Gateway to the Classics: How To Tell Stories to Children by Sara Cone Bryant
 
How To Tell Stories to Children by  Sara Cone Bryant

Adaptation of Stories for Telling

It soon becomes easy to pick out from a collection such stories as can be well told; but at no time is it easy to find a sufficient number of such stories. Stories simple, direct, and sufficiently full of incident for telling, yet having the beautiful or valuable motive we desire for children, do not lie hidden in every book. And even many of the stories which are most charming to read do not answer the double demand, for the appeal to the eye differs in many important respects from that to the ear. Unless one is able to change the form of a story to suit the needs of oral delivery, one is likely to suffer from poverty of material. Perhaps the commonest need of change is in the case of a story too long to tell, yet embodying some one beautiful incident or lesson; or one including a series of such incidents. The story of The Nürnberg Stove, by Ouida, is a good example of the latter kind; Ruskin's King of the Golden River will serve as an illustration of the former.

The problem in one case is chiefly one of elimination; in the other it is also in a large degree one of rearrangement. In both cases I have purposely chosen extreme instances, as furnishing plainer illustration. The usual story needs less adaptation than these, but the same kind, in its own degree. Condensation and rearrangement are the commonest forms of change required.

Pure condensation is probably the easier for most persons. With The Nürnberg Stove in mind for reference, let us see what the process includes. This story can be readily found by anyone who is interested in the following example of adaptation, for nearly every library includes in its catalogue the juvenile works of Mlle. de la Ramée (Ouida). The suggestions given assume that the story is before my readers.

The story as it stands is two thousand four hundred words long, obviously too long to tell. What can be left out? Let us see what must be kept in.

The dramatic climax toward which we are working is the outcome of August's strange exploit,—his discovery by the king and the opportunity for him to become an artist. The joy of this climax is twofold: August may stay with his beloved Hirschvogel, and he may learn to make beautiful things like it. To arrive at the twofold conclusion we must start from a double premise,—the love of the stove and the yearning to be an artist. It will, then, be necessary to include in the beginning of the story enough details of the family life to show plainly how precious and necessary Hirschvogel was to the children; and to state definitely how August had learned to admire and wish to emulate Hirschvogel's maker. We need no detail beyond what is necessary to make this clear.

The beginning and the end of a story decided upon, its body becomes the bridge from one to the other; in this case it is August's strange journey, beginning with the catastrophe and his grief-dazed decision to follow the stove. The journey is long, and each stage of it is told in full. As this is impossible in oral reproduction, it becomes necessary to choose typical incidents, which will give the same general effect as the whole. The incidents which answer this purpose are: the beginning of the journey, the experience on the luggage train, the jolting while being carried on men's shoulders, the final fright and suspense before the king opens the door.

The episode of the night in the bric-a-brac shop introduces a wholly new and confusing train of thought; therefore, charming as it is, it must be omitted. And the secondary thread of narrative interest, that of the prices for which the stove was sold, and the retribution visited on the cheating dealers, is also "another story," and must be ignored. Each of these destroys the clear sequence and the simplicity of plot which must be kept for telling.

We are reduced, then, for the whole, to this: a brief preliminary statement of the place Hirschvogel held in the household affections, and the ambition aroused in August; the catastrophe of the sale; August's decision; his experiences on the train, on the shoulders of men, and just before the discovery; his discovery, and the dénouement.

This not only reduces the story to tellable form, but it also leaves a suggestive interest which heightens later enjoyment of the original. I suggest the adaptation of Kate Douglas Wiggin, in The Story Hour, since in view of the existence of a satisfactory adaptation it seems unappreciative to offer a second. The one I made for my own use some years ago is not dissimilar to this, and I have no reason to suppose it more desirable.

Ruskin's King of the Golden River is somewhat difficult to adapt. Not only is it long, but its style is mature, highly descriptive, and closely allegorical. Yet the tale is too beautiful and too suggestive to be lost to the story-teller. And it is, also, so recognised a part of the standard literary equipment of youth that teachers need to be able to introduce children to its charm. To make it available for telling, we must choose the most essential events of the series leading up to the climax, and present these so simply as to appeal to children's ears, and so briefly as not to tire them.

