09 December 2007

What is good literature? - Gamma Rays post #1

This posting is due before class starts on Tuesday, Dec. 11

One of the most difficult questions you are asked in an English class is "What makes this a good piece of literature?" As we read The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds, we will ask ourselves that on a regular basis. There will also be an in class essay quiz that asks you to evaluate the quality of the play.

However, before you can come up with a good answer, you should have clear ideas for a definition of good literature. For this assignment, I'd like you to define the characteristics of good literature. Remember to avoid meaningless reasons like "it keeps me interested" or the like. Good literature, by definition, should keep you interested - you have to point out just what the author does to make it interesting. Think about the literary terms we studied with previous literature we've read. If possible, use some of them to help you craft a concise, clear definition. Once you have your definition, tell us your favorite piece of literature that we've read in class this year. Evaluate your selection using your criteria.

37 comments:

Anonymous said...

Authors must use many different techniques to write a good piece of literature. They are trying to keep the reader interested, so they must use suspense or foreshadowing. These elements make the reader want to finish what they are reading and not just leave the book. They must also make their characters as realistic as possible. If the characters in a story do things that real people wouldn't do, on a certain level, it seems too unrealistic. If the characters seem too unreal, the reader loses interest.

Colleen period 4

Miller said...

Students, good luck on this posting. Do not forget to list your favorite piece of literature we've read this year and briefly evaluate how or why it fits your criteria.

Anonymous said...

good literature is an authour who knows how to write interesting books. my favorite piece of literature was a seperate peace. i liked that book, i though he knew what to say to keep you waiting for the next big thing to happen. a big paet of lierature is the characters. if the seem to un real the book is not as good. if the characters are real then the book i sgood.

kyle per 6

Anonymous said...

Good literature is well riten like not being confusing and stay on the topick. Good literature is when you can conet to it. Like if something like this happen to you or someone you know like a friend of flimay maber were you make a conet to. Good literature also keeps you think of what will happen or why would he do that think like that.


per 6

Logan Vanacore said...

A good peice of literature is built on one solid topic has to have a hook to keep the writers attention. my favorite book we read this year would be a separate peace it had suspense wich kept me going.

Anonymous said...

To me, a good piece of literature has many important qualities. First off, a good piece of literature has a plotline that sparks an interest in the reader from beginning to end. The story has fun characters that all people can relate to and the setting and plot of the story builds suspense. If there is a lot of suspense leading the climax, it will intrigue readers and make them want to read. Also, there is only one major plotline. If there are a bunch of them [plotlines], then the reader is confused. The literature is explicit in explaining who, what, when, where, and why and the details surrounding the five W’s. Another good quality in a good piece of literature is it has a theme or message. This makes it possible to get a point across and change the way a person looks at things.

My favorite piece of literature so far this year was The Kite Runner because it was fascinating, had an interesting plot, and so many life lessons were taught in the process. I learned so much about Afghanistan in the 70’s and how one bad decision could really change a person’s life. It had a lot of foreshadowing and kept me guessing the entire time! (Foreshadowing is another important part of good literature.)

-Jenna, Period 6

Chelsea, period 4 said...

I think that for a piece of literature to be qualified as good, it has to include many things. I think good literature should include a life lesson the reader can be taught. I think in a good piece of literature, something should always be learned, or become of better understanding. The novel should keep your attention from the beginning all the way until the end. All questions the book has should be answered by the end. I also think that for a novel to be considered "good literature" it has to be somewhat realistic, or it should have the ability to be thought out in a realistic way. If you can't relate to a book at any point, you are going to have a much harder time understanding it, or realizing how much you may like it.
My favorite piece of literature that we read so far this year was The Kite Runner. It was exactly what I thought to be as good literature. It kept my attention, I learned many life lessons from it,I could relate to it at some points, and all questions I had throughout the book became clear to me at the end.

Anonymous said...

I think that a lot has to be put into a piece of writing before it can be called good literature. ONe thing that i think needs to happen is that it has to be catchy so that the reader satys interested, so they must use suspense or foreshadowing. If the aouthor includes these things thaen it will make the reader want to read on without puttinbg the book down becasue they want to know what is going to happen next. ONe thing that i think is cool in a piece of writing is if the author relates the story to something that happened to him so that peoplke can relate to what is going on. If the characters seem too unreal, the reader loses interest.

said annemarie period 4

Colin, Period 4 said...

