How to Analyze a Story

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16-10-2007, 11:28
 
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How to Analyze a Story






to Analyze a Story


While analyzing poetry, you have only a small amount of primary material with which to work. While analyzing a story, you have expanded the original source. A story is a short narrative that encapsulates generally a few major themes. It is not a novel, which is a long narrative, full of characters, ideas, themes, and plots. A story (or "short story") is a narrative that essentially focuses on one plot and a few characters. Because of the narrow focus on the original writing, your analysis will be much more focused, as well.
When you begin to analyze a story, follow these steps in order to avoid confusion.

1. Read over the story several times

One quick read or even one thorough read is never sufficient to analyzing a story. Because stories are rather short, you will be able to find time to read the story several times. Analyzing a story you only sort of know will do you no good. Your analysis will be shoddy and it will come across through your writing (or presentation).

2. Discuss the story with a teacher or peer

Once you have read the story sufficiently to understand it as best you can, it is helpful to discuss the story with another person. If this story was assigned in school, you will probably be discussing it in class, where you will have the guidance of a teacher and opinions of several other students. More brains are always better than one; consequently, open your mouth and ask your questions. Bring your analysis into the forefront of a conversation so that you can discuss ideas. You may discover that you have found a brilliant new way to view a story. Or, you may discover that your analysis is so far off track that you will need to re-read the story to understand what is truly occurring within.

3. Select a specific theme

Stories, like novels, essays, and poems, can carry several themes. You must select one to focus on in your analysis. The beauty of analyzing a story is that it will not be overwrought with too much symbolism or too much plot. It should be fairly easy to select a specific idea to follow. Once you have selected the theme you want to analyze in the story, go on to the next step.

4. Research that theme

Once you have selected the theme of the story for your analysis, then you must begin the analysis. Go through the story several times and find at least three examples of your theme. Think about them and how they apply to the characters, plot, and real life. If you cannot bring three examples of a theme together into an overall analysis (message), then perhaps you should start from the beginning and select a new theme. It is important to remember that you must stay with the same theme throughout your analysis. If you jump around topics, then your analysis will be weak in several areas.

5. Write an outline

Like any analysis, essay, or research paper, an outline is vital. It is the skeleton of your analysis, the scaffolding that holds your ideas together. It is your organizational crutch. Your outline for the story analysis should begin with an introduction (including a thesis statement), followed by three examples of the theme in your story, and a conclusion bringing all the examples of the themes together. This conclusion will be significant in an analysis, for you will be putting together what you have just explained into a greater con************. The conclusion is the ultimate analysis of the story and should leave the audience/readership understanding the story in a new light.

6. Write the paper

Now that you have all your themes and ideas written down in a nice outline, you are ready to write your analysis. While it initially seemed like a daunting task, because you have done all the work already, you can now simply place all the work together into a nice organized and complete analysis.
If your story analysis is meant to be an oral presentation, follow the same steps. You will still need an outline, as presentations are no different than written papers in *********************. The only difference is presentation. Your outline will serve as your notes. It will be your guide as you speak to your teacher and class

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story analysis



Name:_________________________________

Date:____________________________
1. Title_____________________________________________ _______________________
2. Author____________________________________________ ______________________
3. Hero or Heroine (Protagonist)_____________________________________ _________
4. Protagonists Character Traits (What is he/she like?)
__________________________________________________ ________________________
__________________________________________________ ________________________
5. Other Main Characters and their traits (For each one list their name and one
word that describes them. Instead of general de******ions like nice and bad, try to
find words that really describe the characters, such as hardworking or
disrespectful.)
__________________________________________________ ________________________
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__________________________________________________ ________________________
6. Central Problem (What does the main character face?)________________________
__________________________________________________ ________________________
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__________________________________________________ ________________________
__________________________________________________ ________________________
__________________________________________________ ________________________
__________________________________________________ ________________________


