ACS Distance Education UK
What is the purpose of classifying stories?
By classifying stories into different types, we can broaden our understanding of different ways we might choose to approach the development of a plot.
Here are some ways of classifying stories:
Sense of place
These are written from the perspective of the person experiencing the story. The storyteller is a main player in the story.
They may be nonfictional accounts of exceptional events experienced by the writer.
They may be contrived fictional or embellished nonfictional stories
A biography tells the story of a life or part of a life.
It can be written from the outside looking in - in which case the storyteller is not one of the main players in the story.
These stories reflect on events, ideas or even possibilities.
They generally work toward a coherent conclusion but can appear disjointed at times (which can add to the intrigue, as the reader is forced to puzzle over how components of the story relate to each other).
At the end of the story, all should be revealed and the reader should be able to understand why the various components were all included earlier.
These are stories that recount the past, or fictionalised stories based on the past.
Historical times and events can form a rich source of inspiration for writers from which they can imagine details and build events that might have happened, but might not necessarily have actually happened.
Sense of Place
These are stories that are built around places.
The writer can start with a location or series of locations, and then build a story from there.
It might be a journey (e.g. Homer’s ‘Iliad,’ or ‘Around the World in Eighty Days’) or something in a fixed location (‘A Year in Provence,’ or something on board a spaceship).
These are stories that are rich in the opinion of one or a group of individuals.
A dramatic story can, for example, be built around a belief which is controversial and unexpected, such as the discovery that demons are real, or a belief that one race is superior to others.