In a time of novels filled with meaningless drivel, such as Gossip Girls, it is sometimes hard to pinpoint or even identify what it is that makes literature…symbolic, meaningful, emotional, loathed, adored, admired, or sentimental…in other words, good. I cannot speak for what others look for in literature, but I think some traits are universal in all superb novels. Of tantamount importance is the ability for the reader to relate in some way (whether it be a place, person, thing, or act) to the novel. A reader cannot even begin to hope to enjoy a book without feeling some deep-seated connection to it. Second, though no less important, is the ability of the author to keep the reader interested in their story. A reader does not want to waste time reading something that bores them; something with no suspense, drama, or controlled and precise plotting. The author must use certain literary tools in their repertoire in order to keep the interest. Tools such as foreshadowing, cliff hangers, switches in narrative voice, and plot twists all lunge out and grab the reader’s attention whenever they materialize. A perfect example of all the aforementioned literary traits is A Separate Peace. ASP has a wide range of characters that anyone can relate to, as well as events, thoughts, and emotions that are common in all mankind. The author also uses foreshadowing and cliff hangers liberally, always ending a chapter with a sneak peek of what is to come next.

Anonymous said...

I believe the most important thing that makes a good piece of literature what it is, is the characters. If the characters in a novel are uninteresting or get everything they want and desire, then the novel isn't as interesting. In real life no one gets everything they want, so to write a novel about a person who does would be ridiculous. No one would be able to relate to the character, and that doesn't make for much of a novel. The character must also learn something along the way of their so called journey. A lesson must be learned about life. Novels should have a deeper meaning to be seen as good literature. If you write a book about a puppy who wants its bone, it's too simple. Only little children will want to read it because it seems interesting to them. I believe that A Separate Peace was a very good novel. The characters were interesting, complicated people. And although Finny did get most of what he wanted, which goes against what I was saying, he eventually does not. It's almost as if he was too good to be true. The novel dealt with jealously and that's something we all can relate to.

lindsay per. 4

Anonymous said...

To me a good piece of literature has to do with the characters in the book. The characters in the novel have to be interesting, adventurous, and outgoing for me to be interested in the novel. You shouldnt be able to relate to a character in a book because then its not interesting and you aren't learning about how different people act. A lesson must be learned about life. Novels should have a deeper meaning to be seen as good literature.To me the book, A Separate Peace was a very good book. The characters were interesting, and were different.


kendall milles
period 6

Kristina Period 4 said...

Making a book a good piece of literature involves many things. You need to make the story have a certain hook to readers when they read the first page. It should catch the attention of the reader and hold it until the end with questions that need to be answered or suspense that should be solved. The author uses literay terms to make the story a good piece of literature such as foreshadowing or using reality as their source. Good literature comes from an author who can keep the reader interested from the beginning, through the middle, and until the end.

My favorite piece of literature we ahve read so far would be A Seperate Peace because it made me figure out the meanings of what the author was trying to say in the book. It let me make my own opinons and ideas of what I think the story could be telling. A Seperate Peace was a good piece of literature because it kept the reader's attention and kept you guessing of what might happen next.

Jostlyn per.4 said...

To me a good piece of literature is having a good hook in the begining of the book. Also the book should have suspense,and a good setting description and conflicts. I think that these things should be in a book because they provide a good backgroud so that you can understand the book. Also if I were to read a book that the characters had perfect lives the book wouldn't be very believable because no one has a perfect life. Also the book would be boring. I think that a separe piece was good literature because it had all of these qualities in it.

Anonymous said...

What makes a good piece of literature is when the author makes you want to know what happens next. A piece of literature should have a hook at the beginning, a climax, and an end. The piece of literature should also have conflicts. If the piece of literature did not have these, it would be incredibly boring. When you read a piece of literature, you should be able to relate to them, or they should not be unrealistic. If you can’t relate to the characters or if they are unrealistic, you won’t want to read the piece of literature. My favorite piece of literature that we have read so far in class has been A Separate Peace. This piece of literature had an interesting hook, climax, and end. It also had conflicts and cliffhangers. The characters in the piece of literature were realistic and you could relate to some of the things they felt and thought.

Megan Period 6

Macy P.4 said...

