I made this when I was teaching students how to approach reading in a literature class that focused on the short story.
I am not usually a visual person, but more of an audio learner (charts make me queasy). That said, the essence of this “map” is that it starts by looking at the story in the broadest sense and moves down to the narrower, more detailed aspects of the story. It moves from genre to structure to language.
By posting it here, I suppose I am asking what it leaves out. Should a discussion-based literature course examine a story in a more encompassing and maybe effective way?
This is how I tend to read. How do you read? How do you teach your students to read?
Ben Marcus say some good, practical things here in this interview from Knopf’s “Writers on Writing” series.
I appreciate, especially, his reminder to write what we’d want to read. It sounds so obvious, but it’s easy to get bogged down with irrelevant /tension-killing information while we’re in the middle of a paragraph. It’s more than just thinking about communicating to an audience when we write; it’s about choosing phrases that captivate, challenge, and entertain appropriately according to the moment we’re writing.
Marcus also draws our attention to the fact that those of us who learned to write in college/university workshops are used to having audiences that must finish our work. I’m glad he mentioned this, because I am teaching a summer college workshop at the moment and I think it’s good to keep in mind what school-habits my curriculum formulates and propels. I’m teaching seniors, so they are about to go into the world and adjust to writing outside of the classroom.
Marcus reminded me to think about what happens when my audience becomes someone that doesn’t really like to read that much, but thought my book sounded interesting so they read the first paragraph in the bookstore? Or before that, I’m going to have to get that first paragraph (and entire book) past an agent and hopefully editor. The solution? I stated it yesterday but I’ll state it this way today: Learn to recognize what it is I’m reading, how it impacts me, what it can teach me about writing.
Books are the best teachers.