The purpose of these points is to get you engaged and invested in the stories. You will be entering into the stories instead of reading from the outside!
Who is the author?
Knowing a little about the author does not always help you understand the story or novel better; however, often there are clues in their brief biography that can lead to some insights.
Did the author grow up during a war or some other trauma?
What was their family life like?
What was their occupation?
Knowing a little about the author’s past and experiences can help you interpret their work more effectively. Regardless of how much their past is, or is not, revealed in the story, knowing a bit about them is interesting.
When was the story written?
Similar to knowing a bit about the author, knowing the time in which a story is written can provide you with clues. You should be aware of different cultural and social norms that were prevalent in those timeframes. These do not always reveal themselves in every one of the author’s stories, but they can be relevant, and they should be taken into consideration.
Look at the title of the story. Again, this does not always provide you with a lot of insight, but sometimes it does.
Also, it might not tell you much at first; however, somewhere within the text you might come across material that relates back to the title. Stop and think about the relationship. You might be surprised how much more depth you achieve.
It is always fun to see the revelation when it comes. Sometimes, it can be a true “a-ha!” moment in which several apparently disparate components of the story begin to make sense or change your views.
Not all stories have a protagonist or an antagonist. Often characters are more complex. Still, many novels and short stories do have at least one protagonist. See if you can determine who is the protagonist (or protagonists).
At any rate, who are the main actors in the story and what are their roles?
Ask yourself questions about the characters. Do they remind you of someone you know? Are any of the characters like you? Do they remind you of other characters you’ve met in stories or movies?
Do they fit a stereotype or trope?
Are their actions rational given their situation, or are they irrational? Why?
Do they learn and change or are they static?
Speaking of the action or plot, ask yourself questions here, too.
Is the story linear? In other words, do the events follow in chronological order? In many stories they do, but some stories have flashbacks or a more disjointed structure.
Regardless of how the story is structured, do the actions network together and to what degree?
Are there multiple plots? Are some plots more important than others?
As you read, find the answers to these questions while you continue to ask more – keeping the engagement level strong.
See if you can find some similes, metaphors, hyperbole, personification, and other literary devices. A careful author will make these count toward accentuating the characters, setting, and plot.
You don’t need to dissect every detail, but familiarizing yourself with these literary devices can enhance your reading experience.
Keep in touch! Let me know how your reading is going and what you’ve gained so far.