The printed story is eight thousand words in length. The first three thousand words depict the beauty and fertility of the Treasure Valley, and the cruel habits of Hans and Schwartz, its owners, and give the culminating incident which leads to their banishment by "West Wind." This episode,—the West Wind's appearance in the shape of an aged traveller, his kind reception by the younger brother, little Gluck, and the subsequent wrath of Hans and Schwartz, with their resulting punishment,—occupies about two thousand words. The rest of the story deals with the three brothers after the decree of West Wind has turned Treasure Valley into a desert. In the little house where they are plying their trade of goldsmiths, the King of the Golden River appears to Gluck and tells him the magic secret of turning the river's waters to gold. Hans and Schwartz in turn attempt the miracle, and in turn incur the penalty attached to failure. Gluck tries, and wins the treasure through self-sacrifice. The form of the treasure is a renewal of the fertility of Treasure Valley, and the moral of the whole story is summed up in Ruskin's words, "So the inheritance which was lost by cruelty was regained by love."

It is easy to see that the dramatic part of the story and that which most pointedly illustrates the underlying idea, is the triple attempt to win the treasure,—the two failures and the one success. But this is necessarily introduced by the episode of the King of the Golden River, which is, also, an incident sure to appeal to a child's imagination. And the regaining of the inheritance is meaningless without the fact of its previous loss, and the reason for the loss, as a contrast with the reason for its recovery. We need, then, the main facts recorded in the first three thousand words. But the West Wind episode must be avoided, not only for brevity, but because two supernatural appearances, so similar, yet of different personalities, would hopelessly confuse a told story.

Our oral story is now to be made out of a condensed statement of the character of the Valley and of its owners, and the manner of its loss; the intervention of the King of the Golden River; the three attempts to turn the river to gold, and Gluck's success. Gluck is to be our hero, and our underlying idea is the power of love versus cruelty. Description is to be reduced to its lowest terms, and the language made simple and concrete.

With this outline in mind, it may be useful to compare the following adaptation with the original story. The adaptation is not intended in any sense as a substitute for the original, but merely as that form of it which can be told, while the original remains for reading.

The Golden River

There was once a beautiful little valley, where the sun was warm, and the rains fell softly; its apples were so red, its corn so yellow, its grapes so blue, that it was called the Treasure Valley. Not a river ran into it, but one great river flowed down the mountains on the other side, and because the setting sun always tinged its high cataract with gold after the rest of the world was dark, it was called the Golden River. The lovely valley belonged to three brothers. The youngest, little Gluck, was happy-hearted and kind, but he had a hard life with his brothers, for Hans and Schwartz were so cruel and so mean that they were known everywhere around as the "Black Brothers." They were hard to their farm hands, hard to their customers, hard to the poor, and hardest of all to Gluck.

At last the Black Brothers became so bad that the Spirit of the West Wind took vengeance on them; he forbade any of the gentle winds, south and west, to bring rain to the valley. Then, since there were no rivers in it, it dried up, and instead of a treasure valley it became a desert of dry, red sand. The Black Brothers could get nothing out of it, and they wandered out into the world on the other side of the mountain-peaks; and little Gluck went with them.

Hans and Schwartz went out every day, wasting their time in wickedness, but they left Gluck in the house to work. And they lived on the gold and silver they had saved in Treasure Valley, till at last it was all gone. The only precious thing left was Gluck's gold mug. This the Black Brothers decided to melt into spoons, to sell; and in spite of Gluck's tears, they put it in the melting pot, and went out, leaving him to watch it.

Poor little Gluck sat at the window, trying not to cry for his dear golden mug, and as the sun began to go down, he saw the beautiful cataract of the Golden River turn red, and yellow, and then pure gold.

"Oh, dear!" he said to himself, "how fine it would be if the river were really golden! I needn't be poor, then."

"It wouldn't be fine at all!" said a thin, metallic little voice, in his ear.

"Mercy, what's that!" said Gluck, looking all about. But nobody was there.

Suddenly the sharp little voice came again.

"Pour me out," it said, "I am too hot!"

It seemed to come right from the oven, and as Gluck stood, staring in fright, it came again, "Pour me out; I'm too hot!"

Gluck was very much frightened, but he went and looked in the melting pot. When he touched it, the little voice said, "Pour me out, I say!" And Gluck took the handle and began to pour the gold out.

First came out a tiny pair of yellow legs; then a pair of yellow coat-tails; then a strange little yellow body, and, last, a wee yellow face, with long curls of gold hair. And the whole put itself together as it fell, and stood up on the floor,—the strangest little yellow dwarf, about a foot high!

"Dear, me!" said Gluck.

