Introduction to Lit. 8

The last installment of this series described writing an essay about a short story. That was before the hiatus. I have briefly reviewed my notes, and the rough draft of the response essay will be posted here.

Recap

For this post, we will go with our discussion of Literature. During our series we have done the following.

  1. Come to understand what Literature is.
  2. Discussed how Literature is a “great conversation” which includes many speakers.
  3. Talked about reasons for studying Literature.
  4. Looked at a list of the elements of Literature.
  5. Introduced the short story, “Deep Eddy.”
  6. Arrived at an explanation of “central question” that an interesting thesis will answer.
  7. Provided notes for a sample of writing in response to “Deep Eddy.”

Description

This course is an exploration of the Literature of the United States in all its multifaceted shine. Within these weekly posts, we will read texts from writers from all backgrounds. There are writers who will be featured in these posts that were not born in the United States, but who wrote here and had an impact on the culture of the United States.

Literature has already been defined in a rudimentary way. There are schools of thought that define Literature as anything written. That definition is too broad for the purposes of this course.

We will concentrate on Fiction, then Poetry and finally Drama. Each section will be comprised of 12 posts. We have already begun our talk about Fiction.

Personal note

I have learned so much so far, and hope that you have enjoyed it. I am sorry for the break in the middle of the lesson. It was actually due to great news. I was accepted to the University of my choice to study Literature formally and began studies the second week of January. My mind and being was caught up in that. Again, I apologize for taking a hiatus from this blog.

So, we press on with Fiction.

Plot

“But great fiction and responsive readers are often just as interested in questions about why things happen and about how the characters’ lives are affected as a result. These how and why questions are likely to be answered very differently by different readers of the very same fictional work; as a result, such questions will often generate powerful essays, whereas mainly factual questions about what happens in the work usually won’t.” PG 54.

The first element in a piece is the plot. Some authors say that they write according to the character. The plot does stem in part from the character’s motivations which results in reactions to what happens, but mostly the story initiates the movement of the fictional tale. The author is answering the question, “What happened?”

Where do authors come up with the plots for their stories? A person who reads classic Literature might differentiate plots as either Tragedy or Comedy. In a tragic story all events in the story lead to a horrible moment of failure for the central character. This results in death or misery. In a comic story, on the other hand, there is a happy ending and all of the parts of the story lead to a satisfying ending. I have seen dark comedies where it is so sad that it becomes funny. There are types of plots that also fall under epic and romance literature. More on these distinctions in next post.

There is a structure to plot that most people follow in the traditional Western world of storytelling.

  • Exposition
  • Rising action
  • Climax
  • Falling action
  • Conclusion

Where in the story these parts take place make for discussion and for study. All stories possess these parts. The exposition sets up the tale. After reading the exposition, you will hopefully want to read more. The basic idea of the story, its characters and setting are introduced. In the rising action, conflict is tightened. More and more complications happen in the characters’ struggles. Then, when everything seems to be about to explode, there is a climax or a turning point in the story that leads to falling action. The conclusion happens when all of the problems created during the rising action are resolved.

Exercises:

  1. Choose a story that you like and identify the parts of the plot. If you really get ambitious, you can identify the characters motivations.
  2. Pick a story of the family and write it out as a short story. Identify the type of story that it is.
  3. Look up James Baldwin, Joyce Carol Pages and Tim O’Brien to read something.

Thank you for this time. The essay on “Deep Eddy” should be up shortly. Thanks for sticking around.

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