Wednesday, September 29, 2010


A single story can be hopeful or not-so-hopeful. It all depends on where you put the emphasis.

Part 1
Create hope in a story you tell by making sure you know in your heart where the hope is. Feel it first.

Part 2
Create hope by playing with time. Make the time span as long as it needs to be.

Part 3
Create hope in one context by telling a hopeful story about another.

Part 4
Create hope in stories by talking about hope.

Part 5
Create hope in stories by including symbols.

part 6
Create hope with heroes

Part 7
Create hope by favouring the underdog.

Part 8
Create hope by reporting the unexpected good thing.

Part 9
Create hope by telling how an impossible thing became possible.

10) Create hope in stories with the language of ”yet” and “”when”.

Using “yet” and “when” in a hopeful way is a skill worth developing because these are powerful hope words coming from people who know how and where to place them. They can help us connect to the hope that lies unexpressed just below the surface of a story. They can set up the foreshadowing of a future that will occur later in a story, or a future that might occur after the story. A sentence that hints at the possibility of a better future is a sentence that invites us to hope. It takes a bit of experimentation to learn to use “yet” and “when” in a hopeful context, given that both these words are commonly used in a variety of ways.
For those of you who find it helpful to map out the grammar, we’ll be employing “”Yet” as an adverb and “when” as a conjunction. These rules out other forms that are not related to hope, even though they are appropriate uses of the language. “Yet” as an adverb sets a timeline on some sort of action. “It hasn’t happened yet.” “When” as a conjunction connects a timeline to an event. “It rained when he came to town." ”Yet” and “when” give us hope when we use them to draw a contrast between a situation at one time, and that same situation at another time.
Let us look at using “yet” and “when” to foreshadow something good that is going to happen in a story. The teller has all the power to influence hope here, because the teller knows what is going to happen. Think of a story where Johnny’s mother despairs over the constant mess in her house. You can in that story, for example, describe a floor covered in dirty socks. You can say, “Johnny never picked up his socks,” and not feel any hope at all. You can say, “Johnny hasn’t picked up his socks yet.” In this case, we really don’t know if there’s any hope that he will. Some will choose to hope that he will, others will imagine that he won’t. But if you, the teller, already know that Johnny did eventually learn to pick up his socks, you can say, “Johnny hadn’t learned to pick up his socks yet.” That statement foreshadows the future. It opens the door to a possible contrast between this point in the story and some other point we haven’t reached yet. It tempts us, invites us to hope that he does, at some point, pick them up. It guides us through the story in a hopeful way.
“When” can also foreshadow a good thing the teller knows is going to happen. In this example it points to a contrast between how things are at one point in a story, and how they will be at another point. “It was back in the dirty days, the days when Johnny didn’t pick up socks.” “She would sip her coffee, dreaming of the day when the floor would sparkle, its surface unencumbered by Johnny’s dirty socks.” Again, note the contrast between two time periods.
Now let us turn to another way in which we can generate hope with “yet” and “when”. We can use them to foreshadow a hopeful future that could possibly happen in a time after our story is finished. It hasn’t happened so far, or maybe it did happen in the past and is not happening now. It’s the hopeful future that hasn’t occurred yet. The hope comes from our expectation that things will be better when it does. Things will be better as soon as it happens. Things will be better at the time when it happens. Here we are stepping out on uncertain, untested ground—the land of the unknown, the territory of possibility. We are deciding that we will still have hope at the known end of our story, using language to create that hope without the support of the happily-ever-after scenario that has neatly concluded so many fairy tales from the past. We are projecting, in a subtle way, a hopeful story of a time beyond the end of our story.
“Johnny hasn’t picked up his socks yet. And if the house is quieter now, no sound of nagging or pleading, then it just may be that Johnny’s mother is too busy making fabulous quilts to notice.” “Johnny’s mother is busier these days. Quilting is her all-consuming passion. And when Johnny reaches that magic age of picking up socks and doing little things to please his mother, it may take her a few days to notice.”

1 comment:

Audrey Stechynsky said...

I needed to be reminded of hopeful language today......thanks from audrey