Q3 Portfolios: Narratives and Literary Analysis

Prefatory note: Always refer back to the portfolio overview linked to here as we review your writing this week.

Modes of discourse: Narrative writing and literary analysis
Note: Literary analysis is a specialized form of exposition. See the notes after the jump below.

Revision prompt: If necessary, finish your narrative; then revise your literary analysis response for that narrative. For the literary analysis, explain how the author (you) used specific literary elements to develop a theme.

The original preface to our study of the novel (click here to read it again) gave you this prompt:

Preface III: Introductory Narrative | Write a two-page (roughly 500 words) or longer narrative essay detailing what your main character—you, a version of you, or an invented protagonist—did while invisible.

Directions | Start by defining any bolded terms below.
1. Choose a first-person or third-person omniscient point of view.
2. Choose one of the lines below to serve as your first sentence.
3. Decide on a protagonist (a persona, a character, or yourself), an antagonist (of any kind), and a clear conflict.
4. Decide on other elements of narrative writing as necessary: setting, mood, symbolism, and so on.
5. Decide on a theme of your choosing. Look at the essential questions for guidance.
6. Write a story about what your main character did when granted the powers of invisibility. Use the story to explore the theme you settled on.

Requirements | Remember to add any additional requirements given in class.
• While you are invisible, you are not intangible. You remain corporeal.
• Use our class notes on the other restrictions and impediments brought on by your ability.
• Follow the complete submission process, including reflection and metacognition, as you have for every essay.
• Make your narrative at least 500 words (about two pages when double-spaced in 12-point font).

Opening Lines | Choose one of the following.
• “When I woke up that day, I found myself invisible.”
• “When she/he woke up that day, she/he found herself/himself invisible.”
• “I had been invisible at that point for a month.”
• “She/he had been invisible at that point for a month.”

Metacognition Requirements | Identify the following in your final narrative:
• Explicate the theme of your own narrative by referring to specific characters, events, and so on in a brief, handwritten attachment
• Explicate the conflict within your own narrative by referring to specific characters, events, and so on in a brief, handwritten attachment

On 2/7 , you began outlining and writing the narrative. Over the next two weeks, you periodically returned in class to the process; then, on 2/22, you were given 30 minutes to write an analysis of your own narrative based on the metacognition requirements above.

Your scores are in the following spreadsheet:

Overall, these were inexplicably ineffective. We must talk about this. Despite having weeks to write, many of you did not finish your stories; more damningly, most of you failed to write anything close to literary analysis in class. Keep in mind that this sort of narrative and narrative analysis is what we have done the most this year:

  • We started in September with you writing and analyzing your own short stories.
  • We analyzed short stories repeatedly throughout Q1 and Q2.
  • Your midterm was almost entirely an exercise in literary analysis, including analysis of short narratives.

This one should have been the gimme grade in your portfolios. You were told what you’d be writing, so you could have prepared; even if you didn’t, however, you have been doing this all year. You should have been able to pull out the theme from your own story, looked your metacognitive notes, and then drafted a decent analytical response. Whatever went wrong, you have no excuse except a lack of effort and attentiveness.

Your scores do not count right now. That would cause most of you to fail immediately, and I do not want you obsessed with your current averages; instead, you must revise your analysis, because if you don’t, these scores will count. You will see an “inactive” score until then. You don’t have to do the math to see that you will be hurt, most of you, if you do not revise well.

Revision #1: Theme

Take a separate sheet of paper and place it on top of your timed draft. Without looking, write your story’s theme. Then write the elements of the narrative that best support and develop that theme (e.g., conflict, characterization, imagery). Be specific.

If you can’t write out a theme and/or its supporting elements, start from scratch: Looking at your story, begin planning what you will analyze.

Revision #2: Detail and development

Still on that separate sheet of paper: What evidence are you using to support your thesis? Can you list the details from your story, including specifics that are accurately connected to the literary elements and techniques you are analyzing? If not, it may be that you didn’t have those elements in your narrative; if that’s the case, you’ll know right away. Otherwise, it’s about two things:

  1. Connecting your details to your story’s theme
  2. Avoiding plot summary

The second one is the most important revision for most of you: Avoid plot summary.

Revision #3: Arrangement

Simply put: How many paragraphs have you written, and how many should you include? Literary analysis should have an introduction, body paragraphs that analyze separate literary elements or techniques, and a conclusion. This is a straightforward kind of exposition (because you are identifying and informing more than arguing a position).

On the same separate sheet of paper, write out what each paragraph’s main idea is. If necessary, create an outline of your paragraphs, and then write the main idea of each. You might also consider your arrangement within each paragraph, returning (if it helps) to the writing resources located here from Q1 and Q2.

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