My favorite piece of literature this year has to be Kite Runner. I found Kite Runner to be a book that sticks. By that I mean a book that you won’t forget fast, only certain books have that strength. The greatest books that make good literature are books that become timeless. Many generations read the books that become timeless. Usually people can relate to these books and even become inspired by them. I believe that really good literature is hard to find, especially with all the books being written today. They are the books that make you wonder or even open your mind to something completely new. A good piece of literature should be complete, it should have a interesting start and intense middle and full end. There are many more aspects of a good piece of literature but I believe these few points make the best works.

Anonymous said...

A good piece of literature is something that keeps a reader interested. A good piece of literature will do this is many ways. One important thing that a good piece of literature must have is a well described setting. The author should use feelings and senses to make a reader understand the background of the story. A reader should feel as if they are actually there in the story. Another thing that a good piece of literature should have is a plot that keeps a reader wanting to continue. A plot with surprises and unexpected events will keep a reader interested. Plots that have a climax keep a reader wanting to read on. The characters of a good piece of literature should be relatable to the audience and have the readers wanting to know the characters more.

My favorite piece of literature that we have read so far is A Separate Peace. John Knowles did all of the things in that book that made it a good piece of literature. It kept the reader’s attention and was able to gain the attention of a vast audience.

Maria Period 6

Mike k p6 said...

Good literature is always interesting because it always brings something new to the reader. People don’t want to read the same story over and over again so they read something new that catches their attention from the beginning and keeps them reading. Good literature must always have moral to the story. People want to learn from books so they want to be taught from the meaning of the story. People want to learn a lesson from reading literature that they don’t experience in real life. Good literature also sometimes reflects on the flaws or problems of mankind and shows how these problems affect our society and what we can do about them. The best writers have created stories using flaws of mankind to show people what the flaws are. My favorite peace of literature that we’ve read so far is A Separate Peace. IT is unlike any book I’ve read so far because it shows how envy can hurt the ones we care about when we can’t control our emotions. It also shows the flaws of a coming of age boy and he unexpected actions towards his best friend.

Anonymous said...

I believe that a good piece of literature has to have an interesting beginning, middle and I like stories with a twisted at the end and or leaves the story hanging. This allows you to use your imagination and choose what happened to the characters with the ending. I also think that a good piece should have a well described setting and time of the story so you can get a picture of what is going on in the story. That’s my opinion on that a good piece or literature.

Andrew Per.4

Anonymous said...

Authors use many different techniques to make a good peice of literature. The techniques that i think make a good peice of literature are for one forshadowing. I expesially like this technique because pretty much gives you the answer at the begining, then it tells you how it applies to the situation at the end of the novel. I like this because it gives you that "wow never saw that coming" feeling. I also like literature that has alot of suspense so it keeps me interested. A good peice of literature is definetly "a page turner".

So far my favorite peices of literature that we have read in class has been A Separate Peace and The Kite Runner becuase they both have alot of suspense and use forshadowing very well.

-Mike P. P-4

Anonymous said...

Good literature is created by blending many techniques used by authors to keep one interested. One of these techniques is the use of foreshadowing. This gives the novel suspense and entices readers to keep reading. Another technique that authors use is symbolism. I personally like symbolism because it can give almost mundane things a new point of view and give them greater more significant meaning. This also can be used to highlight the moral or lesson of the story which is another thing good literature has. All good literature has a meaning, it all has some sort of lesson or wisdom to be imparted onto the reader. Lastly, character development is used by authors to make good literature. They create a character that evolves throughout the story and gives them depth and allows the reader to connect to them based on their changing views and personality.

My favorite pieces of literature this year have been A Separate Peace and the short story "The Happy Man." I liked A Separate Peace because it had alot of foreshadowing which kept me reading and it also showed character development which allowed me to connect to the characters. It allowed me to connect to Gene and see him almost as a real person which also intrigued me. I also liked "The Happy Man" because I believe it used some form of symbolism. It let me see emotion in a different light. It showed me that too much of any emotion can be crushing which I had not thought of before.

Dom D Per-4

Kevin p4 said...

