Instructions How to Write

Narrative Interpretation

In about 2 pages, write an essay arguing for your interpretation of any one of the short stories in The Seagull Book of Stories. As the “Introduction” to that book explains, an “interpretive essay” approaches a story as one type of persuasive text. Your task, then, in “interpreting” a story, is to find out what at least one underlying “meaning” of the story is and to explain that in a way that inclines readers to believe you. Remember, a storyteller is always trying to influence his/her readers to feel or think something. So, what is it, exactly, that you believe your author is trying to influence readers to feel or think through the story you chose? Format this essay in MLA Style.
1. Content/Ideas
• Give a brief, accurate summary in your introduction of the story you’ll be writing about; this should prepare me effectively for your particular interpretation
• State your thesis (which is your interpretation in a nutshell) clearly and near the beginning of your essay (ideally, at the end of your intro paragraph)
• Indicate clearly why the argument matters or could be of interest to readers—this is what TSIS describes as the “as opposed to what?” factor (TSIS 187); see also
“Finding your thesis” (SBOS xxxvi-xxxvii)
• Make a clear, thorough, and convincing argument for your interpretation, demonstrating careful thinking and/or original insights about the story and the author’s use of the elements of fiction
• Make sure your argument takes a stand on the text itself and its “meaning”—don’t just summarize the story or state facts about it; also, don’t argue your opinion on some topic or theme related to the story, only on what the author is trying to say about a topic or theme that you see in the story [See “Finding your thesis” (SBOS xxxvi-xxxvii); see also “Theme, Meaning, and Interpretation” (SBOS xxxvii-xxx)]
• Respond thoughtfully to alternate views of the story (what “they say”)—views
that disagree with some part(s) of your interpretation
2. Support and Organization of Ideas
• Support your points with clear and logical reasoning
• Give specific evidence from the story to support your points
• Explain how each piece of evidence supports the point you want it to support
• Organize your essay effectively: by making sure all paragraphs relate clearly to your main point and to each other; by making sure each paragraph stays on topic; and by transitioning effectively between major ideas, paragraphs, and sentences
3. Language and Style
• Demonstrate college level control of grammar, word choice, punctuation, mechanics, and spelling

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