Short Fiction Quiz and Discussion

timer Asked: Dec 28th, 2017
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In this section you will be required to complete the following tasks:

1. Carefully read the stories and assignments outlined in The Readings folder. We will have quizzes and writing assignments based upon these assignments so take your time and take notes.

A. For this section, please read the following stories in the course text The Story and Its Writer: An Introduction to Short Fiction Compact 9th Edition by Ann Charters ISBN-10: 1457665557 ISBN-13: 978-1457665554:

  • Sherman Alexie's biography and story, "The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven," pg. 9
  • Toni Cade Bambara's biography and story, "The Lesson," p. 55
  • ZZ Packer's biography and story, "Brownies," pg. 740
  • John Updike's biography and story, "A&P" p. 831

2. Watch the interview with author, Sherman Alexie, using the web link provided.

3. Complete the quizzes on the required readings. You will only have 15 minutes to complete the assignment, so please be familiar with the readings and the literary terminology we covered in Section 1. Will send you course sign in info to complete quizzes. Please message me after you accept so I can send you course info sign in.

4. Re-read the pdf on "Plot" in section one, carefully noting the way conflict may help shape a story. Conflict drives a story. It forces the characters into action, and the suspense the conflict creates keeps the audience reading to find out what happens.

In literature there are two general types of conflict:

Internal conflict takes place inside a character when they are forced to wrestle with a decision or choice. Internal conflicts can deal with a character trying to figure out some aspect of their identity or they may involve a character having to make a difficult choice.

External conflict takes place between characters or between a character and the outside world. External conflicts can manifest as disagreements between spouses, fistfights between siblings, struggles between employees and their bosses, the possibilities are endless. External conflicts can also manifest as a character facing some sort of challenge: the rent is due, there is a mountain to climb, a crime to commit, a test to take, etc.

Many stories will contain either internal or external conflicts, but the best stories will utilize a blend of both.

For this week's discussion board, I want you to specifically identify the internal and external conflicts of three stories in the reading list, using quoted material as evidence to your claims where possible. Look over the pdf on Plot in Section 1 and use this to help you identify whether the conflicts in the stories are character vs. character, character vs. society, character vs. nature, character vs. fate, or character vs. machine. Notice how the stories this week tend to focus on conflicts of race and social class. You should take at least a paragraph to outline your analysis of the conflict in each story and you should utilize quotes from the text with MLA style documentation. Once you have completed this writing assignment, I would like you to first turn it in to the Discussion Board Pre Post drop box, where it will be checked for originality and plagiarism, and then turn it in to the Section 3 Discussion Board below that. You do not need to wait after submitting it to the drop box, simply submit it to the drop box, then to the discussion board.

PLOT PLOT: what happens—the outline of events that the writer uses to develop the theme of the story. Short stories are, of necessity, open-ended at both ends. Plot constitutes the action of the story. It is a series of episodes that moves through three stages of development—beginning, middle, and end. The actual events within the story, though, do NOT have to occur in chronological order! Plot generally takes it impetus from conflict. CONFLICT: the basic opposition or tension that sets the plot of a short story in motion; it engages the reader, builds suspense or mystery, and arouses expectations for events to follow. Conflict is a clash of actions, ideas, desire, or wills. This conflict can be physical, mental, emotional, or moral. INTERNAL CONFLICT: character vs. him/herself (a character has a problem deciding what to do in a particular situation) EXTERNAL CONFLICT: There are five basic types of external conflict: 1. character vs. character (one character has a problem with one or more of the other characters) 2. character vs. society (a character has a problem with some element of society: the school, the law, the accepted way of doing things, etc.) 3. character vs. nature (a character has a problem with some natural occurrence: a snowstorm, or any other element of nature) 4. character vs. fate (a character has to battle what seems to be an uncontrollable problem. Whenever the problem seems to be a strange or unbelievable coincidence, fate can be considered the cause of the conflict) 5. character vs. machine (a character has to confront technology or other elements of human creation –as opposed to natural or divine creation) THE MOST EFFECTIVE STORIES USE INTERNAL CONFLICT AND (at least) ONE OF THE EXTERNAL CONFLICTS! ARISTOTLE’S PLOT STRUCTURE Aristotle: (384-322 B.C.) a philosopher noted for his works on logic, metaphysics, ethics, politics, and aesthetics. He diagrammed a story's plot using an inverted checkmark. CLIMAX (the turning point; the highest moment of action) * * * * * * FALLING ACTION * * * *RESOLUTION (How are things settled? * RISING ACTION Does not have to be neat and perfect!) (Motivated by a character’s WANTS & DESIRES!) EXPOSITION (Beginning of Conflict) 1. Exposition: that part of the structure that sets the scene, introduces and identifies characters, establishes the situation at the beginning of the narrative (although additional exposition is often scattered throughout the story). Contemporary stories set forth the characters wants and desires here. 2. Rising Action: events that lead up to the climax; each event should complicate, develop, and intensify the conflict. [May include Foreshadowing: presentation of material in a work in such a way that later events are prepared for and/or Flashbacks: a break in the chronological sequence of a story made to deal with earlier events.] 3. Climax: also called the “Crisis”; the moment at which the plot reaches its point of greatest emotional intensity; it is also the turning point, directly precipitating the story’s conclusion/resolution. **The crisis could be a moment of EPIPHANY: a term coined by James Joyce that means a moment of transcendental illumination when reality is no longer hidden by the veil of “illusions” that make up the structure we daily accept as “the world.” 4. Falling Action: the moments in which the tension subsides and the plot moves toward its conclusion. 5. Resolution: conclusion—records the outcome of the conflict and establishes some new equilibrium. FREYTAG’S PLOT STRUCTURE Gustav Freytag: a Nineteenth Century German novelist who saw common patterns in the plots of stories and novels and developed a diagram to analyze them (using Aristotle’s terms). He diagrammed a story's plot using a pyramid. 1. Exposition:: setting the scene. The writer introduces the characters and setting, providing description and background. 2. Inciting Incident:: something happens to begi begin n the action. A single event usually signals the beginning of the main conflict. The inciting incident is sometimes called 'the complication'. 3. Rising Action:: the story builds and gets more exciting. 4. Climax:: the moment of greatest tension in a story. This is often the most exciting event. It is the event that the rising action builds up to and that the falling action follows. 5. Falling Action:: events happen as a result of the climax and we know that the story will soon end. 6. Resolution: the characterr solves the main problem/conflict or {rarely} someone solves it for him or her. 7. Dénouement: (a French term, pronounced: day day-noo-moh) the ending. At this point, any remaining secrets, questions or mysteries which remain after the resolution are solved by b the characters or explained by the author. Sometimes the author leaves us to think about the THEME or future possibilities for the characters. You can think of the dénouement as the opposite of the exposition: instead of getting ready to tell us the story ry by introducing the setting and characters, the author is getting ready to end it with a final explanation of what actually happened and how the characters think or feel about it. This can be the most difficult part of the plot to identify, as it is ofte often very closely tied to o the resolution.

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