I believe that having the ability to relate to a story is what drives most people to like a story and consider it "interesting", for the profound emotions that it elicits are favored to be utilized in finding a deeper truth to one's past, present and future occurences. Simply, if piece of literature is not at all associated with some form of a significant event in one's lifetime, where that person strives to find answers, or a second opinion for, then he/she will be uninterested; reading is equivalent to one-on-one socializing-the conversations are truly about oneself and his/her needs until satisfaction, rather than charity for the other. Out of all that we had read in English 10 this year, my favorite piece of literature must have been "The Happy Man" mainly because of its philosophical depth. I'm someone who is, above all else, fathomlessly absorbed in abstract thinking and discovering the reasons of why us humans are here, our duties, etc. Therefore, I must have found this book so intriguing because the author was accelerating a message of philosophy: happiness is all that's important(essentially).

Anonymous said...

A piece of good literature has many different components. There should be a deeper, symbolic meaning underneath the literal level of the story. Also, the author should use suspense and unexpected twists and turns in the stroy in order to keep the reader interested. The reader should be able to relate to at least one of thr characters so that they have a better understanding of what is going on in the story. It helps them to get more excited about what they are reading if they can relate to what they are reading. My favorite piece of liturature that I read this year was Thhe Kite Runner because the author included all of these key elements of good liturature and created an entertaining and meaningful novel. Good liturateure should also require some deeper thought, and that is excatly what The Kite Runner did.
Emily Period 6

Kenny W. P-6 said...

Good Literature is something that is written that incorporates such things as a good theme, a good amount of characters but not to the point where you lose track of them, a setting that give you a good visual picture, an interesting plot, and enought figurative language so it doesnt sound like a 5th grade book. If all those things are incorporated in a piece of literature then it will be pretty good.

Anonymous said...

Good literature, includes many key concepts. Literature includes a plot, an intro and is full of hooks. Conflicts, are also important. Conflicts allow for a reader to substitute a character, for themselves. Along with conflicts, good literature, allows some people to relate to a character, or a character's action. The short story, "The Lie", consisted of the main character, not wanting to enter a certain school, his relatives all went to, as kids. He lies to his parents about being accepted and eventually he wins. When I graduated WIS, I was supposed to go to Notre Dame. I obviously didn't. This story, allowed me to relate to the plot. It kept me wanting to read, and included many conflicts. It required a large amount of in-depth "questioning" about character actions and the different settings.

-Sean H Period 4

Sujata. per4 said...

Some of the characteristics of good literature are:
Author should be very descriptive about the setting. It's nice to be able to visualize the place in your head. It makes reading a lot more fun. Also, the author should have some hook tied at the beginning of the story. That's when the reader decides whether to read it or not most of the times. There should be a good theme to the story. Otherwise, there is no point on reading it. There should be some element in it that makes the reader want to keep the page turning. The ending should not be too obvious. There should be some new twist to the story as it progresses. The characters used on the story should seem real. For example, the choices they make, their attitudes towards others should be realistic no matter what time place it is set on. Also, the author should have the ability to draw some kind of emotional response from the reader as the story goes on.

My favorite piece of literature we have read so far was A Separate Peace by John Knowles. I was able to easily connect to the characters. The decision that Gene makes were realistic and showed much to our human nature. The author did a good job reaching the theme with a nice plot. There were symbols and other figurative languages used throughout the novel. The book was exciting and at certain times I felt for the characters.

Dave Per 4 said...

There are a lot of things that make up good literature. The writer has to know how to keep a reader reading on, by using an array of literary techniques. Some of these techniques are irony, satire, similies, and metaphors. If a writer could use these things to his or her advantage, then he/she has succeeded.
Another part of good literature is that the story must have a good plot. You have to get the reader to think. What could happen? What is going to happen? What should happen? Make the reader come up with their twist on the story. Also, a writer could relate something to their story, even if it is a fictional story, to the real world. You could be talking about human nature and a war at the same time, like in A Separate Peace. This will help the reader understand the central message or them of the novel. Finally, make the reader paint a mental picture as to the plot of the story. Vivid describtions could help with this process.
I would have to say that my favorite book we have read for English 10 is the Kite Runner. I really liked the Kite Runner, because the author sent a message to all the readers, which was the evil of human nature and the world. Khaled Hosseini used vivid describtions to help with the image of his novel, and his plot line was genius, but it could be followed. It really is a great piece of literature.

Charlotte, Per4 said...

