For this writing activity, we will focus on how the theme of a story can be instrumental in shaping its progression and providing an overall effect on a reader.
To begin, think back on all of the characters we have met in the various short stories we’ve read:
*The young couple Della and Jim from “The Gift of the Magi” (524)
* The ghost, Berenice, and Jason from “Sonata for Harp and Bicycle” (541)
* Doodle, his brother, and the scarlet ibis from “The Scarlet Ibis” (554)
* Granny, her husband, and the reporters from “Blues Ain’t No Mockin’ Bird” (571)
* Uncle Marcos and Clara from “Uncle Marcos” (577)
* Leon, Ken, Teofilo, and the priest from “The Man to Send Rain Clouds” (590)
* Don Trine from “The Harvest” (617).
* The girl from the girl/granny group stories.
Your task is to pick at least three of the above characters and write a 400-500 word short story that takes place (at least partially) in the setting of the above image of a town common in the evening. In addition to using characterization and setting to fuel your tale, you also want to shape your narrative around a specific theme.
Here are some “theme starters” to get you going: Ambition, Jealousy, Beauty, Loneliness, Betrayal, Love, Courage, Loyalty, Duty, Perseverance, Fear, Prejudice, Freedom, Suffering, Happiness, Truth, Greed. Remember that theme is the insight, idea, or message an author is trying to convey. The theme often reveals the author's thoughts about a topic.
Take one of the above theme starters and develop it into a message or idea that will shape your story. Examples of developed themes include “greed destroys,” “love is blind,” “loyalty is rewarded,” “never give up despite the odds,” “human nature is good,” “human nature is evil,” “things aren’t always as they appear to be (don’t jump to conclusions),” “people are afraid of change,” etc.
As with other short stories we’ve written, keep in mind the five plot points, and remember to use dialogue to give your characters voice and to keep your narrative fresh and fun to read.
This is a two-part homework assignment.
Due Friday, Jan. 16th
* Three characters selected with a two-to three-sentence justification for each
* One paragraph on your interpretation of the town common image as your setting. Will you interpret it literally or liberally? (Think back to how you reacted to the image of the horsemen. You can make a similar or different interpretative choice.)
* A theme selection, along with a two to three sentence explanation of why you chose what you did.
* A rough outline of the five plot points you expect your story to take. Please write at least one sentence for each point.
You will have time on Friday to share your ideas with classmates and further refine your story conceptions. It is OK – perhaps even encouraged – to make changes before and while you write your miniature tale, which will be due at the start of class on Monday, Jan. 20th.