The word fiction comes from the Latin root fingere which means “to fashion or form.” For the past two centuries, we’ve used the term to mean a story told to entertain about imaginary people or events.
We need stories in every day life to understand ourselves and the world around us. Those friends of ours whom we love so much tell us tales every day. In times past, friends, lovers and family would put the tales down on paper. Now, we write texts, emails, blogs or go online. But we still need those tales.
Psychologists have used the power of storytelling to help people address their past trauma. Motivation experts counsel that stories have power. In Psychology Today, Pamela Rutledge says that “storytelling is a skill worth having.” https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/positively-media/201101/the-psychological-power-storytelling
These stories are different from the term narrative in their length and complexity. A narrative is the substance while a story is the form. There are different forms for fiction.
- A novel is a fictional tale consisting of 40,000 words or more.
- A novella is made of 17,000 to 40,000 words.
- A short story is between 1,000 and 20,000 words long.
- Microfiction, flash fiction or short-short stories are 1,000 words or less.
In my last post, I talked about the Elements of Fiction. Introduction to Lit. No. 4. Let’s take a look at that for crafting a response to a short story. I am going to respond to this short story, too.
Here’s the story. https://thesunmagazine.org/issues/549/deep-eddy
- Title. The title is Deep Eddy. I wondered if Eddy was the name of a person. In the deep, frightening things lurk. Deep people feel things in ways that other people don’t. I expected the story to be full of insightful content.
- Plot. The story follows a father and son team of fishermen who are trying to win a tournament by catching the biggest fish. That is what is happening on one level. On another, they are coping with his father’s grief over the disappearance and death of his wife, the son’s mother. During the story, they attempt to catch fish. The son visits his father once a month even though it is a long ride to go fishing with him. He says that he wants to prove to his dad that they are not cursed. He does prove it to him.
- Narrator. The story is told from the first person point of view, so it sounds like the person telling the story is talking about himself.
- Characters. There is the father, the son, the son’s wife and the mother. The mother has some dialogue about the movie “A River Runs Through It.” She also gets a descriptive detail when the son talks about the kitchen part that she painted with the words “Home Sweet Home.” Other than that, she is a memory, someone who does not disappear from the father’s and that easily. The father is a complex character that changes because he is faced with the proof that he is not cursed when what he wants most comes true and when his son miraculously does not die. I think that although he is not the narrator, he is the main character. We get to learn about his background, his motivation, his desires and his change. The son is the narrator who tells the story of his father’s life and his role in it.
- Setting. The story takes place in a town called Blacks Crossroads near A large body of water with waterfalls and a place to fish where there is a bridge.
- Tone. The story is matter of fact. It doesn’t overly embellish the events. It uses everyday language and contractions. There are references to fishing lures that someone with a background in bass fishing might understand. It’s a personal story told as if being told to a friend of the man’s father’s life. The mood is introspective and relaxed, so when the climactic scene happens at the end, there is surprise. The spell of comfort is momentarily disrupted.
- Metaphor. The fish symbolizes luck for the father. As long as he was unable to catch a fish with his son, he felt as though he had nothing but bad luck and was “cursed.” The boat is the place where the father and son spend time together and where they recover from grief. It symbolizes the life. As long as they are able, they keep a boat. After the miracle happens and the resolution comes, the father gets A bigger, nicer boat.
- Theme. When life feels empty and meaningless, you have to just get up and keep going. When the climax happened, the father asks the son if he wants to quit and he says no. There were many turns in this story, instances when the father just felt cursed, but he kept going with his son. Also, the son didn’t give up on his father even though the father was depressed and wouldn’t let go. At one point, the father even gets a new fishing partner, but the son does not give up on him. The father had trouble saying goodbye to his wife. Loyalty is another big theme in this story.
These are notes for an essay and are not what I would submit.
Do read Deep Eddy and do your own response to it.