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Article image for An Aesop Fable and the structure of a story (Story Tip 2)

Posted by Marie Pawsey

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The dog and the bone is an Aesop Fable, which has here been adapted to an Australian setting. 

[Aesop’s Fables, along with parables, are well-known forms of story.]


Read the fable like you are watching a video – where much of the story is in the vision. 

And notice how the story happens. 


A story starts with an orientation –

A small dog noses its way along a dusty back street finding small scraps in the long morning shadows.  Down a lane to the main street a pack of other stray dogs stream past barking.  The barking fades away.

 – The orientation gives us an idea of the setting (where and when the story happens) and the character the story happens to.


Then a complication happens –

At the corner, the dog sees the butcher put a big bone in their bin.  The small dog’s ears prick up.

 – The story has begun, and we want to know what happens next.


To which there is a solution –

The small dog looks both ways, then trots to the butcher’s bin.  He dives in for the bone.

– We want things to work out for our main character.


Perhaps another complication –

The dog scrambles out of the bin.  The bone is enormous compared to the size of the dog.  In the distance another dog barks.  The dog looks around.

 - A story can have just one complication and solution, or a series of them.


Followed by another solution –

The dog grabs the bone firmly and scoots down the back streets through short shadows.  Occasionally another distant dog barks.  From the outskirts of town, the small dog races across bright fields and disappears into the bush with one backward glance.  It is quiet, only birdsong and wind in the trees.


Complication –

The dog hears a distant creek.  The small dog reaches the bank of a deep creek and puts down the bone.  Then he searches a little in both directions and also sniffs the water.


Solution –

In the distance, a tree has fallen all the way across the creek.  The small dog picks up the bone, running to the tree trunk.  The dog clenches his teeth on the bone, and carefully walks out along the tree trunk bridge.


Complication –

The dog pauses and glances over the side of the log into the water.  The dog’s reflection is in the water.  The reflected bone looks really large.


Solution –

The small dog on the log hesitates and growls.  The dog’s bone drops on the far side of the log as the small dog leaps barking onto where the reflection was. 


Resolution –

The small dog splashes into the creek and hunts in every direction for the reflected dog and bone (and the bone he had had).  He finds nothing, and rests despondent and wet on the bank of the creek as it begins to get dark.  The small dog whines. 


Coda –

Sunrise and a large dingo is going for a swim further downstream in the creek.  He spots a large meaty bone, fishes it out and lies on the bank of the creek gnawing on the bone. 

- The coda of an Aesop Fable is a moral for the story: Be satisfied with what you actually have. 

Another traditional coda for a story is:  ‘And they all lived happily ever after’!


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