’s choices (at the level of both content and style) produce literary effects.
Can write sophisticated narratives where the author’s and the narrator’s perspectives do not necessarily coincide and it makes sense to analyze how the author has manipulated the storytelling to produce specific intended effects.
(discourse communities)
Can interpret a text by considering how a literary community will respond to that text’s use of genre conventions and other literary elements that are current in a specific literary community.
Where appropriate, can interpret a text in the light of different communities that have an interest in the work.
Can apply analytical strategies that determine how the author’s choices within the moves specified by a particular style, genre, or mode produce predictable literary effects.
Can apply analytical strategies that consider how similar themes or ideas have been treated by different artists in the same communities, in different communities, or in different media.
Can write narratives that take advantage of the interpretive machinery and conventions that derive from particular styles, genres, and modes of writing and manipulate that machinery for literary effect.

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