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Fiction Essay Instructions

Fiction Essay Instructions


In Module/Week 3, you will write a 750-word (about 3–4-pages) essay that compares and contrasts 2 stories from the Fiction Unit. Before you begin writing the essay, carefully read the guidelines for developing your paper topic that are given below. Review the Fiction Essay Grading Rubric to see how your submission will be graded. Gather all of your information, plan the direction of your essay, and organize your ideas by developing a 1-page thesis statement and outline for your essay. Format the thesis statement and the outline in a single Word document using current MLA, APA, or Turabian style (whichever corresponds to your degree program). You have the opportunity to submit your thesis and outline by 11:59 p.m. (ET) on Monday of Module/Week 2 for instructor feedback.

The essay is due by 11:59 p.m. (ET) on Monday of Module/Week 3 and must include a title page (see the General Writing Requirements), a thesis/outline page, and the essay itself followed by a works cited/references page of any primary or secondary texts cited in the essay.  

Guidelines for Developing Your Paper Topic


Chapter 39 in your textbook provides some helpful pointers for reading actively, taking notes, brainstorming, developing a clearly-defined thesis statement, preparing an outline, and writing a cogent fiction essay. Be sure that you have read the chapter before doing any further work for this assignment.


Choose 2 of the following short stories to compare and contrast in your essay:

·         â€œThe Lottery” by Shirley Jackson

·         â€œThe Destructors” by Graham Greene

·         â€œThe Rocking-Horse Winner” by D.H. Lawrence

·         â€œYoung Goodman Brown” by Nathaniel Hawthorne

·         â€œThe Child by Tiger” by Thomas Wolfe

·         â€œThe Most Dangerous Game” by Richard Connell


Also, make at least 1 of these elements of fiction the focus of your essay:

·         Conflict/Plot/Structure

·         Characterization

·         Setting

·         Theme/Authors’ Purposes

·         Point of View

·         Tone/Style/Irony/Symbol/Imagery


If you need help focusing your essay, ask yourself questions that correspond to your chosen element(s).


Conflict/Plot/Structure (This is not a summary of the stories)

·         What are the basic conflicts, and how do these build tension, leading to major complicated incidents and climactic moment(s)? 

  • What are the ways in which each major character experiences conflict (either with self, with other characters, or with the social and/or physical environment)? 

·         How are the conflicts resolved? Do the protagonists succeed in achieving their goals? 

·         Who receives your deepest sympathy and why?



  • Who are the main characters in the stories?
  • What are their outstanding qualities? Does the author give any indication as to how or why the character developed these qualities?
  • What are the characters’ emotions, attitudes, and behaviors? What do these indicate to the reader about the character?
  • Can the characters’ motivations be determined from the text?



  • Where and when do the stories take place (remember to include such details as geographic location, time of year, time period, if the setting is rural or urban, etc.)?
  • Do the settings make the stories believable or credible? How does setting impact the plot of the story, and how would the plot be affected if the story took place in another setting?
  • Are the characters influenced by their setting? How might they behave if they were in a different setting?
  • What atmosphere or mood does the setting create (for example, darkness may create a mood of fear or unhappiness while light or bright colors may create one of happiness)?
  • Is the setting or any aspect of it a symbol or does the setting express particular ideas?
  • Does setting create expectations that are the opposite of what occurs?


Theme/Authors’ Purposes

  • What is the major theme (or themes) of each story?
  • Are the themes of the stories similar or different?
  • How does the author convey the theme (or themes) to the reader?
  • How do the stories’ themes relate to the authors’ purposes (some examples of author purposes are to entertain, to satirize, to realistically portray life’s problems, to analyze emotions and responses, and/or to communicate a moral message)?
  • What unique style, techniques, or devices do the writers use to communicate their themes? 



  • How would you describe the tone of the piece?
  • Does the tone correspond with the action occurring in the plot?
  • What style does the author use (for example, one way an author might satirize is by including a lot of ironies, hyperbole, and unrealistic scenarios)?
  • How might the story be different if the tone or style is changed?
  • Does the writer use irony or symbols to communicate the message?

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