So far we have talked about Plot, Setting, Tone, Mood, and Character. Today, we will look at POV-the position from which the story is told. WhyYou ask? Because the POV helps us to understand the author’s intentions. It also influences the method and timing of revealing details to the reader.
Ewrt 30 class 12
EWRT 30 Class 12
AGENDAProject #2 DueTerms Test #2Discussion: “The Most Dangerous Game”Lecture: SuspenseGuided Writing: Fiction
Discussion SubjectGet in new groups to discuss “The MostDangerous Game”
Basic Elements of a Story1. PLOT - the story line; a unified, progressive pattern of action or events in a story2. POINT OF VIEW (POV) - the position from which the story is told3. CHARACTER - Types: person portraying himself or another 1. Characterization: Methods4. SETTING - the time and place of the action in a story5. TONE - the attitude of the author toward his subject or toward the reader6. MOOD - the feeling or state of mind that predominates in a story creating a certain atmosphere
"The Most Dangerous Game," anadventure tale that pits two notorioushunters against one another in a life-and-death competition, is the story for whichRichard Connell is best remembered. Firstpublished in 1924, the story has beenfrequently anthologized as a classicexample of a suspenseful narrativeloaded with action.
Suspense Suspense is created by an uncertainty about what happens next in your story. So–what does happen next? The unexpected, of course. But let’s think back to the basic plot outline to understand how to create uncertainty. The plot of a story is driven by conflict; without a conflict creating tension, you simply don’t have a story. Suspense is the reader’s worry about what will happen because of that conflict.
Begin at the right place Looking over the broad picture of your story, the need for escalation requires that you start at a place of strong conflict, but not so strong that the situation can’t get worse. You must find a strong enough place to create suspense; yet, that exact situation and time in the story must allow for a progression of scenes in which things get worse. In other words, make sure the sequence of scenes makes sense. What is the initial conflict in “The Most Dangerous Game?
HuntingWe should have some good hunting up the Amazon. Great sport,hunting.""The best sport in the world," agreed Rainsford."For the hunter," amended Whitney. "Not for the jaguar.""Dont talk rot, Whitney," said Rainsford. "Youre a big-game hunter, nota philosopher. Who cares how a jaguar feels?""Perhaps the jaguar does," observed Whitney."Bah! Theyve no understanding.""Even so, I rather think they understand one thing--fear. The fear of painand the fear of death.""Nonsense," laughed Rainsford. "This hot weather is making you soft,Whitney. Be a realist. The world is made up of two classes--the huntersand the huntees. Luckily, you and I are hunters.
Add uncertaintyAs you work with the plot and conflicts, search for ways to bring in or to imply uncertainly. Which are scenes of uncertainty in the story?
Uncertainty about the Island"The place has a reputation--a bad one.""Cannibals?" suggested Rainsford."Hardly. Even cannibals wouldnt live insuch a God-forsaken place. But its gotteninto sailor lore, somehow. Didnt you noticethat the crews nerves seemed a bit jumpytoday? [. . .] All I could get out of him was`This place has an evil name amongseafaring men, sir.’
Let readers root for acharacter or characters. Give readers a person to root for. If we care for the characters, we worry more. Good characterization gives us cause to root for a character and his/her eventual success over the conflict. If we know that a woman has been abused, but come out of it and successfully raised two lovely children, then we worry more when she starts dating a man we suspect of being an alcoholic.
Who do we root for in “TheMost Dangerous Game”?Is he round or flat? Dynamic or static?How is he characterized?What drives readers to root for him?
Give the readers a greatvillain Make villains credible, logical, and believable, but not likeable. Readers need to understand why the antagonist is doing what he does, and why he believes his actions are justified and rational.How is Zaroff drawn as a believablecharacter?
"Life is for the strong, to be lived by thestrong, and, if needs be, taken by thestrong. The weak of the world were put hereto give the strong pleasure. I am strong.Why should I not use my gift? If I wish tohunt, why should I not? I hunt the scum ofthe earth: sailors from tramp ships--lassars,blacks, Chinese, whites, mongrels--athoroughbred horse or hound is worth morethan a score of them."
Evoke strong emotionsthrough a critical conflict Make sure the conflict evokes strong emotions. This usually means a conflict that matters in some important way. The possibility of walking through a thicket with thorns is trivial in comparison to a life and death situation. On that continuum of what is at risk, push more towards the “life and death” end to increase suspense. What is the next conflict in “The Most Dangerous Game”? Consider Rainsford and Zaroff’s conversation over dinner.
