CLIMB STORY MOUNTAIN5 Main Stages1. Opening2. Build-up3. Climax4. Resolution5. EndingOPENINGBUILD-UPCLIMAXRESOLUTIONENDINGSettingMaincharactersEventsCluesSurprise!Unexpected eventProblemSortingthingsoutNewequilibriumInitialequilibrium
1. OPENING Set the scene. Create an atmosphere. Introduce characters. Look at the following opening lines in these two famous works of fiction and decide:1. What kind of narrator there is.2. What the writer expects us to understand about the setting and the characters.3. What frame of mind the writer expects to create in the readers.
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.However little known the feelings or views of such a man may be on his first entering a neighbourhood, this truth is so well fixedin the minds of the surrounding families, that he is considered the rightful property of some one or other of their daughters.“My dear Mr. Bennet,” said his lady to him one day, “have you heard that Netherfield Park is let at last?”Mr. Bennet replied that he had not.“But it is,” returned she; “for Mrs. Long has just been here, and she told me all about it.”Mr. Bennet made no answer.“Do you not want to know who has taken it?” cried his wife impatiently.“_You_ want to tell me, and I have no objection to hearing it.”This was invitation enough.Pride and PrejudiceJane AustenWhat does this tell us about the “neighbourhood” and the “surrounding families”?
THE thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as I best could, but when heventured upon insult, I vowed revenge. You, who so well know the nature of my soul,will not suppose, however, that I gave utterance to a threat. AT LENGTH I wouldbe avenged; this was a point definitively settled -- but the very definitiveness with whichit was resolved precluded the idea of risk. I must not only punish, but punish withimpunity. A wrong is unredressed when retribution overtakes its redresser. It is equallyunredressed when the avenger fails to make himself felt as such to him who has donethe wrong.The Cask of AmontilladoEdgar Allan PoeTHE thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as I best could, butwhen he ventured upon insult, I vowed revenge.You, who so well know the nature of my soul,The writer establishes a relationshipbetween narrator and reader. We aresupposed to know who the narrator is andtherefore understand his/her behaviour.I must not only punish, but punish with impunity. A wrong isunredressed when retribution overtakes its redresser. It is equallyunredressed when the avenger fails to make himself felt as such to himwho has done the wrong.What do we learn about theplot of the story?The narrator makes ushis/her accomplices. Heassumes that we are onhis/her side.
CHALLENGE! PLAN: Look at the picture anddecide:1. Who she is2. Where she is3. What she’s running away fromWrite a paragraph in the firstperson answering all the questions.Then write a paragraph in the thirdperson doing the same.
2. BUILD-UP You need to make the reader curious and interested in reading on. You can do that by giving some information and withholdingother. Ask yourself what questions the reader is asking him/herself rightnow. Let’s go back to The Cask of Amontillado and think about fourquestions that you would like the narrator to answer.
QUESTIONS, QUESTIONSTHE thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as I best could, but when heventured upon insult, I vowed revenge. You, who so well know the nature of my soul,will not suppose, however, that I gave utterance to a threat. AT LENGTH I wouldbe avenged; this was a point definitively settled -- but the very definitiveness with whichit was resolved precluded the idea of risk. I must not only punish, but punish withimpunity. A wrong is unredressed when retribution overtakes its redresser. It is equallyunredressed when the avenger fails to make himself felt as such to him who has donethe wrong.Who is the narrator really?Who is Fortunato? What did he do to deserve punishment?How was he punished? We know that the narrator managedto punish Fortunato without gettinghimself in trouble for it.What was the relationship betweennarrator and Fortunato?
ANSWERS?He had a weak point -- this Fortunato -- although in other regards he was a man tobe respected and even feared. He prided himself on his connoisseurship in wine.Few Italians have the true virtuoso spirit. For the most part their enthusiasm isadopted to suit the time and opportunity to practise imposture upon the British andAustrian MILLIONAIRES. In painting and gemmary, Fortunato, like hiscountrymen , was a quack, but in the matter of old wines he was sincere. In thisrespect I did not differ from him materially; I was skilful in the Italian vintagesmyself, and bought largely whenever I could.Are any of your questionsanswered? Which? How?We now know that Fortunato wasItalian. That he knew about wines andthat he took pride in that (did heboast about it?) but that he was happyto let people think he knew moreabout other subjects than he really didtaking advantage of people’signorance. So perhaps he’s a bitarrogant? He seems to have a highopinion of himself. Does this give usa clue as to why he will be punished?We know that the narratorknows about wines too, but he’snot Italian. We know that hebought wine ‘largely’ so, doesthis mean that he’s rich? Wealso know that he realises whenFortunato is being a ‘quack’,does this mean that he thinkshe’s smart and even smarterthan Fortunato?Most importantly, the build-up is about creating asequence of events which will lead up to theconclusion of the story. The reader must feel thatthey can guess where it is all going but would liketo know the details (how it is going to happen).Reading this paragraph from The Cask ofAmontillado we know that the narrator will takeadvantage of Fortunato’s weaknesses to takerevenge. The narrator’s revenge will have to dowith wine and Fortunato’s knowledge but also withFortunato’s arrogance and pride. The question thatevery reader must ask themselves now is: WHATNEXT?
