So, I have this activity that I do in my writing classes. First, I read a shockingly unknown yet profound piece of literature, created by me: age 7. It goes like this: "Onec upun a time ther lived a duck who did not quach she meoued. She never ever quached never. Just just meoued. She wood alwese be chast by dogs. One day, a dog got her and she was never seen agen. The end."
Gotta love it, eh?
Well, then I pass out second grade paper and I make my class write me a story with their non-dominant hand. (With pictures.) Then we read the stories.
The point I try to make with this exercise is that we all have an intuitive sense of story structure. I mean, look at that masterpiece of mine (Spelling corrected this time!). 1) Situation in place and/or time: "Once upon a time" 2) Introduction of protagonist: "There lived a duck" 3) Conflict: "Who did not quack, she meowed." 4) Escalation of conflict: "She would always be chased by dogs." 5) Resolution of conflict: "One day, a dog got her and she was never seen again." It's about the shortest possible story that includes all of the basic elements of the classic story cycle.
But lately, I've been discussing with some friends the fact that there is something about the "traditional" story structure that is so *male.* And I've been starting to suspect that the archetypal female story looks a whole lot different than: conflict, escalation, resolution.
Well, today I did the exercise in class again. And I noticed something that I might have missed before. The men all wrote brilliant pieces that completely typified the traditional cycle. For example, "Once upon a time in the jungle there lived a lion. He had to stay in the treetops because the monkeys were always harassing him. One day, the monkeys started screeching so loud and harassing him so much that he decided to jump out of the tree and kill them all. No monkeys survived. The End."
But this exercise--designed to pull out the most *instinctual* sense of story from people (cause I just handed them the paper; I didn't say anything about story cycle), brought out something different in the girls. Half of the girls didn't follow the "traditional" structure at all: they wrote the stories of relationships. Like, "Yesterday I went to the pet store and bought a fish and named him Betty. He and I became wonderful friends and we talked and talked about everything. The worst day of his life was when I cleaned out the fish tank. The End."
The other half of the girls *did* follow the traditional story cycle, but their plot resolutions *always* ended with relationships. For example, "There was a sparkly unicorn who lived in a barn. All of the other unicorns made fun of her because she was so sparkly. One day they made fun of her so much that she ran away. But when she ran away, she met a girl named Cindy and now they are best friends!"
So, what do you guys think? Do girls have a different instinctual, archetypal sense of story structure than boys do? And if they do, WTH does it look like?
(I figure that if we can all figure this out, I can write the quintessential "girl" book and make millions! MWHAHAHAHA!!)
Reviewing the Mail: Week of 12/9
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