Twenty-First Century Storytelling

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"A man stood upon a railroad bridge in northern Alabama, looking down into the swift water twenty feet below (317)." 


"Among the few features of agricultural England which retain and appearance but little modified by the lapse of centuries may be reckoned the high, grassy and furzy downs combs, or ewe-leases, as they are indifferently called, that fill a large area of certain countries  in the south and southwest."


Bierce's Owl Creek Bridge is more popular with modern readers than Hardy's Three Strangers because Bierce's writing techniques and story structure are more common in twenty-first century storytelling.  Three Strangers begins in the traditional manner.  It introduces the reader to the scenery and the people at the party for the first several pages.  Owl Creek Bridge took the more dramatic approach, it jumped right into the action by showing a man waiting to be hanged.  The reader immediately knew what the story was going to be about, and the striking first few paragraphs draw the reader into the story.  Owl Creek Bridge introduced a new writing technique in 1891-the flashback.  Today the flashback is a common way to give readers background information that is necessary to the story but may not be as dramatic to read.  Both stories have hints leading to surprise endings; however, Owl Creek Bridge is more successful with modern readers because the hints are buried within the text.  Today, average readers notice character oddities that lead to surprise endings faster than background or scenery hints.  Television and movies have conditioned young people to focus more on who is doing the action rather than the scenery to create surprise endings, therefore, readers are able to pick up these hints faster in order to predict the story outcome.

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