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West Chester University

Spring 2006 and Fall 2005

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Course Syllabi and Announcements
  LIT 165 Syllabus
  LIT 165 Announcements and Assignments
  WRT 120 Syllabus
  WRT 120 Announcements and Assignments

Notebook for Topics in Literature: Imaginary Worlds (Spring 2008)
  A Reading of THE TEMPEST

Notebook for Topics in Literature: Rites of Passage (Spring 2006)
  Goals of the Course
  Fundamental Questions about Literature
  Valuing Literature
  Critical Thinking and Reading Literature
  Critical Approaches to Literature
  Literature as ART
  Ambiguity
  Approaching the Art of Fiction
  Defining the Short Story
  Evaluating Short Fiction
  Craft of Fiction: PLOT
  Craft of Fiction: CHARACTER
  Small Group Exercise
  ARABY by James Joyce
  WHERE ARE YOU GOING, WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN? by Joyce Carol Oates
  Our RITES OF PASSAGE Theme
  A note about GIRL
  POE and the art of STORY OF A HOUR
  THE YELLOW WALLPAPER
  YOUNG MAN ON SIXTH AVENUE
  Notes on Innovative Fiction
  Assignment Sheet for Paper #1
  Fiction and Ambiguity - Your Questions
  Writing Workshop - Short Fiction
  Poetry Journal Project Assignment Sheet
  LITERARY SYNTHESIS PROJECT
  Defining Poetry
  Reading Poetry
  The Craft of Poetry
  Drama and Tragedy
  Study Questions: DEATH OF A SALESMAN

Notebook for Effective Writing I (Spring 2006)
  Paper #4 Assignment Sheet
  Critical Thinking and Commentary
  Casebook: Evaluating Sources Worksheet
  Selecting Information
  Evaluating Arguments
  CASEBOOK PROJECT Assignment Sheet
  Approaching Persuasive Writing
  Topic Development - Profile Essay
  Generating Ideas for the Profile Essay
  Paper #2 Assignment Sheet
  Profile Exercise
  Analyzing THE FIVE BEDROOM, SIX FIGURE ROOTLESS LIFE
  Objective Writing: Selected Readings
  Writing Workshop: Paper #1
  Expressive Writing in the NYTimes
  Writing Effective Introductions and Conclusions
  Paper #1: IDENTITY
  Expressive Writing
  Open Letter Exercise and Examples
  EMERSON on Individuality vs. Conformity
  Literature related to IDENTITY
  Understanding the 'Rhetorical Situation'

Go Exploring
  Weblog for WRT 120
  Writing Assistance on the Web
  Blackboard at WCU
  WCU Homepage
  WCU's Francis Harvey Green Library

Notebook for Topics in Literature: Imaginary Worlds (Fall 2005)
  One Last Look at Imaginary Worlds
  Franz Kafka's BEFORE THE LAW
  Analyzing WAITING FOR GODOT
  Approaching WAITING FOR GODOT
  Paper #3: Assignment Sheet
  Paper #4: Independent Project
  The Problem of Stability in BRAVE NEW WORLD
  UTOPIA/DYSTOPIA Links
  Analyzing Huxley's BRAVE NEW WORLD
  Defining Utopia
  Embarking on Huxley's BRAVE NEW WORLD
  A Reading of Shakespeare's THE TEMPEST
  From today's news (11/3/05)
  Assignment Sheet for Paper #2
  Goodbye to Dante's Imaginary World
  Stepping Through Dante's Inferno: Cantos 10-34
  Stepping Through Dante's Inferno: Cantos 1-10
  INFERNO: Questions/Analysis: Cantos 32-34
  INFERNO: Questions/Analysis: Cantos 18-31
  INFERNO: Questions for Analysis: Cantos 12-17
  INFERNO: Structure
  INFERNO: Questions for Analysis: Cantos 1-5
  INFERNO: Analyzing Canto 1
  Relating to Dante's Inferno
  Approaching Dante's DIVINE COMEDY
  A Little Help with Dante's INFERNO
  Assignment Sheet for Paper #1
  Notes on LEAF BY NIGGLE
  Responses to LEAF BY NIGGLE
  ON FAIRY STORIES: An Essay by Tolkien
  Notes on Axolotl
  Reading Ovid's Tales
  From Myth to Literature: Approaching Ovid's Tales
  Notes on THE EYE OF THE GIANT
  Functions of the Genesis Tales
  Analyzing Mythic Tales
  Defining Mythology
  Filtering the Introduction to FANTASTIC WORLDS
  Commentary on LA BELLE DAME SANS MERCI by Keats
  Commentary on DARKNESS by Byron
  Handout: Imagination Poems Set
  What is Imagination?
  Our Course Theme: Imaginary Worlds
  LIT 165 Assignments: Fall 2005
  LIT 165 Announcements: Fall 2005
  Imaginary Worlds: Course Syllabus

