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A story is a continuum of scenes. A continuum? Something that extends continuously. (OAD) A story flows like a river from beginning to resolution but may be structured non-chronologically.

A storyteller around a campfire held his audience captive from his first words: “Once upon a time . . . ” From that moment of capturing his listeners’ imaginations, his words created characters engaged in actions and deeds, sometimes dangerous, but always exciting. The images he induced created scenes in their minds. This was an art. The villagers couldn’t produce these scenes, these stories themselves. Then, as now, storytellers were unique and gifted people.

So, that was how this particular story started. “Once upon a time, a hungry hunter named Olaaf was walking through the jungle.” That was the INTRODUCTION.

From this first sentence, we are hooked into a scene. We want to see and hear what this hungry hunter does. These ancient people knew that if a person was hungry long enough, he or she died. The stakes are set at once. He must find, catch and kill to appease his hunger and forestall death. Now we’re ready for the SETUP.

“In the distance, Olaaf heard a great roar, several roars. It sounded like two huge lions fighting. He leaped for the underbrush to hide himself. Cowering underneath a dense thicket, he realized they might be fighting over a kill. He must see if he can grab some of the meat.” These are the storytellers’ words.

That’s the end of the first sequence–the introduction and setup: 1. Olaaf is walking along. 2. He hears the roar of two lions doing battle. 3. He leaps off the path and hides himself. 4. The storyteller makes us see him in his quandary. 5. He has decided to go for it.

Now we have the crisis scene, the confluent scene. 6. Olaaf creeps toward the fighting lions. The sound and fury of the snarling beasts terrify him. We imagine–in our minds we see–him cringing. 7. He hides again. 8. Sticks his head around a tree to search for the bloody prize. 9. Spies a dead antelope that has been thrown aside. 10. Gathers his courage and sneaks past the raging lions. 11. Slings the life-giving trophy across his back and makes off. 12. Change of location – transition: “Back at the village . . . ” Note that this gives us the resolution scene: Feasting at home with the clan. The meat or food is the elixir brought home by Olaaf. This mythic story has been told by a series of scenes, as are all stories.

We remember stories, books and movies by recalling certain scenes. What’s the most memorable scene in this little story?
For me, it’s when Olaaf, driven by hunger, whips up his courage and risks death by snatching the lions’ prize from under their noses.
Longer stories, novels, have many catalysts and many lesser crisis or core scenes. Finally they converge and the biggest, most important scene, the confluent scene, is played and the hero wins. Heroes usually win–especially in entertainment fiction. #

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