DOUBTS & OBSTACLESIt was about dusk, one evening during the supreme madness of the carnival season, that Iencountered my friend. He accosted me with excessive warmth, for he had been drinking much. Theman wore motley. He had on a tight-fitting parti-striped dress and his head was surmounted by theconical cap and bells. I was so pleased to see him, that I thought I should never have done wringinghis hand.I said to him -- "My dear Fortunato, you are luckily met. How remarkably well you are looking to-day!But I have received a pipe of what passes for Amontillado, and I have my doubts.""How?" said he, "Amontillado? A pipe? Impossible ? And in the middle of the carnival?""I have my doubts," I replied; "and I was silly enough to pay the full Amontillado price withoutconsulting you in the matter. You were not to be found, and I was fearful of losing a bargain.""Amontillado!"Will the narrator manage to lure Fortunato to his trap?
OBSTACLE OVERCOMEAs you are engaged, I am on my way to Luchesi. If any one has a critical turn, it is he. He will tellme" --"Luchesi cannot tell Amontillado from Sherry.""And yet some fools will have it that his taste is a match for your own.""Come let us go.""Whither?""To your vaults.""My friend, no; I will not impose upon your good nature. I perceive you have an engagementLuchesi" --"I have no engagement; come."Edgar Allan Poe delivers, Fortunato’s pride and arrogance prove hisdoom. He is lured by the narrator because the narrator knows hisweaknesses well. Even though Poe doesn’t tell us what the narratorknows, what happens – Fortunato falling for his tricks – makes perfectsense.
BUILDING UP TENSION 1 One of the ways to build up tension is to set the events in a place whichwill make the readers feel tense."I drink," he said, "to the buried that repose around us.”(…) "These vaults,"he said, are extensive."(…)"The nitre!" I said: see it increases. It hangs like moss upon the vaults. Weare below the rivers bed. The drops of moisture trickle among the bones.Come, we will go back ere it is too late. Your cough" --
BUILDING UP TENSION 2 Another way to build up tension is to use irony or sarcasm."Come," I said, with decision, we will go back; your health is precious. Youare rich, respected, admired, beloved; you are happy as once I was. You are aman to be missed. For me it is no matter. We will go back; you will be ill andI cannot be responsible. Besides, there is Luchesi" --"Enough," he said; "the cough is a mere nothing; it will not kill me. I shallnot die of a cough.""True -- true," I replied; (…).
CHALLENGE! PLAN:What questions do you think the readerwill be asking him/herself? Answer them! Add three paragraphs to the story. Choose the narrator. Add details but do not answer all thequestions. Include events that may have happenedbefore and/or after the opening.You need to create interest.Expand the story adding moredetails without giving too manyclues.
3. CLIMAX The build-up will have suggested a logical chain of events leading upfrom the opening. Something might go wrong in the plans or something unexpectedmight happen to make it look as if the chain of events which the readerhad foreseen, will be disrupted. It could be an unexpected appearance, or an obstacle on the way. Whatever it is, it will need a solution for the story to come to aconclusion.
SURPRISE!In an instant he had reached the extremity of the niche, and finding hisprogress arrested by the rock, stood stupidly bewildered . A momentmore and I had fettered him to the granite. In its surface were two ironstaples, distant from each other about two feet, horizontally. From one ofthese depended a short chain. from the other a padlock. Throwing thelinks about his waist, it was but the work of a few seconds to secure it. Hewas too much astounded to resist . Withdrawing the key I stepped backfrom the recess.The unexpected event is not necessarily so for the narrator,but it will be for the reader. We finally get to know thenarrator’s plan. He was going to kill Fortunato all along (aswe kind of suspected because of the atmosphere and thechoice of place – the vaults where there are hundreds ofbones, it’s dark, etc). The way in which he does it isunexpected though. This is the moment of realisation forthe reader and for Fortunato. Morally, it feels very wrong,and especially so because the narrator has made us his/heraccomplice.
