Simple Narrative Arcs, 2

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Narrative Arc in Less Than 100 Words: Example 2

Very simple picture books still have a narrative arc, even though the word count is extremely small. Yesterday, we looked at an example of a great simple narrative in My Friend, Rabbit. Today, here’s a look at a narrative arc in 80 words (with the help of some illustrations), as it appears in A Splendid Friend, Indeed by Suzanne Bloom. This book was named a Theodor Seuss Geisel Beginning Reader Award Honor Book in 2006.

Narrative Arc in 32 pages, 98 words

Here’s a great example of a narrative arc in only 98 words.
splendidp. 1 Title
2-3 copyright/dedication
4-5 Characters established: Polar Bear and Goose
6-7 1st repetition: Goose wants to be part of what Bear is doing: he is attempting to be a friend.
8-9 Bear says he likes to read.
10-11 Goose attempts friendship by taking over the book.
12-13 2nd repetition: Goose wants to be part of what Bear is doing.
14-15 Bear says he likes to write.
16-17 Goose friendship by saying he likes writing, too.
18-19 3rd repetition: Goose wants to be part of what Bear is doing.
20-21 Goose decides to take it’s own action – get a snack
22-23 Goose brings back a snack
24-25 Goose has a note for Bear
26-27 Goose’s note says Bear is “my splendid friend.”
28-29 Touched, Bear says I like you, too.
30-31 Bear & Goose hug: they are splendid friends.
32 Friends share a snack

Narrative Arc analyzed

98 words
P. 1-3 Front matter
4-5 Characters established
6-11 1st attempt at friendship – tries to take over
12-17 2nd attempt at friendship – tries to fit in
18-19 3rd attempt at friendship – failure
20-27 Goose attempts friendship by offering something, instead of trying to fit in
28-32 Goose & Bear are friends.

Narrative Arc Written as a Synopsis

This is the story about Goose, who wants to be friends with Bear. Goose tries to be friends by taking over Bear’s book, by trying to write like bear and by trying to figure out what Bear is thinking. Finally, Goose decides to BE a friend. He gets a snack, comes back, and shares a letter of friendship. Bear and Goose, now friends, eat a snack together.

A complete story in less than 100 words is hard. In yesterday’s example of a great simple narrative, My Friend, Rabbit, there were lots of wordless pages, where the images carried the story. Here, there are fewer wordless pages, but still some. In both cases, though, the characters are established, the problem presented, three attempts at resolving the problem, before the climax. These are nice examples of how to do it and do it well.

2 Comments
  • sruble
    November 24, 2009

    Another great post on PB narrative arc. Thanks Darcy! BTW, I love the two examples you chose. Both are really great books, both art and text.

  • Rita
    January 19, 2010

    Fabulous website!…
    Your narrative arcs are enlightening. You do a great job sharing your knowledge on the subject. Thanks for the step by step analysis and the synopsis as well!