Monday, November 18, 2013

Julia and her students

Julia Gousseva is the author of Moscow Dreams and other books, inspired by Russian culture and history. She is also a great teacher, always on the search of finding new ways to engage the minds of her students. I am so blessed that she chose excerpts from my books, and put them before her students. She gave them the following assignment:

Read the remaining materials posted under "Ideas and Story Plots" in Web Links. Then, follow the link below to read three short openings to three different stories by Uvi Poznansky. After you have done all your readings, return here and do the following three things:
  • From each of the three excerpts by Uvi Poznansky. quote *brief* phrases or specific sentences that show the desire/yearning/longing of the main character. Explain *how* those sentences/phrases set plot into motion.
  • Respond to at least one other student.
  • Come up with 2-3 questions to ask Uvi Poznansky about her writing, her books, the way she comes with plots, etc. After I grade your discussions, I'll choose the most popular and/or the most interesting questions and ask Uvi to answer them on my website.
Student responses:
  • "There is a vibrant longing..." When one gets a physical feeling it usually produces movement or shut down, but Poznansky used the word vibrant, and I imagine a shift in the character.
  • " Finally decided to walk through the door..." This character is ready to face the unknown, her fears by walking through the door.
  • "Something has been taken from me." That feeling or situation would evoke action in most people - to get it back,retribution, etc.
  • “He has lived, or rather, has confined himself within these walls for decades, for a reason unknown.” This sentence sets the plot into motion because it really opens up the readers mind to picture what the character has developed his life to, or actually decreased is life to. In just one sentence it says that he has “confined himself” and that in itself means that there are barriers that have been put up for whatever reason and that maybe the character is going to be facing some serious challenges.
  • “Her longing for him.” When I read this short line it immediately made me think of a desperate girl waiting for what she thinks is her night and shining armor. This plot could be set up as a girl is waiting for a guy that maybe doesn’t even know that she exists to just give her a chance and see that she is just right for him.
  • “My name? Identity? Who am I, then?” I think that this is a common couple of questions that not just characters, but people run into as well. This plot could be that the character is being tested on something and the outcome makes him question who he is and what he stands for.
  • From Home by Uvi Poznansky:  " There is a vibrant longing in him for the adventures of his early days."  I believe this is the most important part of the paragraph because it not only gives you some insight on his current situation of his life but also the focal point of his story. The things he did while he was young is what what drove hime to be reclusive yet he wants to relive those days.
  • From Twisted by Uvi Poznansky:  "Her longing for him." Although the shortest sentence in the paragraph I think it is the most important because early in the text it describes all of her journal entries falling out and fluttering everywhere and every single one of them deals with some unknown male. The importance lying in the fact that every thing mentioned so far by this protaganist is directly connected with him.
  • From Twisted Uvi Poznansky:  "Lying still in a corner of the cave, I try my best not to rattle, not to betray my fear. I figure, as long as they think me unconscious, I am safe." I think this is important because it gives you some detail about the current predicament the protaginist is in. It lets you know that she is afraid to even move or speak, something at least to me seems like important information.
  • From Home by Uvi Poznansky "He has lived, or rather, has confined himself within these walls for decades, for a reason unknown." I believe that this sentence sets the plot because it makes the reader question who the character is. I would want to know what his personality is and how his social life is. Based on this sentence I would think that he is a very independent, quiet person. Although, I would have to keep reading to find out.
  • From Twisted by Uvi Poznansky "She closed the book, placed it on the table, and finally decided to walk through the door." I believe that this sentence sets the plot because it allows the reader to believe that the character may be on her way to a new adventure. Based on this sentence, I would believe that the character is a spontaneous girl and wants to live her life.
  • From Twisted by Uvi Poznansky "At this moment I find myself overwhelmed, turned inside out by a sense of suspicion." I believe that this sentence sets the plot as well because some readers may relate to the position that the character is in right now. Everyone has had that feeling of being overwhelmed depending on the situation depends on how overwhelmed you are.
  • “In this stagnant place all sounds are muffled, all images erased—but for one thing: his youth. There is a vibrant longing in him for the adventures of his early days.” These two sentences show that the main character, an older man, is yearning for the “adventures of his early days.” Poznansky sets the plot into motion by introducing what the main character wants right away. Her main character has confined himself in a room for decades, with only his thoughts of his youth to keep him company. Deep down, he wishes he could relive, or live adventures similar to the ones he had when he was a younger man. To me, this says that the plot may be flashbacks or one long flashback about this old man’s adventurous past.
  • ”…releasing letter after letter into the air, filling its darkness with white feathery pages, rustling, whispering what she had written such a long time ago, what had been clamped—until now—between the front and back covers, as if it were a flower meant for drying. Her longing for him.” Poznansky’s main character in these sentences has loved a man in the past. We know this (if my assumptions are correct) because of the description of her diary (the gold-lettered word, love, on the spine) and because of the sentence, “Her longing for him.” In the sentences above, the main character is imagining what would happen if she dropped her diary down an empty elevator shaft. It would open, and what she had written so long ago would be released. Not just the physical pages and words, but her feelings as well. She had closed them off when she shut her diary, but she had not completely gotten rid of her feelings. She had preserved them, as a flower is preserved when it is dried. Maybe she knows that if she opens the diary, her longing for this man will return.
  • “I figure, as long as they think me unconscious, I am safe. I have jolted awake because of the voices, only to discover they are incoherent and muffled. In between the gusts of wind, I can hear them hissing. Each phrase plays out in some verbose foreign music, which I cannot decipher for the life of me…Something has been taken away from me…Who am I, then?” This main character has many desires: to be safe, to know who “the voices” are and what they are saying, to know what has been taken away from him/her, and to know who he/she is. This sets up the plot by providing questions to be answered, and putting the reader in the middle of the action/story.
Questions from the students:

What inspires you to write? Where do you get your creative ideas from? 
What do you like to read?
When did you realize you wanted to become a writer?
How do you come up with your opening lines?
What comes first to you, the character or the setting?
What point of view do you prefer to write your stories in and why?
How and when do you decide when your writings are complete?
How do you market your stories?

See my answers here

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