BUILDING UP TENSION 3 Use short sentences: they speed up the pace of narration. Begin your sentences with –ing clauses to add more action. Use time frames which show how fast events happened.From one of these depended a short chain, from theother a padlock. Throwing the links about his waist, itwas but the work of a few seconds to secure it. He wastoo much astounded to resist . Withdrawing the key Istepped back from the recess.
BUILDING UP TENSION 4 Yet another way to build up tension is through dialogue becauseevents progress quickly without interruption from description."Ha! ha! ha! -- he! he! -- a very good joke indeed -- an excellent jest. We will havemany a rich laugh about it at the palazzo -- he! he! he! -- over our wine -- he! he!he!""The Amontillado!" I said."He! he! he! -- he! he! he! -- yes, the Amontillado . But is it not getting late? Willnot they be awaiting us at the palazzo, the Lady Fortunato and the rest? Let usbe gone.""Yes," I said "let us be gone."
CHALLENGE!PLAN: Think of a problem, an obstacleor a surprise. It must be unexpected eitherfor the main character(s) or for thereaders.Write three or more paragraphs moredetailing the unexpected situation. Try touse dialogue, irony and/or description tocreate tension.It’s important that the readersdon’t feel this unexpected eventis too farfetched.
4. RESOLUTION After the climax, there is less tension, the worst or the best - thefunniest, or the most tragic, or the most romantic – has happened, anwe are left wondering: What next? The resolution needs to offer satisfactory and plausible ways out: themain character succeeds, or fails definitively. It’s clear that after the climax, there’s no going back, something haschanged forever and the only way is forward, so the resolution needsto offer a new chain of events leading to the ending.
UNFORTUNATE FORTUNATOA succession of loud and shrill screams, bursting suddenly from thethroat of the chained form, seemed to thrust me violently back. For abrief moment I hesitated -- I trembled. Unsheathing my rapier, I began togrope with it about the recess; but the thought of an instant reassured me.I placed my hand upon the solid fabric of the catacombs , and feltsatisfied. I reapproached the wall. I replied to the yells of him whoclamoured. I reechoed -- I aided -- I surpassed them in volume and instrength. I did this, and the clamourer grew still.How did the narrator deal with Fortunato?Why isn’t there a way back?What feelings does the narrator experience?The narrator haschanged in oureyes. Fromwronged victim,he’s become acruel murderer.We could’ve feltsympathy for thenarrator and evenunderstand his panicbut the resolutionoffers us a personwho delights intormenting a manwho he has alreadypunished, and who hewill leave to die a slowand terrible death.
CHALLENGE!PLAN: Jot down the chain ofevents leading to the ending. Is the ending a happy or asad one? Has your main charactersucceeded or failed? How has he/she changed?It’s important that you decide whatkind of ending you will have beforeyou write, changing ideas halfwaythrough the writing means that therewill be inconsistencies in thenarrative.
ENDING"Fortunato!"No answer. I called again --"Fortunato!"No answer still. I thrust a torch through the remaining aperture and let it fall within.There came forth in return only a jingling of the bells. My heart grew sick -- onaccount of the dampness of the catacombs. I hastened to make an end of mylabour. I forced the last stone into its position; I plastered it up. Against the newmasonry I reerected the old rampart of bones. For the half of a century no mortalhas disturbed them.In pace requiescat!The ending needs to be the natural resultof the chain of events in the resolution.Even surprising endings are possiblebecause of the previous chain of events.It’s usually a sign of bad writing/planningto come up with an ending which doesn’tmatch the rest of the story. Be careful notto disappoint at the very end! The finalsentences usually have a lasting impression,so choose your ideas and words well.The narrator hassucceeded, he’saccomplished what he setout to do (take revengewithout paying for it).He’s become a differentperson though, he’s paid avery high price…or hashe? In any case, thereaders are shocked, andPoe manages to alienateus from the narrator andhis deeds despite theconfessional tone of thestory.
CHALLENGE!Write a suitable ending for your story.PLAN: What is the newequilibrium? Will you have answered allof your reader’s questions?Or will you have an open/unexpected ending?