How to Structure a Story
‘Alima and the Dragon’ is a five part, hand-drawn and animated video series about a little girl who wants to cross the big river to go to school in a big castle. We created the videos to teach participants about story structure in a visual way, suited to young people (and children) who are just starting to learn English.
And the young people enjoyed telling Alima’s story. They came up with different ways of making her motivations for going to the castle more interesting: a party; a big wedding; a new place to live; an open day for visitors; a place to ask for food for hungry villagers. In the meantime, we learned that a story becomes more involving the bigger the obstacle. Because our main character can then show us how smart she is in overcoming what’s in her way.
How to defeat a Dragon
In the video, it is a red dragon on the river’s bridge that stops Alima from going to school. Her big dream is to be a scientist one day. She must defeat the dragon. Alima wants to go to school. The group enjoyed finding different solutions to the dragon problem. In one version, the girl’s friends help her to distract the dragon; another lets Alima convince the beast to fly her across; the castle inhabitants, used to dealing with annoying, oversized animals, team up with her in the last one.
Turn It to Stone!
In our version, the river is as clear as a mirror. Alima show the beast his image in the water and it gets so worked up about this dragon competitor that it jumps to fight it. And as it hits the water, turns to stone because its fire goes out. Alima has outsmarted her enemy. She can now cross the bridge and go to school. Without being bothered.
The importance of friendship
As a follow-up, the young people developed their own stories. They mapped out a story idea and then told their tales to the whole class. Their stories came in a variety of genres. But all with one overarching theme: the importance of friendship. There was a science fiction epic: a scientist and his friend building a time machine to save their city from a sea monster. A romance story about two guys who fall in love with the same girl. A group of young people on their way to a music festival on the shores of Loch Lomond. And an adventure about Keeko, a little elephant, and a curious girl called Leila, who helps Keeko to find his mother in the depth of the jungle.