Monday, October 24, 2016

Masterclass: Backpack Literature Chapters 4-5

From Kate’s Writing Crate…

          In continuation of my post on September 26th, I’ve completed chapters 4 and 5 of the textbook Backpack Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and Writing 4th edition by XJ Kennedy and Dana Gioia. It’s as informative and engaging as the authors promised.
          I love this textbook! I’m so glad I’m auditing this class.

          I had planned on finishing a chapter a week, but my editing schedule only allowed me to complete chapters 4 and 5 this month.

          Chapter 4 covered elements of setting. After reading pieces by Kate Chopin, Jorge Luis Borges, Jack London, and Amy Tan, settings are part of the experience for readers, but writers use them in different ways from mimicking characters’ moods to plot points.  The setting in Jack London’s “To Build a Fire” captured freezing cold perfectly.

          To learn to write about settings, I choose to write all the details about a place I like to visit then write a paragraph about what sort of mood is suggested by it. As often is the case, the mood wasn’t exactly what I thought before I completed the assignment. Writing is the best way to discover what you really think!

          Chapter 5 covered tone and style with short stories by Hemingway and Faulkner. Irony in its many guises was discussed then highlighted in pieces by O. Henry and Kate Chopin. I loved the inner dialogue of Mrs. Mallard in “The Story of an Hour” by Chopin which, of course, had an ironic ending.

          For the writing exercise, I chose to describe a city street as seen through three different characters in different moods and stages of life. The moods and ages are part of the exercise. I loved this assignment. It’s so freeing to step outside of yourself and see things through someone else’s eyes. The same street isn’t seen the same way. Fascinating to discover different actions taken because of a mood can make you oblivious or obvious.

          I recommend this textbook to all writers.

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