I believe good literature should include some important qualities. First, it should have a good hook, atht will make the reader want to read further. I know that if a book doesn't have a good hook than i won't continue reading it, no matter how good people tell me it is. If i get bored with the first 50 pages then i will stop reading it and pick up a new book. Secondly, good literature should conect to real life, even if it is make believe. For example Harry Potter if Make believ but it can connect to real life because it shows a disfunctional family like The Effect of Gamma Rays on the Man-on-the-Moon Marigold. Only in Harry Potter, Harry is living with his aunt, uncle and nephew because his parents dyed. They treat him like a rat. SOome unfortunate people may be able to connect to him.
Lastly, to be a good piece of literature it should inspire. No matter how big they impact it should always inspire you.

Anonymous said...

To be a good piece of literatire has many characteristics. Good literature must havea good plot, a good setting, and good characters. I think a good piece of literature is the book A separate Piece. It has a good setting of a bording school. Good characters that make the stroy interesting. Lastly it has a good plot. It shows how Finny is almost in denial and lioves in his own little world were nothing goes wrong. And you have Gene who is a worry wort kind of regular person.

Pat period 6

neka,per 4 said...

There are many things that make up good literature.In literature there has to be all good parts in the story like thmain parts and good characters because all of that just makes it easier to see the story form different points of veiws.The story has to some way kind of make the reader draw connections and it will make it alot better for the reader to understand.It has to have a good plot because the plot is like the main build to a story.From the plot many things can happen ...it can either be a good storyu that wil make the reader want to read on and on ,or it will just be a completely bad story and the readre wll not want to read on.So as long as teh story includes all the main parts and a good plot the story should be a good peice of literature.

Anonymous said...

For something to be considered good literature it has to include good descriptions of people, places, and events. It doesn't necessarily have to have a great story but some coherent time line of events should be present as well as literary techniques such as foreshadowing. Metaphors and similes are effective ways to describe characters and setting which every good author will make use of. The plot should have some kind of conflict otherwise it may not have a way to keep the reader going until the end.

Josh period 4

Anonymous said...

For something to be considered "good" literature would mean that it always keeps your attention on the book. No matter how the story changes, you should always be interested in what is going on. I guess you could say good literature is something you "can't take your eyes off of." Another important factor in being considered "good" is detail. If a book does not contain detail it basically shouldn't be considered a piece of literature because no one wants to read something boring and dull. Authors who use all of this usually make "good" literature. My favorite piece of literature that we read so far in class is A Seperate Piece by John Knowles. It contained good detail and was interesting enough to keep me involved. Usually, i get sick of a book and put it down but this one was actually interesting. It delt with a lot of emotion and made you think and wonder what could have been running through the characters heads. Overall, I like ASP because it was good literature.

Theresa p4

justin per 6 said...

for something to be considered good literature it needs to have a lot of things. One is that it needs to have a good lesson in it, something that the reader can learn from. Also itshould be very suspencful and should really make the reader think and want to keep reading. The writing also should be veru descriptive so that way the readers can really picture what the author is trying to get across. Overall a good piece of literature should have a good life lesson and it should be very suspencful.

lvanacore said...

i do not declare this play a peice of literature because literature is a book to me and not a play. but above all it is good.

Jenn said...

This is a grade 10 classroom? The responses are so basic I'm shocked that 90 percent of you haven't simply failed.

fuck you jenn said...

fuck you jenn

mbcouser said...

I am also reading this book as an Accelerated (Honors) English 10 class in PA. What makes a good piece of literature? and how does A Separate Peace show signs of a good piece of literature?
A great piece connects and interests a reader through a hook. Once it has the reader's attention, it introduces a conflict. The main character, most likely the protagonist, relates to the reader in numerous ways. Then, antagonist(s) is/are introduced. Finally, the conflict is ended by some sort of solution, leaving the reader to ponder the theme of the book.
A Separate Peace demonstrates many elements of literature. It is a good piece, because it has those elements. As the reader, I related to being a high school student. I also related to the character of Gene. Then, the popular conflict strikes- the decision of school or sports? Many people relate to this conflict, thus, enriching the novel's effectiveness. Many important themes take place. A theme is any concept that occurs throughout the book tham expresses a truth in humanity. A Few themes include: war and peace, denial, innocents leads to personal growth, close friendships can be destructive, and so on. While these themes reach all of us readers differently, they all still have important lessons and meanings in our lives. This is the center of a great peice of literature.
I'm not sure if this message will reach you.. please comment on anything....

PS

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