student writing test

An exercise to work on the Problem-outcome approach with your children or students

The bad thing about having small children is that there are nights when after being woken up by them, one can no longer go back to sleep. 

To understand what turning points are, I recommend you visit an article on How to write a book, by Abel Amutxategi. Anyway, I’m going to try to give you some brushstrokes.

The turning point is that event that takes place in a story, film or novel, which completely changes the situation of the protagonist. Scenes that take the protagonist to a new and different context, with different rules of the game than the ones he knew to date. A new context that pushes you to action and from which there is no going back.

Oren Klaff says in his book Pitch Anything that one of the two secret ingredients in the magic formula of attention is knowing how to create tension. That’s why good stories all have a turning point in the first few minutes or on the first few pages. An uncertain situation that creates the necessary tension in the audience to fully capture their attention and interest.

The Problem-Outcome Pattern

In fact, every good story follows the Problem-Outcome pattern.

After a more or less brief introduction, the turning point poses a problematic situation. The rest of the story deals with how the protagonist deals with this situation and what outcome it has.

And that’s not just limited to the big screen or books. It is also applicable to communication in general.

When considering giving a presentation, it is important to use the Problem-Outcome pattern to capture the audience’s interest and secure their attention.

The summary of a book using the problem-outcome pattern

woman writing her work

When children are young, the chronological perspective of things usually prevails in their narrative.

When my son comes home and I ask him what he did on the trip to the paint factory, his answer is usually a review of all the activities (breakfast, bus, recess, lunch included) in strict chronological order.

The same thing happens when, after watching a movie or reading a book, I ask him to explain what it’s about. Start playing the different scenes that take place in order and in the order in which they appear in the plot.

To be fair, that’s not something unique to young children. Unfortunately, there are plenty of adult lecturers whose criteria for organizing information in their talk are not far from my son’s.

Precisely to get my son to learn to use the Problem-Solution pattern, I recently started working on it with him, taking advantage of some book summary sheets that they have to fill in.

The space to write the summary is quite small, so with the chronological approach it does not allow you to tell everything. So we have started to work on it in a different way.

The first thing I ask you is to identify the problem that appears in the book.

For example: Pitus’s birthday is coming up and neither his mother nor his father can prepare the party for him.

And then I ask for a summary of how the problem was fixed.

Following the example: Her sister Tina offers to prepare her and thanks to her magic book she throws the best party in the world.

Obviously the first few times it is difficult for him to identify the problem himself and I have to guide him through the process. But with this new approach it is much easier for him to summarize a book. Much more, for example, than with the exercise The book in a sentence that we already talked about here. And it is also customary to use the Problem-outcome pattern, which will be essential when you have to create your own presentations.

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Meet Hillary, a passionate author who weaves captivating stories that transport readers to new worlds. With her vivid imagination and gift for storytelling, Hillary creates characters that come to life on the pages of her books. Her writing style is known for its rich descriptions, nuanced emotions, and thought-provoking themes.

Hillary’s love for literature began at a young age, and she has honed her craft over the years, continually pushing the boundaries of her creativity. Her stories often delve into the depths of human nature, exploring the complexities of relationships, the power of resilience, and the beauty of self-discovery.

When reading Hillary’s work, be prepared to embark on an unforgettable journey. Whether it’s a heartwarming romance, an exhilarating adventure, or a thought-provoking literary masterpiece, Hillary’s books will leave you captivated and yearning for more.

With each new release, Hillary invites readers to step into her imaginative world, where they can lose themselves in the pages and find solace, inspiration, and a renewed love for the written word. Experience the magic of Hillary’s storytelling and let her transport you to places you’ve never dreamed of.