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August 13, 2007

PLOT: What is it? Why is it? Why does a writer care?

Answer any of the following questions, or ask and answer your own questions about plot.

  • How does John Barth define plot? Do you agree or disagree with his definition? Which parts of it seemed particularly useful or debatable?
  • How important is plot in your enjoyment of a story? Is it the most important thing, somewhere in the middle, or do you not care about it at all?
  • Could you describe the plot of one of the short-shorts we read in a single short sentence?
  • If you have written stories, do you think about plot first, or something else? Where do your plots "come from"?

9/4 Presentation: Stories, by John Edgar Wideman

Stories
by John Edgar Wideman

A man walking in the rain eating a banana. Where is he coming from. Where is he going. Why is he eating the banana. How hard is the rain falling. Where did he get the banana. What is the banana’s name. How fast is the man walking. Does he mind the rain. What does he have on his mind. Who is asking all these questions. Who is supposed to answer them. Why. Does it matter. How many questions about a man walking in the rain eating a banana are there. Is the previous question one of them or is it another kind of question, not about the man or the walking or the rain. If not, what’s it a question about. Does each question raise another question. If so, what’s the point. If not, what will the final question be. Does the man know any of the answers. Does he enjoy bananas. Walking in the rain. Can the man feel the weight of eyes on him, the weight of questions. Why does the banana’s bright yellow seem the only color, the last possible color remaining in a gray world with a gray scrim of rain turning everything grayer. I know question after question after question. The only answer I know is this: all the stories I could make from this man walking in the rain eating a banana would be sad, unless I’m behind a window with you looking out at him.

I will "present" this story on the first day of class in the same manner you will later present a short-short story or part of a story. There is no need to join the discussion before the presentation.