Car Crash While Hitchhiking & A Perfect Day for Bananafish Stories Response
I need you to Read the 4 Stories I uploaded below and respond to each of them following the reader response guide. (approx. 250 words per story)
Reader Response Guide
Consider these questions for your responses to assigned short stories and to all peer work, both for work groups and full-class workshops. Not all questions will be equally applicable to all works, especially exercises. Use your best judgment. This is not a form to be filled out, just important questions to guide your criticism. Remember that the critique must be honest while still being respectful. Don’t just tell people what they would want to hear.
- Reading Experience
Describe your experience reading the story. This is always the first consideration for both reader and writer. Did you care about the characters? What kept you interested? Were you ever confused or bored or find yourself rushing through certain parts or struggling to connect details? Did you laugh or respond emotionally? Did you understand intellectually without caring or feeling emotionally invested? The writer wants to know how the story affected you (or not) as you read it, before anything like literary analysis takes place.
Briefly describe the story’s main characters, their conflicts, what they want, and what’s at stake for each? There should be important stakes! Writers aren’t always aware of how a character is coming off in a story: Likable? Sympathetic? Interesting? Intelligent? Funny? How does it seem like the writer wants you to feel about the characters v. how you actually feel about them, particularly the protagonist? What psychological and emotional factors are at the center of the conflict and story? How are the characters made complex and interesting? Are they depicted vividly and believably? What roles do characters other than the protagonist play? How does the protagonist change over the course of the story? A story often not even considered a story if the protagonist doesn’t change, even only if in his/her perception or understanding of events. Knowing this should prevent you from writing about frivolous/trivial/unimportant things.
Identify the story’s primary opposing forces, both explicit and implied. There should be pressure in a story, a feeling that something important is going to happen. You can call it psychological, spiritual, existential. But it should feel like two trains are headed toward each other on the same track, and a collision is imminent. This is a generalization of course; there are exceptions to all rules. But the rules are rules for a reason: it’s what the reader expects, and stories typically have lesser effect when they’re ignored. Example: Joe robs a bank. Obviously he wants money. But what’s underneath that? What does the robbery mean to him beyond the obvious? His story should explore some aspect of who he is at his core, of how he perceives himself, of how he relates to the world. This should compel you to explore your characters in some depth.
Identify and discuss the story’s central events and how they develop the conflict from page to page, scene to scene. Plot refers to the chronological order of events. Structure refers to the order in which those events appear in the story, regardless of chronology. Comment here on structure as well to the extent it’s relevant.
Discuss the qualities of the writing: the use of suggestive details, sensual language, voice, imagery, humor, tone. Consider also elements of the story’s composition: grammar and punctuation, but also style, clarity, use of precise and active verbs, reliance on adjectives and adverbs to modify noun and verb choices.
Consider that a story should build toward a singleness of effect. Every line, every event, every detail should contribute to its final effect. (That’s from Poe, but for most writers, readers and editors, it still stands.) Consider also that stories are often judged based on how the events have “changed” the characters. What effect does the story seem to want to achieve by the end? Is it successful? If not, what might make it so?
It’s sufficient to say, “On page 4,” or “In the restaurant scene…” Generalized or vague responses like, “I liked it,” “I couldn’t get into it,” or “That character was interesting” will not be highly rewarded. The more specific the response, the better the grade. Reader Response to a single story should be no longer than a page or so. They’re not meant to be mini-essays, neither are they question and answer. Just give the story some thought and tell me what you think.