But the little yellow man said, "Gluck, do you know who I am? I am the King of the Golden River."

Gluck did not know what to say, so he said nothing; and, indeed, the little man gave him no chance. He said, "Gluck, I have been watching you, and what I have seen of you, I like. Listen, and I will tell you something for your good. Whoever shall climb to the top of the mountain from which the Golden River falls, and shall cast into its waters three drops of holy water, for him and him only shall its waters turn to gold. But no one can succeed except at the first trial, and anyone who casts unholy water in the river will be turned into a black stone."

And then, before Gluck could draw his breath, the King walked straight into the hottest flame of the fire, and vanished up the chimney!

When Gluck's brothers came home, they beat him black and blue, because the mug was gone. But when he told them about the King of the Golden River they quarrelled all night, as to which should go to get the gold. At last, Hans, who was the stronger, got the better of Schwartz, and started off. The priest would not give such a bad man any holy water, so he stole a bottleful. Then he took a basket of bread and wine, and began to climb the mountain.

He climbed fast, and soon came to the end of the first hill. But there he found a great glacier, a hill of ice, which he had never seen before. It was horrible to cross,—the ice was slippery, great gulfs yawned before him, and noises like groans and shrieks came from under his feet. He lost his basket of bread and wine, and was quite faint with fear and exhaustion when his feet touched firm ground again.

Next he came to a hill of hot, red rock, without a bit of grass to ease the feet, or a particle of shade. After an hour's climb he was so thirsty that he felt that he must drink. He looked at the flask of water. "Three drops are enough," he thought; "I will just cool my lips." He was lifting the flask to his lips when he saw something beside him in the path. It was a small dog, and it seemed to be dying of thirst. Its tongue was out, its legs were lifeless, and a swarm of black ants were crawling about its lips. It looked piteously at the bottle which Hans held. Hans raised the bottle, drank, kicked at the animal, and passed on.

A strange black shadow came across the blue sky.

Another hour Hans climbed; the rocks grew hotter and the way steeper every moment. At last he could bear it no longer; he must drink. The bottle was half empty, but he decided to drink half of what was left. As he lifted it, something moved in the path beside him. It was a child, lying nearly dead of thirst on the rock, its eyes closed, its lips burning, its breath coming in gasps. Hans looked at it, drank, and passed on.

A dark cloud came over the sun, and long shadows crept up the mountain-side.

It grew very steep now, and the air weighed like lead on Hans's forehead, but the Golden River was very near. Hans stopped a moment to breathe, then started to climb the last height.

As he clambered on, he saw an old, old man lying in the path. His eyes were sunken, and his face deadly pale.

"Water!" he said; "water!"

"I have none for you," said Hans; "you have had your share of life." He strode over the old man's body and climbed on.

A flash of blue lightning dazzled him for an instant, and then the heavens were dark.

At last Hans stood on the brink of the cataract of the Golden River. The sound of its roaring filled the air. He drew the flask from his side and hurled it into the torrent. As he did so, an icy chill shot through him; he shrieked and fell. And the river rose and flowed over The Black Stone.

When Hans did not come back Gluck grieved, but Schwartz was glad. He decided to go and get the gold for himself. He thought it might not do to steal the holy water, as Hans had done, so he took the money little Gluck had earned, and bought holy water of a bad priest. Then he took a basket of bread and wine, and started off.

He came to the great hill of ice, and was as surprised as Hans had been, and found it as hard to cross. Many times he slipped, and he was much frightened at the noises, and was very glad to get across, although he had lost his basket of bread and wine. Then he came to the same hill of sharp, red stone, without grass or shade, that Hans had climbed. And like Hans he became very thirsty. Like Hans, too, he decided to drink a little of the water. As he raised it to his lips, he suddenly saw the same fair child that Hans had seen.

"Water!" said the child. "Water! I am dying."

"I have not enough for myself," said Schwartz, and passed on.

A low bank of black cloud rose out of the west.

When he had climbed for another hour, the thirst overcame him again, and again he lifted the flask to his lips. As he did so, he saw an old man who begged for water.

"I have not enough for myself," said Schwartz, and passed on.

A mist, of the colour of blood, came over the sun.

Then Schwartz climbed for another hour, and once more he had to drink. This time, as he lifted the flask, he thought he saw his brother Hans before him. The figure stretched its arms to him, and cried out for water.