7. Obstacles (things to overcome in order to solve problem mentioned above). What
prevents the main character from accomplishing his/her goal?
1. __________________________________________________ ___________________
2. __________________________________________________ ___________________
3. __________________________________________________ ___________________
4. __________________________________________________ ___________________
8. Setting __________________________________________________ ________________
__________________________________________________ _________________________
__________________________________________________ _________________________
__________________________________________________ _________________________
9. How does the protagonist solve the problem? _________________________________
__________________________________________________ _________________________
__________________________________________________ _________________________
__________________________________________________ _________________________
10. Plot line (no more than 5 sentences). ________________________________________
__________________________________________________ _________________________
__________________________________________________ _________________________
__________________________________________________ _________________________
__________________________________________________ _________________________
__________________________________________________ _________________________
__________________________________________________ _________________________
11. Major theme (authors message). Why did the author write the story?
__________________________________________________ _________________________
__________________________________________________ _________________________
__________________________________________________ _________________________




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Critical Analysis of a Short Story

To write an effective critical analysis, you must first be sure that you understand the question that has been posed, and all literary terms that you have been asked to address. Once you feel you understand the question, reread the piece of literature, making notes. Then look at the notes you've made, consider what connections you can make between observations, and reconsider the question. Try to formulate a rough thesis statement (your "claim"). Now try to select those pieces of evidence that you feel you can most convincingly use to support the claim you made. Next, try to formulate a good introduction, that

names the work discussed and the author.
provides a very brief plot summary.
relates some aspect of that plot to the topic you have chosen to address.
provides a thesis statement.
indicates the way you plan to develop your argument (support your claim).


Now proceed to introduce and discuss the evidence you mentioned in your introduction, in the order in which you mentioned it. Ensure that you deal with each kind of evidence in a paragraph of its own, and that you introduce the topic of each paragraph with a carefully-focused topic sentence. Also ensure that you end each paragraph with a concluding sentence that sums up the thrust of that paragraph's argument and possibly paves the way for the next piece of evidence to be discussed. (Alternatively, you can begin the next paragraph with a transitional phrase that links the new piece of evidence with the one you have just summarized.)

Finally, write a conclusion that restates your thesis (but using different words), incorporates a brief restatement of your key evidence, and provides a sense of closure. A good closing technique is to somehow link the claim you have made about this particular piece of literature with the author's general style or preoccupations, or to suggest some way in which the topic you have just discussed relates more generally to some aspect of human existence




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Analyze the characters

To find out what makes a character interesting. .
A. A search for the objectives which the character seeks in the play.

What is the character's main goal?

What factors stand in thw way of his achieving his goal?

Does this goal change during the play?

What are the character's goals in particular scenes?

How do they resist to his long-range goal?

B. A concern for the basic motivations which guide the character in his attempts to fulfill his goal.

Why does the character desire to achieve his goal?

What methods does he employ to attain his goal?

Why did he choose these methods?

C. A determination of the major factors which contribute to the total development of the character

What changes take place in the character throughout the play/

Do these changes appear as variations in the character's physical condition, mental state, emotions, moods, or goals?

How does the character react to new situations?

How do these situations affect him?

D. A discovery of the influence of other characters on the character being analyzed.

How does the character feel toward other individual characters?

How does he express his feelings toward these characters?

How do his reactions differ from one character to another?

How do these relationships influence or otherwise relate to the character's long-range goal?

E. An awareness of the proper emotional responses desired from the audience.

What empathetic response does the character arouse in you?

What degree of sympathy is felt for the character?

F. Physical condition and appearance.

What is the character's age? Is this indicated through the character's de******ion by the playwright, the character's own lines and actions, or comments made by other character's?

Is the character short or tall, lean or heavy, strong or weak, healthy or sickly?

Are the character's movements fluent or graceful or jerky and awkward?

Are the face and figure of a pleasing aspect or not?

Is a specific physical appearance demanded?

Are there any indications given as to the character's manner of speech?

Is colloquialism predominant and are there many common mispronunciations, or has the speech been trained? What about his speech reveals his character?

G. Psychological Attributes:

Is the character generally happy, cheerful and optimistic? Or is he pessimistic and cynical?

