Composition and Conversation
We like to
tell stories to ourselves to make sense of our life.
Don't we do
that every night when we dream?
From Free-Writing to Revision
Your Main Idea Seen from Different Perspectives
Perl's Composing Guidelines
Another possible start:
an emotion to stimulate an idea.
Remember. Feel. Go back to your storehouse of personal sensory
experiences. Dredge up the details and emotion of some half-forgotten
event. Perhaps you can remember the anguish of a moment long ago
when others seemed for some reason to forget you. Perhaps you still
feel loneliness or fear or pain or delight from some experience you once
had. . . " (West 274)
Making your Story Concrete: Effective Presentation
After you get your
story out, you should start to examine what your main idea is (which originally
is a "felt sense" in the free-writing stage.) Here are some
questions for you to approach the main idea:
I want to write THIS story, but not the others? What sense
do I make of the story?
perspective do I present the story and my main idea? What other perspectives
can I take?
tell a story of your past, do you clearly remember the feelings and perspective
you had then?
Do I want
to stay with the chosen perspective or change another one? Do I want
to use multiple perspectives? If so, how do I do it, with dialogue,
with asterisks (***) or with interior monologue?
want to be creative, you can even consider using an unreliable narrator
or a second-person ("you") narrator.
You can also tell
the story to your friend or groupmate and ask him/her to re-tell it to
you (say back). See if s/he takes a different perspective than you
do, and then you can re-consider the effectiveness of the perspective you
After you are
done with the second draft and have a clear sense of your main idea, you
can then consider the effectiveness of your presentation.
mean appropriate use of details (sensory details, description, and dialogue).
that description can slow down your pace, so you do not do it all the time
in your story. In other words, usually in a story, you want to take
turns to "show" and "tell."
is usually very effective.
want to spell out your main idea at the end? Or just use a concrete
detail to suggest it?
In order for a narration to be interesting
and meaningful, it must have the following elements:
1. Emotion. Writing
is really such hard work that people ought not to bother writing something
with which they are not emotionally involved. What emotions are apparent
in each selection? How strongly is the narrator involved? What
indications are there in the models of strong emotional involvement?
2. Action. Something
happens; that is tension increases and conflict intensifies as various
events occur. In simple stories, the action is very often physical--fights,
calamities, contests--but in more subtle stories the action may be emotional
or intellectual. The action, however, whether it is exterior and
visible or interior and invisible, causes the situation to change so that
conditions are different at the end of the story from the way they were
at the beginning. This movement, or development, is important.
3. Suspense. Each passage
suggests that something is going to happen so that the reader eagerly
anticipates the outcome of these events. to build suspense, you plant
seeds that hint at conflicts, problems, mysteries. You promise the
reader that you will show the plants in bloom and all conflicts, problems,
and mysteries solved at the end of the story. suspense is a vital
factor in building and retaining the interest of the reader.
4. Structure, or order. Events
in real life happen in a definite order--the order of time. But in
discovering meaning in the events or in imposing a meaning on them, the
writer may need to arrange then differently from the order in which they
originally occurred. Whether writers use straight chronological order
or determine a new order, they are going structure to their narrative in
order to heighten suspense and make incidents and events more meaningful.
5. Point or purpose.
Although everyone loves a story and thousands of narratives
are written and read only for entertainment, the best stories have a purpose
or meaning of some kind. Indeed, even those written and told for
their own sakes, often make some kind of statement o human beings, human
values, or some aspect of life. To get the most satisfaction from
the effort that goes in to writing a narrative, select an incident in which
you can discover a meaning or an event on which you can impose meaning.
Sometimes the meaning is an overall impression or attitude. At other
times it is an idea that can be expressed in a single sentence. What
are the meanings of the models?
6. Point of view.
In every narrative, someone (or something) tells the story, and this person
ot animal or thing marks the story with his or her personal imprint.
Imagine how much different the story of the " Three Little Pigs" or of
" Little Red Riding Hood" would be if, in each case, the wolf told the
story! If you will probably use " I" o "we", which is called first-person
narrator. Occasionally, you may write a first-person narrative when
you are relating events in the life of a fictional character, rather than
yourself. In those cases, you have "assumed a persona," or taken
on the role of another person, much as an actor does. You then speak
consistently from that person's point of view--seeing things as he or she
sees them, reacting as that person would, and even using the language appropriate
for the character. Sometimes, when you are reading narratives, it
is difficult to separate the author from the persona he or she is "speaking
through." For example. Ernest Hemingway really did participate in
the Spanish Civil War and go on safaris in Africa. Yet sometimes
when one of his characters tells about those experiences, ut us a persona,
or imagined character, rather than Hemingway who is speaking is sometimes
important in getting the meaning of a narrative. Another point of
view often used in narration is third-person narrator. When
telling a story from that point of view, you relate events as though you
were an onlooker, and you use the pronouns "he," "she," "it," or "they."
Of course, you already know that when you are telling a story that making
up a story, then you are presenting fiction.
&. Effective description.
Concrete details create images, or pictures, in the readers' minds and
make the events in the narrative come alive. (West
West. William W.
Developing Writing Skills. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1996.