Discussion: Exploring the Concept of a “Story”

In Chapter 2 of Shaping the Story, Mark Baechtel observes that “The reader’s mind is the writer’s partner…” (p. 25). The ideas you bring to your writing are inextricably tied to your audience, since you will be constantly keeping them in mind as you write. In what ways can fiction affect its readers, and how do established writers use creative writing elements to impact their audiences? For this Discussion, you will examine elements of short stories to prepare you to begin your own short story, keeping your readers in mind.

To prepare for this Discussion:

  • Review the assigned portions of Part I introduction and Chapter 1 in Shaping the Story, and begin to think about where your story will come from and what will make it a story.       

Review the following short stories: 

  • Sarah Cornwell, Pretty Little Things in in Shaping the Story.
  • James Joyce, “Araby”
  • Consider the various definitions of a “story” presented in these readings. How do these definitions relate to your own understanding of what a story is?
  • Think about an author’s reasons for telling the story.
  • What type of story is the author telling?

With these thoughts in mind:

By Day 3

Post 1 to 2 paragraphs describing the short story elements in each story. Be sure to include answers to the following questions:

  • Where does the arc of the story occur?
  • How is the story intended to affect the reader?
  • Be sure to cite at least one example from the text readings to support your answer.

Be sure to support your ideas by connecting them to the week’s Learning Resources, or something you have read, heard, seen, or experienced.

Read a selection of your colleagues’ postings.

Respond to at least one of your colleagues’ postings in one or more of the following ways:

  • Ask a probing question.
  • Share an insight from having read your colleague’s posting.
  • Offer and support an opinion.
  • Validate an idea with your own experience.
  • Make a suggestion.
  • Expand on your colleague’s posting.

Return to this Discussion in a few days to read the responses to your initial posting. Note what you have learned and/or any insights you have gained as a result of the comments your colleagues made.

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