Is the character emotionally mature or immature?

Are certain emotions stronger than others, if so, which ones are they?

Is the character aware of emotional strengths and weaknesses, and does this have any bearing upon his emotional stability?

Is the role intelligent or unintelligent, fast or slow in thought?

Is the character purposeful and ***************, or does a state of aimlessness and slackness prevail?

Does the character act rationally or does he act first and think later?

How does the character act on and respond to his environment? Does he more toward life? Withdraw from it? Or fight against it







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The Importance Of Setting In A Short Story




The Importance of Setting Setting is the psychological time or place in a story. Setting plays an important role in the success of stories. Three examples of this importance can be explained through To Build a Fire by Jack London and The Cask of the Amontillado by Edgar Allan Poe and A Worn Path by Eudora Welty. The settings used in these stories set the readers mood. A good writers depiction of setting puts the reader right into the story. To Build a Fire by Jack London takes place on a trail in the Yukon. This setting is vital to the story because nature, the cold and the snow become the the main characters worst enemy. Nature is flatly indifferent to mankinds survival. The cold will not change because of man nor does it care about human existence. The temperature in this story is set at a frigid seventy-five degrees below zero. The main character is a man who is walking a trail by himself trying to make it to a camp near Henderson Creek where other men are staying. He was warned not to go out into the cold, especially alone, if it is fifty degrees below zero or more. The man is ignorant to reality. His only companion is a dog who is almost smarter than the man. The dog knows what he must do to survive and is the only one who succeeds. The man has to build a fire in order to dry his boot that had gotten wet. At one point in the story, the man wants to gut the dog and put his hands inside the carcass for warmth. The last fire that the man builds is what kills him. The fire is put out by snow that has fallen down from a pine tree branch. The man freezes to death. He dies with dignity. Setting is very important to this story, without it, the reader would not learn of the common ignorant human behavior when it comes to survival in an indifferent environment. The setting of this story does not regard the man as important and is unconcerned with his suffering and death. Mankind can not control nature and our survival in it. We can heed warnings though and not chance our survival in horrible natural weather conditions. Setting in The Cask of the Amontillado by Edgar Allan Poe plays an important role with the development of horror and tension necessary for readers to feel. This story is perfectly set in catacombs with the walls lined with human remains. The cavern walls are also described to have white *********-work. Told through first-person narration by our main character, Montresor, it is a story about revengeful murder. Montresor deviously leads his friend Fortunato through the vaults down the long and winding staircase to the damp grounds of the catacombs of the Montresors. A bottle of wine is opened and Fortunato drinks to the buried that repose around us as the scheming Montresor drinks to his friends long life. The intense de******ion of setting in this story is very suspenseful and eerie. Poe describes the men passing long walls of piled skeletons, with casks and puncheons intermingling, into the inmost recesses of the catacombs. Montresor buries his friend inside the wall of the catacomb and finally finishes his work around midnight. The last line of the story is In pace requiescat which means may he rest in peace. The setting is absolutely necessary to base this story on. The catacombs of death provide an appropriate setting for the storys suspense and inevitable ending. There is situational irony in the fact that the crime takes place during a celebration, that Fortunatos name means good luck, and that Fortunato is dressed like a jester. What is about to happen is just the opposite of what you would expect. Just about everything Montresor says is ironic. He says just the opposite of what he means. He keeps inquiring about Fortunatos health and says he will not die of a cold. The greatest use of irony is when Montresor says he is a member of the masons. Fortunato thinks he means he is of a fellow member of a society when what he really means is that he is a bricklayer about to brick him in for all eternity. This conversation also provides foreshadowing in the story. This is the first clue the reader gets about how Montresor will kill Fortunato. The overall mood of the story is one of impending evil. The ending of the story is filled with suspense. You see Montresor carefully construct each row of stone. At this point Montresor is fully committed to finishing his horrifying deed even at the desperate pleas from Fortunato. When the last brick is set in place, we know Fortunatos fate has been sealed. A Worn Path by Eudora Welty is set in December at the first stirs of morning. The story features main character, Phoenix Jacksons, journey through the woods to a town called Natchez. The story describes Jackson with words such as granny, old Negro woman and a hundred years old. The setting plays an important role in this story with its black imagery. Not only is the tone and the setting draped with a black overtone, but the main character is as well. The setting helps establish the strong theme of dedication, love and selflessness. A horrible dark and scary setting must be traveled by this old woman in order to receive medication for her grandson. The hardships of the setting show us just how dedicated this grandmother is to her grandson. Not only is her vision poor, but at one point in the story she falls down. Phoenix Jackson is a symbol of charity. Her periodic journey is all for her grandson who swallowed lye two to three years ago. The dark and dreary forest setting is a tribute to the theme of maintaining dignity even when physical and mental abilities are diminished. Some critiques say that objects in the setting such as the scarecrow, the vultures and the mourning doves symbolize that the grandson is already dead. This would mean that Jackson is so mentally diminished that she does not even realize this. The term Phoenix is a mythological bird that dies and is reborn out of its own ashes. This is a very symbolic name for the grandmother as this strongly emphasizes her determination. The setting is very significant to the story as it creates a trial for Jackson. Details such as the bushes that grab at her dress, silver grass, the cabin boarded shut, dead trees and the shadows hanging from the oak trees like curtains help explain the hardships of the mission Jackson must complete. She coaches herself through the maze to town and finally makes it to see the nurse with the medication for her grandson. To Build a Fire by Jack London and The Cask of the Amontillado by Edgar Allan Poe and A Worn Path by Eudora Welty are three good examples of how setting plays an important role in a story. The setting of a story helps to outline the general theme. It may even be an important symbol or help develop symbolism. Setting may also able a reader to relate to hardships or situations. This helps the story to become more powerful. The settings used in the three stories above were the foundations of success in these works.




