A QUICK LESSON ABOUT “ELLIPSIS” (OR “JUMPING IN TIME”)
Battleship Potemkin, a 1925 Soviet silent film directed by Sergei Eisenstein, has been named the 11th greatest film of all time. According to Wikipedia, Potemkin “presents a dramatized version of the mutiny that occurred in 1905 when the crew of the Russian battleship Potemkin rebelled against their officers.” Shot in black and white, the film relies on “montage”–the process of selecting, editing and piecing together separate sections of film to form a continuous whole–to effectively dramatize the grand scenes taking place. In other words, it would be impossible for a camera to view everything, so it must be selective, showing viewers only the IMAGES it wants us to see.
Montage effectively edits by focusing only on the most important elements of the scene. A director can quickly jump from one image to the next, “splicing” them together so that the events appear to be happening in “real time,” but actually that time is compressed. Please watch this famous clip from the film to see what I’m talking about:
Odessa Steps (Battleship Potemkin)
User: n/a – Added: 9/10/12
Movie directors aren’t the only ones who rely on such “tricks” to play with time and presentation. Often, writers use a similar trick to get from one scene to the next without having to do what’s known as “moving furniture” — getting your character into a room, having him/her walk across it, etc., which can be quite boring for the reader. Instead of “montage,” however, in writing it’s called ELLIPSIS. Writers can physically “show” an ellipsis using white space between 2 different scenes [a “scene” is a unit of time in which a single action happens] or between moments in time. Sometimes they use an asterisk or some other symbol to show that time has ellipsed, like this:
As you read stories this semester, pay attention to the ways writers move their narratives through space and time. You can even see this happening when you watch TV shows or movies. How does the director get from one point to the next? One scene to the next?
The point is: Not everything that happens is interesting or exciting. How do you leave out the boring, dull parts? Using ELLIPSES is one way.
Briefly, tell me what IMAGES (definition: any vivid or picturesque picture) in the film SHOCKED YOU — and WHY did they shock you?
[You’ll notice I just used an ellipsis of a smiley face to move on to a new topic!]
This week we’re going to write our first flash story. Before we begin, however, as a good refresher please read the following wikihow on writing flash fiction:
Now, let’s take a look at a flash story for inspiration and examination. The following 2 links are for online literary journals that feature flash fiction. The first one, SmokeLong Quarterly, is an award-winning journal:
The second journal, 100 Word Story, features very, very short flashes! Recently, many of the stories published on this site were featured in a book called Nothing Short of 100.
Check out these 2 websites, simply looking over — and reading! — a few of the stories you find there. Once you’ve done that, we’ll look at a particular story which is NOT found on either of those sites ….
“Inner Thief“ is a flash fiction written by a Dutch woman named Claire Polders. Please follow along as she reads her story:
The story’s SETTING is a war-torn country, though we don’t know where or when.
Its CHARACTERS consist of a woman and her husband who run a grocery store.
The POV (point of view) is 3rd-person, told from the wife’s viewpoint/eyes.
Notice there’s not much dialogue (people speaking to each other, which the author denotes by using quotation marks), nor does much happen — essentially, the man is a morally/ethically strict businessman while his workers pilfer from him. His wife thinks she and her husband should do likewise pilfer just so they can get by (she is pregnant and needs to eat for two). But while the man’s integrity keeps him from taking (or “stealing”), the woman goes ahead and helps herself. Remember what we said about a character “wanting something” — in this case, the woman ”wants” to get by in this crazy, war-torn world … she wants food … she’s hungry!
Please choose one of the following stories from the SmokeLong or 100 Word Story websites and fill in the following blanks:
Name of the story: ___ (get the title from the story on the website – just choose 1 story!)
The story’s SETING is ____ (describe).
Its CHARACTERS are ___ (describe – be specific).
The POV (point of view) is ___ (1st, 2nd, 3rd), told from ___ (whose?) viewpoint/eyes. [If there is a character’s name, use it; or if there is no name, simply use the pronoun or description of who’s telling the story, “the farmer,” for instance, or “a young girl.”]
Write a 200-word (or less) flash story using the following elements. Each word MUST BE USED!
Your story should …
– be at least 200 words long (but not longer). To determine length (200 words), simply type your story out on a document and use your word count; then cut and paste the story into the main document you send me here on BB to turn in your Module work.
– have at least 2 characters
– have a CONTEMPORARY SETTING (i.e., the story should be set right now, 2018) – be sure you describe at least briefly WHERE it takes place
– be told from either 1st (“I”) or 3rd (he/she/it/name) point of view (POV)