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SHORT STORY ELEMENTS
Transcript of SHORT STORY ELEMENTS
Breaking down the elements
What physical attributes/traits do we know about Gus?
What character traits (personality, nature, and temper) does Gus have?
Direct v. Indirect Characterization
At the end of Partly Cloudy, what can you say about the kind of cloud Gus is?
At the end of Partly Cloud, what can you say about the kind of stork Peck is?
What should Gus most be known for?
THESE ANSWERS WILL RELATE TO THE SECTION ABOUT CHARACTER TRAITS - BE PREPARED TO SHARE YOUR RESPONSE WITH THE REST OF THE CLASS.
The most effective way to identify character trait: SAY SOMETHING AMAZING ABOUT THE CHARACTER!
What are some of Peck's physical traits?
What are some of Peck's character traits?
PECK SHOULD BE MOST KNOWN FOR...
The author explicitly tells us specific aspects and traits about the character.
The audience must infer (or intelligently decide) which traits a character has based on speech/dialogue, thoughts/feelings, other character's opinions, thoughts, or actions towards our character.
This type of trait is revealed through the character's actions, thoughts, mood, or emotions. It can also be inferred by how others treat and perceive the character.
What direct characterization is visible in this scene? (Physical Traits)
What indirect characterization can you infer from this scene?
When Peck, Gus's stork, leaves to talk with another cloud, how does Gus react?
Character development is important, otherwise characters are flat and boring. Lively
characters that grow, morph, do the unexpected, and/or change
are much more exciting. They help move the story, as the story moves them. Their traits are directly connected to the plot and conflict.
Gus has changes in his emotional state, he's not static and boring.
Speech/Dialogue & Actions
Other's Opinions, Beliefs, & Actions Toward Our Character
Inner Thoughts & Emotions/Feelings
FOUR ASPECTS IN BREAKING DOWN CHARACTERIZATION
This ties hand-in-hand with inner thoughts/feelings!
Gus has emotional ups and downs within the short, which makes him more interesting, allows the audience to feel empathy towards him, and most of all - makes Gus believable.
Physical attributes include: hair (or lack of) & color, height & weight (body size), skin color, eye color, age, clothing, texture of character, and any other unique qualities that describe the character through one of the senses.
Things a character says and does reveals the type of character they are
When characters speak, we [the audience] can make inferences about them. We can be the judge of their actions (if they are moral or immoral).
There is typically a reason why characters do what they do, and the audience can characterize, or label, the specific character according to their actions.
interact with the character
(or view the character) can give insight into the thoughts of and traits of that character.
Are others drawn to the character? Are they afraid of the character? Do some seek advice from the character?
Internal thought [internal monologues]; traits that can be inferred by what the character says, does, or thinks; facial expressions can help the audience make judgements about the character.
Let's take a look at the characters from the Pixar short we just watched, Partly Cloudy.
Gus is __________________ and _________________. I think Gus should be characterized with these terms because...
Peck is ________________ and ________________. I think Peck should be characterized with these terms because...
For your worksheet, you'll need to focus on one of our main characters: Gus or Peck
Ways you can describe the character by simply looking at them. Choose 3 from below to include in your definition.
The way a character thinks and feels about what's happening around them helps us label their character traits.
Breaking down the aspects of
The exposition includes:
Setting (time & place)
Introduction of protagonist, antagonist, and [other characters]
Introduction of conflict
The rising action includes all events leading up to the climax.
It should build the suspense in the story, deepen understanding of characters, and bring the reader effectively to the height of the story!
In bullet-point form, let's create a list of the incidents and actions that can be identified as part of the EXPOSITION for Boundin':
Although rising action is the next element on the plot chart, it will be easier to fill that in once we've identified the CLIMAX. Maybe the pictures below will help you...
In the space provided on your worksheet, write 3 sentences (in complete sentences) that describes what the CLIMAX of Boundin' is.
REVERSE! We need to go back and fill in what happens between the exposition and climax, which is called the RISING ACTION.
In the space provided on your worksheet, make a bullet-point list of the things included in the RISING ACTION of Boundin'. The questions below will help you think of these incidents.
How does tension build in the short film? What does the sheep like to do for fun?
How about all the singing?
Who shows up in the truck? What do they do and how does it affect our sheep?
Introduction of conflict
Who else impacts our sheep?
How does Boundin' end? What does our sheep learn / how does our sheep grow?
Is there a message (or lesson learned) that the audience receives through this short?
Did you like the short Boundin'? Isn't that an important aspect that author/director should think about?
Now, we'll fast forward to our RESOLUTION!
Similar to the rising action, the FALLING ACTION includes all the incidents between the climax and resolution.
In the space provided on your worksheet, make a bullet-point list of all the incidents that are part of the FALLING ACTION.
Let's look at the FALLING ACTION now!
The Incredibles' short:
The CLIMAX is the turning point of the story and where the most action takes place.
The RESOLUTION is the ending - what is learned, how the conflict is solved, and who is affected?
The place and time at which a play, novel, short story, or film is happening. The place or type of surroundings where something is positioned or where an event takes place.
LIFTED has a setting that is unique because the two aliens are in a ________________________ and the sleeping human is in a _____________.
Using your knowledge of the America, which U.S. state could be a possible setting for our Pixar short? Why did you choose the state you chose?
When the short opens, it's dark and the setting is inside the house - specifically in the boy's bedroom. What kind of mood does this set up initially?
When the bright light interrupts the dark setting, how does the mood change?
How do the colors INSIDE the spaceship add to or influence the mood and tone of the short?
Some example settings...
What is the importance of the tree in Lifted? Why did the director choose to include it?
If there were a forest of trees, and they surrounded the house - how would the scene be different? Would it be as humorous if there were more trees when the young boy gets stuck?
