Presentation on theme: "Fiction An Overview ENG 404: AP English Literature and Composition"— Presentation transcript:
1 Fiction An Overview ENG 404: AP English Literature and Composition Unit I: Genre Study - Fiction
2 An Overview of FictionWhat is fiction?Elements of Fiction
3 What Is Fiction?Definition: narratives based in the imagination of the author, not in literal, reportorial factsOne of the three major genres of imaginative literatureNotes on fictionWriters of fiction may include historically accurate details, but their overriding goal is to tell a story and say something significant about life.The essence of fiction, as opposed to drama, is narration, the recounting or telling of a sequence of events or actions.
4 Roots of Fiction Rooted in ancient legends and myths Local priests told stories about gods and heroesTravelling storytellers would entertain listeners with tales of adventure in faraway countriesLegends and epics reinforced the local religions and power structuresIn the fables of Aesop and the parables of Jesus, a short narrative provides an illustration of a religious, philosophic, or psychological conclusion.Starting about 800 years ago, storytelling in Western civilizations was developed into a fine art.
5 Modern FictionFiction in the modern sense did not begin to flourish until the 17th and 18th centuries.Classical view of man: human beings are in a fallen moral state and need guidance of church and monarchyRenaissance view of man: humanity should be viewed with greater latitude; some people can become moral without control of church and/or stateFirst true works of fiction in Europe were more concerned with adventure than with society or politics.Increased levels of education in 18th century facilitated development of fiction.
6 Edgar Allen Poe’s Theory of the Short Story Described in a review of Hawthorne’s “Twice- Told Tales”Convinced that “worldly interests” prevented people from gaining the “totality” of comprehension and responseA short, concentrated story was ideal for producing such a strong impression.Short, concentrated story = “a brief prose tale” that could be read at a single sitting
7 Elements of Fiction I: Verisimilitude and Donnée Fiction, along with drama, has a basis in realism or verisimilitude.Creation of events that are anchored in the real worldFiction and drama as arts of imitationDonnée (“something given”), postulate, or premiseAssumption that authors make about the nature of their story material“ground rules” for the setting in which the story takes placeOnce established, governs the directions in which the story movesScenes and actions must follow the author’s stated or implied ground rules, even in works of fantasy fiction.
8 Elements of Fiction II: Character, Plot, Structure, and Idea or Theme Character brings fiction to lifeCharacter = a reasonable facsimile of a human beingModern fiction developed alongside increased interest in psychologyPlot is the plan of fictionPlot = actions and incidents as they develop sequentially or chronologicallyconflict = struggle between protagonist and antagonist
9 Elements of Fiction II: Character, Plot, Structure, and Idea or Theme Structure is the knitting together of fictionRefers to the way a story is assembledDoes not have to follow chronological orderIdea or theme is the vivifying thought of fictionIdea = result of general and abstract thinkingFiction embodies ideas and themes that underlie and give life to stories and novelsIssuesInvolve characters in direct or implicit argument or oppositionBring out crucially important moments of decision about matters of public or private concernMajor themes tie individual fictional works together
10 Elements of Fiction III: The Writer’s Tools Narration creates the sequence and logic of fictionNarration = the reporting of actions in sequential orderRenders the story, makes it clear and brings it alive to the reader’s imaginationStyle is the author’s skill in bringing language to lifePoint of view guides what we see and understand in fictionPoint of view = voice of the story, speaker who narratesSpeaker or narrator may use authorial voice or a personaDialogue creates interactions among fictional charactersActs as means of showing or actualizing rather than reportingMay indicate traits of the speakers (intelligence, emotions, etc.)
11 Elements of Fiction III: The Writer’s Tools Tone and irony guide our perceptions of fictional worksTone = way the author conveys attitudes toward readers and subjects in the workIrony = disconnect between what is and what is perceived or expectedSymbolism and allegory relate fiction to the larger worldSymbols may be cultural/universal or contextualAllegory = a complete story, which maintains its own narrative integrity, which can be applied point by point to a parallel set of situationsCommentary provides us with an author’s thoughtsThe elements together are present in works of fiction
13 Plot: The Motivation and Causality of Fiction Plot: the elements governing the unfolding of actions in a storyStories composed of actions/incidents that occur in chronological orderPlot makes sense and creates meaning from these actionsE.M. Forster, Aspects of the NovelNot a plot: “The king died, and then the queen died.” (lacks motivation and causation)Plot: “The king died, and then the queen died of grief.” (motivation and causation forms a plot)In a well-plotted story:Effects follow causesNothing is irrelevant or accidental; everything is related and causative
14 Conflict Conflict: Conflict may take many forms. The controlling impulse in a connected pattern of causes and effectsPeople/circumstances that a character must face and try to overcomeConflict may take many forms.Man vs. ManInterpersonalBased on morality, emotion, or other impulsesMay play on comparison and contrast, centering on similarities and/or differencesMan vs. SelfInternal dilemmaBased on making a personal choiceMay involve outside influences, but boils down to the protagonist’s own decisionMan vs. SocietyConflict between groups (or an individual vs. a group)May include cultural values and/or man-made institutionsMan vs. NatureOpposing or opposed by larger forcesMay include conflict with nature (Earth, environment, weather), supernatural forces, gods, fate, etc.
15 Conflict Is a Key Component of Fiction Conflict is the driver of plot because opposing forcesArouse curiosity (Who will win?)Cause doubt (outcome is uncertain)Create tension (tug-of-war)Produce interest (investment in characters, outcome, etc.)Without conflict, plot is less interesting and may not engage the reader.Plot w/o conflict: John and Jane meet, fall in love, and get married.Plot w/conflict: John and Jane meet, fall in love, but face complications and obstacles before getting married.John wants to start a family as soon as they marry, but Jane wants to focus on her career firstThey cannot agree, and the anger and resentment tear them apartEach one marries someone else, but is not completely satisfiedLater in life, one is divorced and the other widowed; they reconnectWith the original obstacles removed, they marryRegrets and lost time make marriage bittersweet, but they have found a happy ending
16 Find the Conflict to Determine the Plot Identifying the conflict is the first step to outlining the plot.1. Identify the conflict2. Find the points at which the conflict begins (initiating event) and is resolved (climax).3. Classify all other events based on these two points
17 Writing about the Plot of a Story An essay about plot is really an analysis of the conflict and its developments.The essay should develop from elements of the conflict, not from events in the plot.Strategies for Organizing IdeasBe selective. Rather than describe everything a major character does, focus on the major elements of his/her conflict.Take a broader view. Analyze the plot in terms of impulses, goals, values, issues, and historical perspectives that cause events, rather than just the events themselves.In your conclusion, you mightConsider the impact or effect produced by the conflictDiscuss if the arrangement of story elements produces biasEvaluate whether the plot is possible/impossible, serious/comedic, fair/unfair, powerful/weak, etc.
18 Questions for Discovering Ideas Who are the major and minor characters, and how do their characteristics put them in conflict? How can you describe the conflict or conflicts?How does the story’s action grow out of the major conflict?If the conflict stems from contrasting ideas or values, what are these, and how are they brought out?What problems do the major characters face? How do the characters deal with these problems?How do the major characters achieve (or not achieve) their major goal(s)? What obstacles do they overcome? What obstacles overcome them or alter them?At the end, are the characters successful or unsuccessful, happy or unhappy, satisfied or dissatisfied, changed or unchanged, enlightened or ignorant? How has the resolution of the major conflict produced these results?