"But you cant mean--" gasped Rainsford."And why not?”"I cant believe you are serious, GeneralZaroff. This is a grisly joke.”"Why should I not be serious? I am speakingof hunting.”"Hunting? Great Guns, General Zaroff, whatyou speak of is murder."
The conflict must change In some way, as the story progresses, the character’s situation(s) must change, usually by building on the initial conflict. You must ask how things can get worse. Would it be worse at a different time? A different place? With different characters? Or try it from a different stance: what is the worse thing your character would ever have to face? That is the ending scene and how can you back up from there and soften the conflict?
The conflict escalates again Rainsford is in fact confronted with the original conflict that his friend poses: the unfairness to the animal. Next he learns that Zaroff is hunting men on his island. Finally, he learns that he will be hunted. "My dear fellow," said the general, "have I not told you I always mean what I say about hunting? This is really an inspiration. I drink to a foeman worthy of my steel--at last." The general raised his glass, but Rainsford sat staring at him.
Details. To evoke strong emotions, you must include great details. This means you must think about what the setting is like in terms of sounds, sights, smells, tastes, and tactile possibilities. Use specific sensory details to evoke the situation and give the reader a blow by blow of the action of the story.
"Ill give him a trail to follow," muttered Rainsford, and he struck offfrom the rude path he had been following into the tracklesswilderness. He executed a series of intricate loops; he doubled onhis trail again and again, recalling all the lore of the fox hunt, andall the dodges of the fox. Night found him leg-weary, with handsand face lashed by the branches, on a thickly wooded ridge.An apprehensive night crawled slowly by like a wounded snakeand sleep did not visit Rainsford, although the silence of a deadworld was on the jungle. Toward morning when a dingy gray wasvarnishing the sky, the cry of some startled bird focused Rainsfordsattention in that direction. Something was coming through thebush, coming slowly, carefully, coming by the same winding wayRainsford had come. He flattened himself down on the limb and,through a screen of leaves almost as thick as tapestry, hewatched. . . . That which was approaching was a man.
Feel the Consequences.Once you place the reader in the situation, then evoke even stronger emotions by making sure the reader understands the consequences of failure. This is the, “So What?” question. If X fails to do Y– so what? Who cares? You must provide enough details on the consequences or hint at it broadly enough for the reader to guess the consequences. What are the consequences?
"Youll find this game worth playing," thegeneral said enthusiastically." Your brainagainst mine. Your woodcraft againstmine. Your strength and stamina againstmine. Outdoor chess! And the stake is notwithout value, eh?""And if I win--" began Rainsford huskily."Ill cheerfully acknowledge myself defeatif I do not find you by midnight of the thirdday," said General Zaroff. "My sloop willplace you on the mainland near a town.”
Scene cuts. Try using scene cuts to leave X hanging while you present a scene with Y that leaves Y hanging; then come back to X, finish the first scene and transition immediately into the second scene which–of course–leaves X hanging again. Repeat as needed. Where is the reader left hanging?
"Nerve, nerve, nerve!" he panted, as he dashed along. Ablue gap showed between the trees dead ahead. Evernearer drew the hounds. Rainsford forced himself on towardthat gap. He reached it. It was the shore of the sea. Across acove he could see the gloomy gray stone of the chateau.Twenty feet below him the sea rumbled and hissed.Rainsford hesitated. He heard the hounds. Then he leapedfar out into the sea. . . .When the general and his pack reached the place by thesea, the Cossack stopped. For some minutes he stoodregarding the blue-green expanse of water. He shrugged hisshoulders. Then be sat down, took a drink of brandy from asilver flask, lit a cigarette, and hummed a bit from MadameButterfly.
Pacing Much of building suspense is an issue of pacing, which is merely taking the long picture of your story and thinking about how scenes blend with each other. For example, you might follow two fast-paced action scenes with a scene of simple action but more complex character interaction. Here are some suspense building techniques that come from this idea of pacing. You can control pacing with sentence structure. Long, flowing sentences can slow down the action. Short sentences build tension by propelling the reader forward.
Rainsford held his breath. The generals eyes hadleft the ground and were traveling inch by inch upthe tree. Rainsford froze there, every muscletensed for a spring. But the sharp eyes of thehunter stopped before they reached the limbwhere Rainsford lay; a smile spread over his brownface. Very deliberately he blew a smoke ring intothe air; then he turned his back on the tree andwalked carelessly away, back along the trail hehad come.
