Despite our ability to tell a great campfire story or write one down, there are always those authors who amaze us with what we learn to recognize. My own definitions of what constitute a great story are very broad and easy. A good story is a good story. I cannot simply resist the comparison, however, of something that was written by an author well-learned in the “serious” study of literary technique, to a common story written down. We as humans can consider reading fiction to be a great and healthy way to ease our minds, to break away, even if temporarily, from the ferocious and deadly things we sometimes call real life.
Just a few days ago, I got a new book on writing short stories. I have read many. This one impressed me, though; it was due to a parable that satisfied classic definitions of what techniques must be used to qualify a story as an acceptable literary composition, a draft any teacher, professor, or common reader would enjoy and be satisfied with. The most popular techniques necessary for a great story are plot (a series of events leading to a conclusion), symbol (an object that carries meaning or indication), characters, scene, time (events carry on and pass time). I always include a climax as a requirement, or leave the notion out of a story on purpose. These essential elements of a story formulate a tale’s theme. The book that I plan on reading, after I do a few more reviews (they take me weeks) is titled, “The Short Story and the Reader,” by T. S. Kane and L. J. Peters (both Oxford University English professors). Its ISBN: 0-19-501960-1. This parable is meant to be a praise of the first page.
So, without further ado or any comments related to Aesop, I will present to you an exciting and inspirational parable manufactured with close to no thought. Its requirements? To satisfy the elements mentioned above.
The Train Cave
During their time away from work, the two men decided to go outdoors. Dunne and Gravin sat atop what they thought would be a rather exciting place to describe their surroundings on paper by writing – the cave of a train. After hiking for quite some time that morning, they found the cave.
“Do you think we are on time?” asked Dunne. “Sure,” said Gravin, “We have to be a little early.” He checked his hand-drawn map given to him by a student he knew. She said the cave was easier to find in the daylight. The sun was bright, the breeze gentle and nice. Both men produced their writing pads and a pen immediately; the train would be there any minute.
“Only in an instance can we describe this falloque monster,” said Dunne. “I may just draw it” said Gravin. “That would be your most profitable contribution. It is going to come around that bend, and go right beneath us into the dark cave below,” said Dunne – the constant authority of all things known.
The two crazed persons ready, they felt the ground shaking. A horn “Chew-chewed,” and they heard the engine of a locomotive well on its way. Eyes focused dead on the turn below a hill in the tracks not too far away, the men were ready to write, to scribe and describe. The amazing old-timey passenger train roared right out of the cave at an enormous speed with great vibration.
“I guess we will write it the other way!” exclaimed Dunne in the wind of the noise. “Duly noted Doc,” said Gravin, “Duly noted!”