You will be completing a textâ€“write. First, you will read Ralph Waldo Emersonâ€™s essay, â€œSelf-Reliance,â€ located on the leftâ€“hand side of the chart, for comprehension. Once you have done so, read the essay a second time and begin to make notes on the rightâ€“hand side of the chart. Perhaps you have questions, or you have textâ€“toâ€“self connections. Maybe you have questions about what you are readingâ€”note all this down on the right side of the chart. You have plenty of room, so make your notes parallel with the text you are notating. You will turn this assignment in with portfolio 2.
Despite how you might feel about Poeâ€™s work yourself there is no denying the brilliance of his writing. His ability to weave a tale which toys with our imaginations is nearly unsurpassed. Think back on his stories which youâ€™ve read and see if you can remember these hallmarks of his style. In fact, these are generally good traits for any narrative.
- An opening which introduces the audience to some or all of these elements: narrator, setting, the problem, characters. (Think about the opening of â€œWilliam Wilsonâ€â€”which of these were introduced?)
- Notice how he uses reflection to get the reader inside the head of the narrator.
- Poe varies the pacing of his stories, often using dialogue to slow time down and insert the reader into the story.
- Description which does not detract from the story. Good detail and sensory description (description using the five senses) is key to a story but if it is done with a heavy hand it can ruin the story.
- Poeâ€™s conclusions, while often surprising, still feel as if they flow naturally from the previous scenes and details of the story.
Instead of relying upon one specific literary style or trick, Poe uses these and other techniques in combinations to draw the reader deeper into the story. Now that youâ€™ve recognized these techniques and seen them used by a master, you get to implement them yourself.
Poe uses his excellent prose and narrative style to write fictional tales of suspense. You will do the same. I will walk you through the process of pre-writing then leave you to write your story. The first thing youâ€™ve got to determine is what kind of scary or suspenseful story are you going to write. Will it be a supernatural thriller, or a suspenseful murder mystery, will there be ghosts, or an insane asylum? Use the following activity to get some ideas on what to write your story about.
Get out a sheet of paper and a pencil, along with a timer. Set the timer for one minute. For each of the topics, you are going to do a free write. Start the timer, choose a topic and start writing everything that comes to mind. The goal is to never let your pen/pencil stop writing for the full minute.
- Write about some scary dreams or day dreams youâ€™ve had.
- List some suspenseful movies youâ€™ve seen. What made them intense?
- Many people believe that Poeâ€™s worst fear was being alone; others think it was being buried alive. What do you think his worst fear was? Why?
- What is your worst fear?
Read over your writing, look for things that are similar in each list, or items that stick out and catch your interest. These might be things that would make a good story. Here are some ideas to keep in mind when brainstorming and writing your story: Poeâ€™s stories were scary without being overly gory. There are horrific images in his stories but they arenâ€™t necessary described in ways that make them bloody and gruesome. In other words bloody doesnâ€™t equal scary. Most of his stories only give enough detail to let the readerâ€™s imagination take over and make it truly scary.
You now have an idea for your story. The last bit of prewriting to do is to create a brief outline. This is a short story; it will be a maximum of two pages single spaced. Use the basic elements of plot to create your outline.
- Rising action
- Falling action
- Protagonist (person who moves the plot forward; many of Poeâ€™s protagonists were murderers)
- Antagonist (the force which works against the protagonist)
Now you have an outline you are ready to go for broke and write your suspenseful story. Here is the rubric which will be used to grade your story. Please read it before you start writing your final draft.
You will be reading a short story of Edgar Allan Poeâ€™s called â€œWilliam Wilson.â€ He wrote the classic suspenseful story in 1839. I donâ€™t want to give anything away, so weâ€™ll discuss literary terms after you have read the story. I have broken the story up into three parts and edited parts of it to make it a little shorter. The main character, William Wilson, goes through a dramatic change in characterization in the story. As you read, there are several things I want you to do:
- Read the section once through for comprehension.
- On the second reading, underline or highlight any words you donâ€™t understand and look them up using another resource, such as a dictionary and write definition you find in the space provided. I want you to highlight at least one word per page, but my guess is there will be more than one word you want to look up.
- In each part of the story (so a total of three times), write any questions you have about what is going on in the story in the space provided, and then write the answers to those questions as you find them in the story.
- Underline or highlight the point in the story when William Wilson loses his sanity.
- Make a note at the point in the story when you have what I call the â€œaha!â€ moment, when you understand what exactly is driving William Wilson insane.