"Ha, ha," laughed Schwartz, "do you suppose I brought the water up here for you?" And he strode over the figure. But when he had gone a few yards farther, he looked back, and the figure was not there.

Then he stood at the brink of the Golden River, and its waves were black, and the roaring of the waters filled all the air. He cast the flask into the stream. And as he did so the lightning glared in his eyes, the earth gave way beneath him, and the river flowed over the Two Black Stones.

When Gluck found himself alone, he at last decided to try his luck with the King of the Golden River. The priest gave him some holy water as soon as he asked for it, and with this and a basket of bread he started off.

The hill of ice was much harder for Gluck to climb, because he was not so strong as his brothers. He lost his bread, fell often, and was exhausted when he got on firm ground. He began to climb the hill in the hottest part of the day. When he had climbed for an hour he was very thirsty, and lifted the bottle to drink a little water. As he did so he saw a feeble old man coming down the path toward him.

"I am faint with thirst," said the old man; "will you give me some of that water?"

Gluck saw that he was pale and tired, so he gave him the water, saying, "Please don't drink it all." But the old man drank a great deal, and gave back the bottle two-thirds emptied. Then he bade Gluck good speed, and Gluck went on merrily.

Some grass appeared on the path, and the grasshoppers began to sing.

At the end of another hour, Gluck felt that he must drink again. But, as he raised the flask, he saw a little child lying by the roadside, and it cried out pitifully for water. After a struggle with himself Gluck decided to bear the thirst a little longer. He put the bottle to the child's lips, and it drank all but a few drops. Then it got up and ran down the hill.

All kinds of sweet flowers began to grow on the rocks, and crimson and purple butterflies flitted about in the air.

At the end of another hour, Gluck's thirst was almost unbearable. He saw that there were only five or six drops of water in the bottle, however, and he did not dare to drink. So he was putting the flask away again when he saw a little dog on the rocks, gasping for breath. He looked at it, and then at the Golden River, and he remembered the dwarf's words, "No one can succeed except at the first trial"; and he tried to pass the dog. But it whined piteously, and Gluck stopped. He could not bear to pass it. "Confound the King and his gold, too!" he said; and he poured the few drops of water into the dog's mouth.

The dog sprang up; its tail disappeared, its nose grew red, and its eyes twinkled. The next minute the dog was gone, and the King of the Golden River stood there. He stooped and plucked a lily that grew beside Gluck's feet. Three drops of dew were on its white leaves. These the dwarf shook into the flask which Gluck held in his hand.

"Cast these into the river," he said, "and go down the other side of the mountains into the Treasure Valley." Then he disappeared.

Gluck stood on the brink of the Golden River, and cast the three drops of dew into the stream. Where they fell, a little whirlpool opened; but the water did not turn to gold. Indeed, the water seemed vanishing altogether. Gluck was disappointed not to see gold, but he obeyed the King of the Golden River, and went down the other side of the mountains.

When he came out into the Treasure Valley, a river, like the Golden River, was springing from a new cleft in the rocks above, and flowing among the heaps of dry sand. And then fresh grass sprang beside the river, flowers opened along its sides, and vines began to cover the whole valley. The Treasure Valley was becoming a garden again.

Gluck lived in the Valley, and his grapes were blue, and his apples were red, and his corn was yellow; and the poor were never driven from his door. For him, as the King had promised, the river was really a River of Gold.


* * * * * *

It will probably be clear to anyone who has followed these attempts, that the first step in adaptation is analysis, careful analysis of the story as it stands. One asks oneself, What is the story? Which events are necessary links in the chain? How much of the text is pure description?

Having this essential body of the story in mind, one then decides which of the steps toward the climax are needed for safe arrival there, and keeps these. When two or more steps can be covered in a single stride, one makes the stride. When a necessary explanation is unduly long, or is woven into the story in too many strands, one disposes of it in an introductory statement, or perhaps in a side remark. If there are two or more threads of narrative, one chooses among them, and holds strictly to the one chosen, eliminating details which concern the others.

In order to hold the simplicity of plot so attained, it is also desirable to have but few personages in the story, and to narrate the action from the point of view of one of them,—usually the hero. To shift the point of view of the action is confusing to the child's mind.

When the analysis and condensation have been accomplished, the whole must be cast in simple language, keeping if possible the same kind of speech as that used in the original, but changing difficult or technical terms to plain, and complex images to simple and familiar ones.

