What is the story’s central conflict?
Who is the protagonist? What does he or she want?
What is at stake for the protagonist in the conflict?
What stands in the way of the protagonist’s easily achieving his or her goal?
What are the main events that take place in the story? How does each event relate to the protagonist’s struggle?
Where do you find the story’s climax or, crisis?
How is the conflict resolved?
Does the protagonist succeed in achieving his or her goal ?
What is the impact of success, failure, or a surprising outcome on the protagonist?
Point of View
How is the story narrated? Is it told in the third or the first person?
If the story is told in the third person, is the point of view omniscient or does it confine itself to what is perceived by a particular character?
What is gained by this choice?
If the story is told by a first-person narrator, what is the speaker’s main reason for telling the story? What does the narrator have to gain by making us believe his or her account?
Does the first-person narrator fully understand his or her motivations? Is there some important aspect of the narrator’s character or situation that is being overlooked?
Is there any peculiar about about the first- person narrator ? Does this peculiarity create any suspicions about the narrator’s accuracy or reliability?
What does the narrator’s perspective add? Would the story seem as memorable if related from another narrative angle?
Who is the main character or protagonist of the story?
Make a quick list of the character’s physical, mental, moral, or behavioral traits. Which seem especially significant to the action of the story?
Does the main character have an antagonist in the story? How do they differ?
Does the way the protagonist speaks reveal anything about his or her personality?
If the story is told in the first person, what is revealed about how the protagonist views his or her surroundings?
What is the character’s primary motivation? Does this motivation seem reasonable to you ?
Does the protagonist fully understand his or her motivations?
In what ways is the protagonist changed or tested by the events of the story?
Where does the story take place?
What does the setting suggest about the character’s lives?
Are there significant differences in the settings for different characters? What does this suggest about each person?
When does the story take place? Is the time of year or time of day significant?
Does the weather play a meaningful role in the story’s action?
What is the protagonist relation to the setting ?
Does the setting of the story in some way compel the protagonist into action?
Does the story’s time or place suggest something about the character of the protagonist?
Does a change in setting during the story suggest some internal change in the protagonist?
Tone and Style
Does the writer use word choice in a distinctive way?
Is the diction unusual in any way ?
Does the author tend toward long or short – even fragmented— sentences?
How would you characterize the writer’s voice? Is it formal or casual? Distant or intimate? Impassioned or restrained?
Can the narrator’s words be taken at face value? Is there anything ironic about the narrator’s voice?
How does she writer arrange the material? Is the information delivered chronically, or is the organization mare complex?
What is the writer’s attitude toward the material?
Which objects, actions, or places seem unusually significant?
List the specific objects, people, and ideas with which a particular symbol is associated.
Locate the exact place in the story where the symbol links itself to the other thing.
Ask whether each symbol comes with ready made cultural associations.
Avoid far fetched interpretations. Focus first on the literal things, places, and action in the story.
Don’t make a symbol mean to much or too little. Don’t limit it to one narrow association or claim it summons up any different things.
Be specific. Identify the exact place in the story where a symbol takes on a deeper meaning.
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