Time (What era does this take place in? Is it present day, in the past, or in the future?)
Place (Where does the story take place? Is it in the U.S., somewhere else in the world, or beyond Earth?)
Surroundings (If you had to stage a production of the story, what props would be needed? What important [non-human] elements are included in the story?)
The setting is NOT random. Authors, directors, and producers all critically think and decide on the setting they choose. Setting intertwines with mood, can parallel tone, and lays the foundation for an engaging story.
Let's be honest, CONFLICT makes entertainment!
Think about the funniest story you've ever heard. It probably had a suspenseful beginning that built the CONFLICT and had an unexpected climax [perhaps clever].
Many stories have multiple CONFLICTS intertwined throughout the plot line.
Many people shy away from CONFLICT. They avoid the word and any interaction with it at all costs...
Much can be learned from CONFLICT! CONFLICT can help educate, change opinions, and be the driving source behind people's actions.
BUT, MY ARGUMENTS:
All this talk about CONFLICT, but what is CONFLICT??
CONFLICT is at the heart of all stories. It drives the plot, it motivates the characters, and it excites the audience [or reader]!
Main character v. himself/herself
Main character v. outside force [man, society, nature]
A struggle or clash between opposing characters, forces or emotions.
character v. character
character v. society
character v. nature
character v. self
What was the conflict in...
LOOKING BACK AT OUR PAST SHORT FILMS,
Back to our feature short film!
In the space provided on your handout, write two conflicts that are apparent in the Pixar short "For the Birds".
The next aspect that we need to cover in our short story unit is THEME.
This is an abstract concept that may be difficult to communicate. It will require us to put all the pieces together - from character [including character development] to plot elements and conflict.
THEME varies depending on the type of media (i.e. literature, film, or performance).
The THEME of a fable is its moral.
The THEME of a parable is what it teaches.
The THEME of a piece of fiction is its view about life and how people behave.
In fiction, the THEME isn't intended to teach or preach. In fact, it's not presented directly at all; the audience has to infer and extract the THEME from the characters, setting, actions, and conflicts.
The writer's job is to communicate on common ground with the reader. The general, underlying truths behind the story provide a connection between the writer [or director/producer] and the reader [or audience].
Let's talk about "The Bet" ...
Remember: THEME is the underlying message or truth(s).
The host of the party where the death penalty vs. life imprisonment debate happens, the banker bets the lawyer two million dollars to stay in solitary confinement for fifteen years.
: A young guest at the party, the lawyer bets that he can spend fifteen years in voluntary solitary confinement to prove that any kind of life is better than death.
The story begins at the Banker's mansion and continues in the guest house over the course of 15 years.
Character v. ____________
The conflict in "The Bet" is...
The Banker and the Lawyer get into an argument about the death penalty and life imprisonment. They do not agree and will never agree. They make a bet that the lawyer can't remain in solitary confinement for 15 years.
So what? What can the audience learn from this story?
Was the bet necessary to make the point?
Do you think the author is saying something about the death penalty and life imprisonment?
What truth can we pull from the story after hearing these questions and having this discussion?
Make sure you write a complete sentence describing the THEME of "The Bet" in your notes.
Before we look at "Doug's Special Mission", let's find out more about THEME.
DOUG'S SPECIAL MISSION
Our protagonist, who is a clumsy, yet kind dog.
the pack of dogs that tries to convince Doug to do random acts.
Our short film is set in an exotic land that Pixar created based on the beautiful landscape of Venezuela!
What is the conflict in "Doug's Secret Mission"?
Doug introduces himself to the audience and he is excited because it's his birthday!
When he finds out the other dogs are trying to catch the bird, he asks if he can help the pack.
He is assigned to meaningless tasks and useless jobs, then is reprimanded by the Alpha-dog. Doug feels ashamed and is saddened on HIS day - his birthday.
What message or truth can we gain from the short "Doug's Secret Mission"?
Is Doug an optimist or a pessimist?
Character who is positive, and sees the good in things.
Character who is negative, and sees the bad in things.
Perhaps you felt like the focus was more on the pack of Bad Dogs.
What lesson or truth can be learned from the actions of the dog pack?
Example of a THEME:
The THEME of karma [i.e. your fate is decided by your actions today] is clearly demonstrated by the pack of bad dogs' actions and how nature punishes them.
And, now to address THEME in our short film...
Do you think Pixar depicted Venezuela accurately?
This is one possible theme. Perhaps you see a different message/truth in this short...
Choose one of the short films we've watched and write three complete sentences describing it's THEME.
The short I chose is ____________________. One THEME in this short is...
I think this because...
The next aspect of the short story that we'll be covering is...
DEFINITION: When a character speaks with someone else.
The short film we'll be watching has unique DIALOGUE because the characters are speaking gibberish [a made-up language], yet their tone is very telling of what they're saying.
Our short film, called La Luna, has three characters:
While I don't want to give away any of the short, I want you to focus on the tone of Nonno and Papa's voices when they argue.
It's also important to know that Papa is Bambino's father, and Nonno is Bambino's grandfather [and Papa's father].
Now, for our feature short film - La Luna...
How do you know if a character in a comic is speaking?
Just as there are rules to help the audience understand who is speaking in a comic, there are rules for putting dialogue into short stories, which we'll cover.
The dialogue in La Luna adds:
_______ [choose your own adjective]
Describe Papa's voice:
Does he speak quickly or slowly? Does he seem to get frazzled? Does he yell or speak quietly? Would you consider Papa an optimist or a pessimist?
Describe Nonno's voice:
Answer the same questions from Papa's section, but for Nonno.
Recap of short story elements:
The key to truly understanding the short story is breaking each element.