All types of adaptation share in this need of simple language,—stories which are too short, as well as those which are too long, have this feature in their changed form. The change in a short story is applied oftenest where it becomes desirable to amplify a single anecdote, or perhaps a fable, which is told in very condensed form. Such an instance is the following anecdote of heroism, which in the original is quoted in one of F.W. Robertson's lectures on Poetry.

A detachment of troops was marching along a valley, the cliffs overhanging which were crested by the enemy. A sergeant, with eleven men, chanced to become separated from the rest by taking the wrong side of a ravine, which they expected soon to terminate, but which suddenly deepened into an impassable chasm. The officer in command signalled to the party an order to return. They mistook the signal for a command to charge; the brave fellows answered with a cheer, and charged. At the summit of the steep mountain was a triangular platform, defended by a breastwork, behind which were seventy of the foe. On they went, charging up one of those fearful paths, eleven against seventy. The contest could not long be doubtful with such odds. One after another they fell; six upon the spot, the remainder hurled backwards; but not until they had slain nearly twice their own number.

There is a custom, we are told, amongst the hillsmen, that when a great chieftain of their own falls in battle, his wrist is bound with a thread either of red or green, the red denoting the highest rank. According to custom, they stripped the dead, and threw their bodies over the precipice. When their comrades came, they found their corpses stark and gashed; but round both wrists of every British hero was twined the red thread!

This anecdote serves its purpose of illustration perfectly well, but considered as a separate story it is somewhat too explanatory in diction, and too condensed in form. Just as the long story is analysed for reduction of given details, so this must be analysed,—to find the details implied. We have to read into it again all that has been left between the lines.

Moreover, the order must be slightly changed, if we are to end with the proper "snap," the final sting of surprise and admiration given by the point of the story; the point must be prepared for. The purpose of the original is equally well served by the explanation at the end, but we must never forget that the place for the climax, or effective point in a story told, is the last thing said. That is what makes a story "go off" well.

Imagining vividly the situation suggested, and keeping the logical sequence of facts in mind, shall we not find the story telling itself to boys and girls in somewhat this form?

The Red Thread of Courage

This story which I am going to tell you is a true one. It happened while the English troops in India were fighting against some of the native tribes. The natives who were making trouble were people from the hill-country, called Hillsmen, and they were strong enemies. The English knew very little about them, except their courage, but they had noticed one peculiar custom, after certain battles,—the Hillsmen had a way of marking the bodies of their greatest chiefs who were killed in battle by binding a red thread about the wrist; this was the highest tribute they could pay a hero. The English, however, found the common men of them quite enough to handle, for they had proved themselves good fighters and clever at ambushes.

One day, a small body of the English had marched a long way into the hill country, after the enemy, and in the afternoon they found themselves in a part of the country strange even to the guides. The men moved forward very slowly and cautiously, for fear of an ambush. The trail led into a narrow valley with very steep, high, rocky sides, topped with woods in which the enemy might easily hide.

Here the soldiers were ordered to advance more quickly, though with caution, to get out of the dangerous place.

After a little they came suddenly to a place where the passage was divided in two by a big three-cornered boulder which seemed to rise from the midst of the valley. The main line of men kept to the right; to save crowding the path, a sergeant and eleven men took the left, meaning to go round the rock and meet the rest beyond it.

They had been in the path only a few minutes when they saw that the rock was not a single boulder at all, but an arm of the left wall of the valley, and that they were marching into a deep ravine with no outlet except the way they came. Both sides were sheer rock, almost perpendicular, with thick trees at the top; in front of them the ground rose in a steep hill, bare of woods. As they looked up, they saw that the top was barricaded by the trunks of trees, and guarded by a strong body of Hillsmen. As the English hesitated, looking at this, a shower of spears fell from the wood's edge, aimed by hidden foes. The place was a death trap.

At this moment, their danger was seen by the officer in command of the main body, and he signalled to the sergeant to retreat.

By some terrible mischance, the signal was misunderstood. The men took it for the signal to charge. Without a moment's pause, straight up the slope, they charged on the run, cheering as they ran.

Some were killed by the spears that were thrown from the cliffs, before they had gone half way; some were stabbed as they reached the crest, and hurled backward from the precipice; two or three got to the top, and fought hand to hand with the Hillsmen. They were outnumbered, seven to one; but when the last of the English soldiers lay dead, twice their number of Hillsmen lay dead around them!

