This exercise is used in my ENG 1002 course to draw out better understanding of a choice short story; however, the intended outcome of this exercise can be used in other ways such as narrowing down a research topic, considering poetry/drama selections, or considering classical or contemporary novels. Here is the spring 2017 version of this exercise:
Using the short story you believe you’ll use for your Fiction Essay assignment, please consider the following:
- Think about the biographical information you know about the author. Does that information inform your interpretation or assumptions about the story? How does that information provide cultural context? If you don’t know biographical information, do you think some research could help you better understand the story; how and why?
- What are the main character’s two most prominent character traits? Think of a moment in the story that showcases each of those traits.
- The chosen outcome or ending of a story is usually a meaningful moment for authors in that it can either inspire readers to question the outcome or consider the outcome’s impact on the main character(s). Examine how the ending of the story could have been different, and how a different outcome could change the meaning of the story. Note how your conclusions often lead to a meaning or interpretation of the story.
- Unlike the title of Disney’s Aladdin that’s simply the name of the main character, Disney’s Frozen helps clarify or define Elsa’s emotional state as well as her relationship with her sister, the only important person in her life. None of the story options has a title that functions like Aladdin‘s, so does the title of your short story add more meaning to the story or define the main meaning of the story? Explore your thoughts and/or isolate a moment in the story that supports your thoughts.