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Rebuckled the cheek-strap, chained slacker the bit,
'Twas moonset at starting ; but while we drew near
At Aershot, up leaped of a sudden the sun,
And his low head and crest, just one sharp ear bent back
By Hasselt, Dirck groaned; and cried Joris, “Stay spur !
So, we were left galloping, Joris and I,
“How they'll greet us !” – and all in a moment his roan
Then I cast loose my buffcoat, each holster let fall,
And all I remember is, friends flocking round
XXVI. Write a brief telegram. Give an important message in
ten words or less. Expand this message in a letter to follow the telegram. It should deal with an event.
XXVII. Invent an apologue, that is, a simple narrative whose
chief object is to teach a moral. Tell what would be lost if the moral were omitted. Perhaps the following titles would be suggestive: —
. What the mouse said to Tabby.
XXVIII. The three stanzas of the following poem are three sepa
rate but consecutive pictures, all depicting events that happen outside of the poem. Outline and write a narration dealing with these events : —
THE THREE FISHERs
Three fishers went sailing out into the West,
Three wives sat up in the lighthouse tower,
Three corpses lay out on the shining sands
XXIX. Imagine yourself a newspaper reporter. Plan material for an article upon an ordinary incident of the day; upon an extraordinary incident.
XXX. Compose narratives of real incidents for a newspaper which might be published daily by your school.
The Plot. — It is hard to say just when a simple narrative becomes a story, but it is not so difficult to tell what makes a story. A story is a narrative with a plot. Hence, in order to understand what a story is, we must first know what makes a plot. A plot has three parts: a cause, a result, and a series of happenings that connects the two. For example, suppose that you should find a piece of parchment covered with mysterious symbols, suppose that you should work out the symbols, and, discovering that they referred to hidden treasure, should search for that treasure, and suppose that you should find it. There, in a simple form, is a cause, a series of happenings, and the result to which they led ; in short, a plot. The story would follow if you should elaborate this plot by adding the personality of the actors, the description of the scenes, and all the details of action which would accompany such a plot if it should work itself out in real life. You will find it made into a story in Poe's Gold-Bug.
A story, then, is a narrative where a certain cause leads up to a certain result. Unless this connection is clear, your story will be said to “lack plot.” If the connection is artificial, improbable, or unnatural, your story will be said to be melodramatic, or unconvincing. If it is too obvious, the plot will give itself away from the first and be scarcely worth
telling. If the connection between cause and effect is clumsily made, the story will be said to be badly told. If it is commonplace, hackneyed, or too familiar, those are the names which will be applied to your tale. Before you begin to write a story, be sure that you have a good plot.
I. a. Write out, in a sentence or two for each, the plots of five
short stories that you have recently read.
b. Point out orally, or in writing, the cause, and the result in each plot. Does the series of events in every instance provide a good connection between the two 2
II. Criticize the following plots : —
1. George Darby, sixteen years old, is stranded in Chicago without a cent in his pockets. A passing automobile strikes him and hurls him into a disused areaway. He is unhurt, and as he struggles to free himself from the old boxes and tin cans into which he has been thrown, his hand closes upon a pocketbook which contains a thousand dollars.
2. A young girl goes aboard a transatlantic steamer at New York to say good-by to a school friend. The steamer sails with her aboard, but the pilot promises to take her ashore. She goes through an agony of apprehension on the voyage through the Narrows. When they approach the open ocean, she breaks down and sobs, in spite of the assurances of the captain that she will be landed safely. The pilot finally puts her ashore.
FINDING A STORY AND MAKING A PLOT
Life the Source of Stories. – You should make your own plot if your story is to have any originality, but for the materials of this plot you must go to the ultimate source of all stories, life. Unless your tale is lifelike, unless it reflects life, both plot and narrative will be valueless. Therefore