When the relief party reached the spot, later in the day, they found the bodies of their comrades, full of wounds, huddled over and in the barricade, or crushed on the rocks below. They were mutilated and battered, and bore every sign of the terrible struggle. But round both wrists of every British soldier was bound the red thread!

The Hillsmen had paid greater honour to their heroic foes than to the bravest of their own brave dead.


* * * * * *

Another instance is the short poem, which, while being perfectly simple, is rich in suggestion of more than the young child will see for himself. The following example shows the working out of details in order to provide a satisfactorily rounded story.

The Elf and The Dormouse

Once upon a time a dormouse lived in the wood with his mother. She had made a snug little nest, but Sleepy-head, as she called her little mousie, loved to roam about among the grass and fallen leaves, and it was a hard task to keep him at home. One day the mother went off as usual to look for food, leaving Sleepy-head curled up comfortably in a corner of the nest. "He will lie there safely till I come back," she thought. Presently, however, Sleepy-head opened his eyes and thought he would like to take a walk out in the fresh air. So he crept out of the nest and through the long grass that nodded over the hole in the bank. He ran here and he ran there, stopping again and again to cock his little ears for sound of any creeping thing that might be close at hand. His little fur coat was soft and silky as velvet. Mother had licked it clean before starting her day's work, you may be sure. As Sleepy-head moved from place to place his long tail swayed from side to side and tickled the daisies so that they could not hold themselves still for laughing.

Presently something very cold fell on Sleepy-head's nose. What could it be? He put up his little paw and dabbed at the place. Then the same thing happened to his tail. He whisked it quickly round to the front. Ah, it was raining! Now Sleepy-head couldn't bear rain, and he had got a long way from home. What would mother say if his nice furry coat got wet and draggled? He crept under a bush, but soon the rain found him out. Then he ran to a tree, but this was poor shelter. He began to think that he was in for a soaking when what should he spy, a little distance off, but a fine toadstool which stood bolt upright just like an umbrella. The next moment Sleepy-head was crawling underneath the friendly shelter. He fixed himself up as snugly as he could, with his little nose upon his paws and his little tail curled round all, and before you could count six, eight, ten, twenty, he was fast asleep.

Now it happened that Sleepy-head was not the only creature that was caught by the rain that morning in the wood. A little elf had been flitting about in search of fun or mischief, and he, too, had got far from home when the raindrops began to come pattering through the leafy roof of the beautiful wood. It would never do to get his pretty wings wet, for he hated to walk—it was such slow work and, besides, he might meet some big wretched animal that could run faster than himself. However, he was beginning to think that there was no help for it, when, on a sudden, there before him was the toadstool, with Sleepy-head snug and dry underneath! There was room for another little fellow, thought the elf, and ere long he had safely bestowed himself under the other half of the toadstool, which was just like an umbrella.

Sleepy-head slept on, warm and comfortable in his furry coat, and the elf began to feel annoyed with him for being so happy. He was always a great mischief, and he could not bear to sit still for long at a time. Presently he laughed a queer little laugh. He had got an idea! Putting his two small arms round the stem of the toadstool he tugged and he pulled until, of a sudden, snap! He had broken the stem, and a moment later was soaring in air safely sheltered under the toadstool, which he held upright by its stem as he flew.

Sleepy-head had been dreaming, oh, so cosy a dream! It seemed to him that he had discovered a storehouse filled with golden grain and soft juicy nuts with little bunches of sweet-smelling hay, where tired mousies might sleep dull hours away. He thought that he was settled in the sweetest bunch of all, with nothing in the world to disturb his nap, when gradually he became aware that something had happened. He shook himself in his sleep and settled down again, but the dream had altered. He opened his eyes. Rain was falling, pit-a-pat, and he was without cover on a wet patch of grass. What could be the matter? Sleepy-head was now wide awake. Said he,

"DEAR ME, WHERE IS MY TOADSTOOL?"

From these four instances we may, perhaps, deduce certain general principles of adaptation which have at least proved valuable to those using them.

These are suggestions which the practised story-teller will find trite. But to others they may prove a fair foundation on which to build a personal method to be developed by experience. I have given them a tabular arrangement below.

The preliminary step in all cases is Analysis of the Story.

The aim, then, is to reduce a long story or to amplify a short one.

For the first, the need is Elimination of secondary threads of narrative, extra personages, description, irrelevant events.

For the second, the great need is of Realising Imagination.

For both, it is desirable to keep Close Logical Sequence, A Single Point of View, Simple Language, The Point at the End.


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