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Plot of the story

A character with a problem.

Every story is about a character trying to deal with some sort of difficulty. Characters who have happy lives, who are ********************* with their lot, and who have achieved their goals are not good fodder for fiction. The people we read about are people in trouble.

The central problem.

Most genre stories can be thought of as revolving around some central problem, or problems. The central problem(s) can be considered to be, in some sense, what the story is "about." Will the mystery be solved? Will the protagonist survive? Will the rebellion succeed?

Begin with a crisis...

Whatever the length you're dealing with, short story or novel, you want to begin with a character in crisis. The reader should find characters in difficulty within the first chapter, the first page, and ideally, the first paragraph. Structurally, it may not be possible to have the story's main problem begin on the first page, but every story should begin with some problem, often with the first line.
...end with a resolution.
If the story is organized around a single central problem, it ends naturally when you've resolved that problem. If the story deals with a series or complex of problems, it ends when the last problem is dealt with, or when all the problems identified as most important are solved. A story can persist as long as there are problems to deal with.

What makes a Story Science Fiction?

The central problem and its con************.
A story is SF when the central problem dealt with by the characters is a science-fictional idea, or when the central problem is resolved by science-fictional means. This means that if the SF elements are removed from the story, either the central problem, or its resolution, will cease to exist, causing the story to collapse.
"If it's a western, it ain't SF."
It is by no means a consensus, but there is a large body of thought that says that a story has to have more than an SF setting to be SF. In other words, if the characters and plot can be successfully transplanted to a non-SF setting, it isn't really SF. If all you're doing is setting a western in a post-apocalyptic setting, you're probably better of simply writing a western.

What is Plot?

Cause and effect. Stimulus and response.
Plot is the structure of events within a story and the causal relationship between them. There is no plot without causality. "Captain Stronghead piloted his spacecraft to Proxima Centauri," is an event with no plot. "Captain Stronghead piloted his spacecraft to Proxima Centauri in order to escape the despotic regime on Earth," has the beginning of a plot.
The causal chain.
The plot of a story is a chain of events, each event the result of some prior events, and the cause of some subsequent events. The plot of a story will extend beyond the bounds of the story itself.

