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Story & Study: “Big Boost” by N. E. Chenier

I’m going to be changing this puppy up a bit as I’ve had more and more markets asking for my platform.  Okay, eek.  I find blogging rather exhibitionist and have a really hard time updating something as brief as Twitter.  On top of that, at this stage of mommy-hood, I have to squeak in my writerly time during naps and bedtimes–precious minutes I would much rather directly devote to the craft, so bear with me.

As a transition from the purely story-and-study-guide I’ve been dabbling with on this site to my own writerly platform, I’ve prepared a study guide for one of my own stories, “Big Boost“.  The piece went up over at Perihelion, another delectable source of free speculative fiction (mainly of the science variety).

This tale was 1/31 of a challenge posed by Absolute Write forums for the month of May (2011): write one flash piece per day for the entire month.  Most of my tales were inspired by prompts, most of which came from the speculative fiction generator.  On the first day of May, I got this prompt:

“The story’s protagonist is male and a beggar. A staircase plays a significant part in the story. The story is set in a bedroom in ancient times. The story is about movement.”

The first image that I started working with was that bedroom in ancient times–I saw a vast chamber, the size of a city, blued with ice.  The “beggar” turns out to be the impact character, while the main character was a bit of a slacker.  Early drafts left Josh with little to redeem him.  I discovered the best way to make a slacker sympathetic was to have him overcome his laziness through the course of the story, or at least shove it aside for the time being.

I hope you enjoy reading this one; I sure had fun writing it.  The study guide is appropriate for advanced language learners and/or high school students (with a language alert and reference to drugs and alcohol).


“Big Boost” Study Questions

1.  What is the setting of the story?

2.  Who are the main characters?

3.  What is the tone of the piece?

4.  How did the alien end up on the stairs?

5.  What is the alien species like?

6.  Why does the narrator take the alien to Track Mountain? (Why does the alien need to go there? Why is Josh’s motivation for taking him?)

7.  Who is Melanie? Even though she never makes an appearance, is she important to the story?

8.  The prompt calls for a staircase to play a significant role in the story. How is the staircase a significant part of the story?

9.  Part of the prompt calls for the story to be about “movement”. How does movement play into the story?

10.  What is the parallel between the alien and Josh?

11. Why does Melanie call back?  Is there hope for a reunion? Does it matter?







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