English 281/282

Response Papers

Write a 500 – 600 word paper that explores some technical issue in one of the short stories we have read so far, from the point of view of a practicing writer.

Suggested Approaches

There are a number of ways you can approach this task, but however you do, keep in mind two things: first, you must consider technique—form—not merely content; and second, you should write from your position as a writer, personally engaged with the issues you are discussing.

The paper is to be short—500 – 600 words (about two pages). In it, you should explore how a certain author approaches a particular task in a story we have read. Thus, for example, you might look at how an author develops characters, at the use of dialogue, the choice of a particular story form (short short, gothic, realistic, etc.) or the use of the narrator. Any technique, from sentence structure to narrative structure, is a possible topic.

There are different ways you can go about this. You might pick something you loved, and try to figure out what made you love it. You might pick something you hated, and ditto. You might think about a problem you’ve been having with one of your stories, and look for a similar challenge in one of the authors we’ve read, asking yourself how that author did (or didn’t do) what you’re trying to do. You might pick a particular technical decision—say, making a minor character the narrator instead of the main character—and ask what would have happened if a different choice had been made.

If you’re feeling especially ambitious, you might want to consider some of the critical work we’ve read using that as a way to think about the author you have in mind.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to see me. The main thing to remember is, you should use this paper as an opportunity to figure out something that matters to you as a writer, and express it in writing.