How does Plot develop?

Things get worse.
Up until the resolution of the story's central problem (or up until the resolution of the most dire of the story's problems) the situation should steadily get worse or more difficult for the protagonist. Even if the protagonist's situation objectively improves, which happens in many "rags to riches" stories, the forces arrayed against the character should grow comparably in magnitude. If the protagonist picks up a bat, the antagonist should pick up a knife. If the protagonist picks up a knife, the antagonist should pick up a gun.
The active protagonist.
Not only should the difficulties increase steadily until the climatic moment when the central problem(s) are resolved, but the difficulties should be increased as a result of positive action by the protagonist. Your characters should not sit by and watch the world fall apart, doing nothing. The characters in your story should have an active part in destroying the world around them. Every attempt to solve a problem should make the problem worse, or create a new, more tenacious, problem. Problems can worsen without interference by the characters, but the characters should always be doing something about the problem(s), and what the characters do should worsen or at the very least, change the problem(s) they are trying to solve.
Complicate, Complicate, Complicate
Things getting worse is not a matter of simply increasing the magnitude of the problem. (Discovery of the fact that the asteroid about to hit Earth is 1500km across rather than 500km across.) Things getting worse in a story sense means a proliferation of new problems rippling from the old. (The realization that the technical failures in the escape spacecraft are the result of sabotage.) Complication means that the problem the characters were trying to solve is not quite the same as the problem they actually face.

Character as Plot.

Motivations, desires, goals.
Since plot is not just event, but the casual relationships between events, plot can not be isolated from character. Characters do things for reasons, and those reasons form an indispensable element of plot. Every character in a story desires things to varying degrees, and has personal goals in mind, some of which may not have anything to do with the central problems of a story. Whatever these desires and goals are, they form the basis for your character's motivation to act. You want the characters within your story to be acting from these desires and goals, and not from the external demands of the plot.
Conflict with others.
A great source of difficulty for your characters is when their personal drives are at odds with the central problem in the story. A man whose highest ambition in life is to live a quiet life and raise a family is going to be torn if he is drafted into an army in the middle of a civil war. He will act differently than a man who has a hedonistic lifestyle and whose desire is simply to make each moment as pleasurable and exciting as possible. Placing these two characters together in a combat situation and they will start arguing immediately.
Conflict with self.
Perhaps the greatest source of difficulty for your characters, and the most emotionally satisfying when finally resolved, is when the characters have goals and desires that are mutually exclusive. If both goals are illustrated in the story, and are of comparable importance to the character, the character will be in a constant state of tension that can border on agony. Consider the family man above. Give him a strong sense of justice that has placed him in this civil war to battle against the atrocities that he's seen the enemy perpetrate (perhaps his family was victimized, driving him into the war.) Give him and the hedonist an opportunity to capture enemy soldiers that've been committing such atrocities. Then have the hedonist begin committing similar atrocities upon the enemy soldiers. What does the protagonist do, is he after justice or revenge?

How does Plot create Suspense?








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Plot of the story 2


Certainty of threat.
The first basis of suspense is the foreknowledge that something bad is going to happen. The reader has to anticipate some event for there to be suspense associated with that event. A surprise bombing creates no suspense beforehand, but leads to suspense if it creates an expectation of future bombings. Often, in stories relying heavily on suspense, the reader will be given information that the characters don't have. The reader will be told that a character's car is wired to explode, and then will be given the time to think about the fact as the character walks through the parking garage.
Uncertainty of outcome. The author as evil bastard.
Suspense can be defused completely if the reader is convinced that the author is going to figure some way out for the characters in trouble. This why it is difficult to work up suspense over the fate of a character in any ongoing TV series. (How many times, for all the threats it endured on the show, was the Enterprise really in danger.) If you wish the reader to feel real suspense, you have to convince the reader that you, the writer, are an evil bastard that will, occasionally, follow through on your threats. This means allowing bad things to happen to good characters. If you let the car explode at least once, you let the reader know you could do it again.