Notebook for Effective Writing I (Fall 2005)
  Paper #4: Independent Thinking/Reading/Writing
  Casebook Preparation Checklist
  Casebook Assignment Schedule
  Evaluating Sources for the Casebook
  Casebook Project Assignment Sheet
  Notes on Rational Argument
  Argument
  Assignment Sheet: Objective Writing
  Reviewing Elements of the Profile Essay
  Writing the Profile Essay
  Readings: Objective Writing
  Assignment Sheet: Expressive Writing
  Rubric for Evaluation of Writing
  About SKIN DEEP
  Emerson on Individuality vs. Conformity
  Mind-map: Identity
  Understanding the 'Rhetorical Situation'
  Assignments Page
  Announcements Page
  WRT 120 Course Syllabus for Fall 2005

ENG Q20: Basic Writing

Go Exploring
  Weblog for WRT 120
  Writing Assistance on the Web
  Blackboard at WCU
  WCU Homepage
  WCU's Francis Harvey Green Library

 
The Craft of Short Fiction: PLOT

Image courtesty of Glenn Elert of hypertextbook.com

PRINTER FRIENDLY


The criteria you brainstormed together in class can also be expressed in an organized way that reflects how most of the comments you made address the different elements of form.  Some of your comments focused on effects, but many of them had to do with the how well the writer  was able to “craft” the story.  When we observe the effect of a short story, we can also observe the ways a writer has practiced a craft that somehow manages to achieve that effect. What are some of the elements of a short story writer’s craft, and how do your criteria observe them?  A few of the elements you noticed were plot, character, theme, and style.

PLOT
This is the element of the story that seems to be “keeping our attention,” although there could be other forces at work as well.  You might say a story’s plot is well paced or poorly paced; it might seem to move too fast or too slow, or just right.  Or you might say a story’s plot is suspenseful in some way.  The action might be external or internal—things might be happening around the character or within the character.  You might apply an analytical eye to the plot and break it down, observing plot elements like exposition and foreshadowing, the conflict, the complications that arise, the dilemma, the crisis, the epiphany, the resolution, the falling action.  

What’s a definition of plot?   Plot is the artistic arrangement of events in a story; it’s the causal sequence of events that unfold.

Plot is a lot like the Buddhist law of karma; it operates on the premise that everything occurs as a result of cause and effect.  Things in a story seem to happen for a reason, and figuring out these reasons is satisfying.  It gives us a sense of meaningfulness, of order that is different from real life.  Real life is not a plot.  Things are happening all the time, but we don’t always see the reasons why they are happening.  We may even feel there’s no reason.  That may leave us with a sense of meaninglessness.  But art is all about meaning, about supplying meaning.  Plot contributes to the meaningfulness of a story by helping us answer one of our all-time favorite questions:  “Why?”

Many of your criteria related to plot: a story should have a good beginning and ending; it shouldn’t be confusing; it should be suspenseful; it should show a conflict or struggle; it shouldn’t be too predictable or too far-fetched; it shouldn’t be too slow to develop…. These are all comments related to the element of plot.  

Can the stories you’ve read so far survive this kind of close analysis?  

 

 

 

     

 


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