When the general, nursing his bruised shoulder, hadgone, Rainsford took up his flight again. It was flightnow, a desperate, hopeless flight, that carried himon for some hours. Dusk came, then darkness, andstill he pressed on. The ground grew softer under hismoccasins; the vegetation grew ranker, denser;insects bit him savagely.Then, as he stepped forward, his foot sank into theooze. He tried to wrench it back, but the mucksucked viciously at his foot as if it were a giantleech. With a violent effort, he tore his feet loose. Heknew where he was now. Death Swamp and itsquicksand.
Dialogue and internal monologues can affectpacing, by changing the rhythm . Shortinterchanges of dialogue between charactersincrease the reading speed. Long speeches bya certain character will slow it down. If you feellike the story needs to pick up the pace, lookfor areas with too much dialogue, internalmonologue, or exposition. Or vice versa, notenough.
"Rainsford!" screamed the general. "How in Gods name didyou get here?”"Swam," said Rainsford. "I found it quicker than walkingthrough the jungle.”The general sucked in his breath and smiled. "I congratulateyou," he said. "You have won the game.”Rainsford did not smile. "I am still a beast at bay," he said, ina low, hoarse voice. "Get ready, General Zaroff.”The general made one of his deepest bows. "I see," he said."Splendid! One of us is to furnish a repast forthe hounds. The other will sleep in this very excellent bed. Onguard, Rainsford." . . .
Use Dread and AnticipationKeep in mind the difference in dread and anticipation.Dread: bad things have happened and even worse things are possible. Anticipation: something bad could happen unless. . .Dread builds on past conflict, while anticipation builds on hope of avoiding conflict. Try to use both as you build the suspense of your story.
One way to convey your character’s dread or anxiety is todirectly tell the reader:He felt scaredShe was afraidI grew more frightened by the second.He experienced the really horrible feeling of absolutefear, an emotion that was indescribably debilitating.These are ok; they tell the reader how your character isfeeling, but they don’t really invoke any emotion fromthe reader. To make a scene more suspenseful, show thecharacters fears instead of just telling them; this permitsthe reader to feel the fear rather than just think about it.
The showing of behavior or feelings is no more complicated than tellingabout it. Consider, for example, your visceral reactions to fear. Sharingthose corporeal responses will heighten your readers’ involvement inyour story. A person may feel hot or cold, shiver or sweat. Palms get damp, the mouth dry, the throat blocked. People may experience an accelerated, pounding heartbeat, feeling it in unusual places: in their ears, in their throat, or even in their fingers. Breathing changes. It can become faster and shallower, though for some people it may deepen and slow. The skin can react in multiple ways: goose bumps may occur or the hairs on the arms may stand up. The stomach may tighten, clench, churn, or feel like it is filled with ice. Pain drifts through the body; for example, the fillings of some people’s teeth hurt. Fear causes clenching of the jaw and hands, involuntary noises, uncontrollable shaking.
“He struggled up to the surface and tried to cry out, but the washfrom the speeding yacht slapped him in the face and the saltwater in his open mouth made him gag and strangle.”For a seemingly endless time he fought the sea. He began tocount his strokes; he could do possibly a hundred more and then--“The generals left eyelid fluttered down in a wink.”“Rainsford held his breath.”“Rainsford froze there, every muscle tensed for a spring.”“A smile spread over [Zaroff’s] brown face.”“The pent-up air burst hotly from Rainsfords lungs. His first thoughtmade him feel sick and numb.”
Guided WritingAdd suspense to your story by using the strategieswe just learned
1. While on vacation and shopping in a department store, a middle-aged man comes face to face with the guy who kidnapped his son ten years earlier.1. At a Chinese restaurant, your character opens his fortune cookie and reads the following message: "Your life is in danger. Say nothing to anyone. You must leave the city immediately and never return. Repeat: say nothing."... ]2. Your character has to tell his parents that hes getting a divorce. He knows his parents will take his wifes side, and he is right...3. Your character suspects her husband is having an affair and decides to spy on him. What she discovers is not what she was expecting...4. ·A man elbows your character in a crowd. After he is gone, she discovers her cell phone is too. She calls her own number, and the man answers. She explains that the cell phone has personal information on it and asks the man to send it back to her. He hangs up. Instead of going to the police, your character decides to take matters into her own hands...
Homework Post #12: Post a long paragraph or two that demonstrate your efforts at creating suspense. Reading: “Labels.” This is the first three pages of a short story. Please note the style as you read.