Coincidence, Mystery and Surprise.

Coincidence shouldn't make things easier.
Sometimes you can get away with using an accidental confluence of events in a story, such as having otherwise unrelated characters be at the same place at the same time. You can get away with this in two cases. The first is when the fact of the coincidence is one of the initiating forces of the story. (The whole story is the consequence of this chance meeting in an airport.) The second is when the coincidence makes things worse for the protagonist. (The protagonist is trying to sneak out of the country, and the guy he bumps into is a reporter who recognizes his face.) Coincidences seem contrived and false when they're used to help the character. (The guy in the airport is an old college chum who's more than willing to loan our hero the two grand he needs for an airline ticket.) Remember, it's not a coincidence if it is a logical consequence of prior events in the story. (Our hero's at the airport because he has an old college chum who's an airline pilot.)
Lay groundwork for your revelations.
To paraphrase the last point, most events should be a logical consequence of prior events. Mysteries should not be mysterious once solved, and surprises should not be surprising in retrospect. The solution of mysterious events (as in a classic murder mystery) or the surprising revelation, should be as much as possible the result of the bringing together of already known information with some final crucial element that brings the whole into focus.
Never withhold information the reader should know.
Withholding information from the reader is annoying. The reader should always have the following information unless there is a overwhelming reason not to provide it; the identity of the point of view character, where that character is and what that character is doing, and all the relevant background information known to that character that is needed for the reader to understand who the character is, where the character is, and what the character is doing. Holding back these basic elements of information does not create surprise, mystery, or suspense. It creates confusion on the part of the reader, and annoyance when the reader realizes there wasn't a legitimate reason for the writer to be coy.

The payoff and the appearance of inevitability.

A problem resolved is a climatic event.
Whenever a major problem is resolved in some way, you have a climatic point in your story, a point of high tension and drama. When the problem is a major one, or the central one, the climax is comparably major. These events need to be given weight within the ************ comparable to the weight the characters give them. They need to be dealt with in fully developed scenes. There is nothing quite as dissatisfying as having a major problem in the story be dealt with off-screen.
The resolution should feel inevitable, even if it surprises.
This is the same point as "Lay groundwork for your revelations," only more so. The resolution of your story can be thought of the ultimate surprise, the revelation of the central mystery. Even more than the smaller mysteries and surprises, the primary resolution of your story should be the logical coming together of facts and events known to the reader. Inevitability comes, like suspense, from foreknowledge.
Don't dangle threads without dealing with them.
Lastly, when you raise a question or a problem in a story, do so with the intention of eventually dealing with it before the end of a story. Dealing with it can be as simple as an acknowledgment that the problem isn't going to be solved within the space of the story, but the acknowledgment needs to be there or the reader will feel as if the writer simply forgot about it.

A four step exercise in Plot development:
1) Create a character.
2) Give this character a problem to deal with.
3) Imagine at least three different ways this particular character might possibly deal with this particular problem.
4) Pick one (or more) of these options, and imagine at least three different ways it a) wouldn't work, and b) would make the character's situation worse. (Short of killing off the protagonist and ending the story.)
By doing this, you have evolved from a character dealing with a problem, to a character dealing with a worse problem that's directly and causally linked to the first. This is all plotting is; the evolution of the character's difficulties, through the story, until a resolution is reached







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Theme of a Story


When writing a book report you are often asked for the theme of the story.

What is theme?
The theme is the dominant or central idea of the story, or the point the writer is trying to make
It runs throughout the entire story, not just a part of it
It can be a moral issue, but it is not the same as the moral of the story
The main character can learn something from the theme
Events can occur to the main character because of the theme
Books can have more than one theme, but usually one is the main theme while the others are sub-themes
The theme is often a fairly simple idea
The protagonist is usually central to the theme
Often the theme will answer a human question


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oOo  oOo


woooooooooooooow

verey usefull topic

i will read it all

accept my pass

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:
][ ][
woooooooooooooow

verey usefull topic

i will read it all

accept my pass

Dala3




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07:03.

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