A Pirate's Resources

Beginning Middle and End

Exercise 25 :: Beginning, Middle, and End

Your student is nearing the end of their time in our workbook. AND they are just beginning their time in storytelling (we hope!). They are in the middle of their schooling. Everything in life and in story falls somewhere in the midst of beginning, middle, and end. And, as First Mate Manfred makes sure to tell your student, we often don’t know what part of the story we are in, until the story is over and we can look back and identify, oh, that was only the beginning! Or the end came sooner than we thought. This is one section that fits nicely with most other writing curricula. Where you’ll only find the phrase “Act of Villainy” here (other texts use other terms), most everyone agrees that stories have beginnings, middles, and ends.

In Real Life :: This may seem like such a basic part of storytelling that it doesn’t need to be taught or dwelt on. But learning about beginning, middle, and end allows you to help your student make decisions, not only about their story, but in life as well. Understanding that each story (book, chapter, season, experience) has these 3 parts, and choosing how long to spend in each part, produces the shape of a story. It can be divided into 3 equal parts, or be heavier in on or another. A typical workday has a shape: get up at 6, work from 8-6, bed at 10. 2 hours, 10 hours, 4 hours. That is the shape of a day. Your child might learn to see things in terms of shape; depending on how much time they want to spend in different parts of their story, they can be efficient or linger longer. If a certain part of the story is more stressful than others, they may want to shorten it. If a certain part is more pleasurable, they may want to linger (and thus shorten another part).

These aspects of
beginning, middle, and end can also be seen as building blocks, and this, to me, really is helpful in life. If each thing we do, each mini-story we participate in, has these 3 time periods, we’ll want to get them in the right order, and if we are eager to get to the end, we will be willing to go through the beginning and middle. I tend to jump right into the middle of things. I’ll be knee deep in a recipe when I realize I’m missing an ingredient. That means I didn’t go through the beginning of my baking story well - I didn’t assemble all the parts before starting to build. Or if I don’t bake the cookies long enough (I try to skip something in the middle), the ending isn’t going to work out the way I want. True in story, true in life.

Help your student see
beginning, middle, and end in the stories they encounter, and throughout their days. When they are “stuck” in a part, remind them that there is another part coming, and to keep working towards it. If they are in the midst of story, help them break it down into its three parts, and make sure all those parts are in place at the right times.

(Helpful in parenting too - we are just in the middle, but now is a good time to look back - did I get all the right parts in the beginning? Are we missing things? It’s not too late to go back and make sure the building has a good foundation).

Finding it in the Story :: or this section, have your student think back through the entire story, and simply make a good guess as to what the beginning of the story is, and what the middle is. Make a guess: are you at the end? What makes you think so? Keep doing exercises and reading. If they need more work in this section, go ahead and have them pick any of the chapters that have ‘mini-story’ in them - the kraken chapters, or the one where Yogger frees the slave monkeys, among them - and separate it out, beginning, middle, and end. Remember that this is not an exact science, but creative work, so there is a great deal of flexibility in what the answers to this will be.