Writing about “The Most Dangerous Game”

Z: I’m done with the draft.

K: Grunts incoherently. (She wonders if a draft done during a basketball team study hall can be any good.)

Minutes later

Z: It’s typed. Wanna hear it?

K: Silence. She nods slowly.

Z: I’m going to post this in my corner on your blog.

Z reads: "Richard Connell’s classic story, 'The Most Dangerous Game,' is about perilous competition. General Zarof has grown tired of hunting animals. He has a new game, the most dangerous game. He hunts human beings…"

K: Reread those first few sentences. That sounds good. How is that first sentence punctuated? Did you treat the title as an appositive?

Z: (He is smug.) Yes. I have a comma after story and one after game. I even put it inside the quotation mark.

K: (Laughs.) Well, awww right!

Z reads more: "General Zarof challenges victims who step foot on Ship-Trap island to a battle of wits and brawn that cannot be refused. In the beginning, Rainsford is on a ship with his hunting mates. Rainsford falls off the ship. He hears gunshots and swims toward the sound…."

He continues until he gets to the section where he tries to incorporate a quote.

K: Quotes have to be introduced. You can’t just plop ‘em in the paper. Try setting it up with some introductory words.

K explains what she means.

Z: OK.

Z sets the quote up with: "In one quote General Zarof says…."

K: That’s better.

Z continues reading, but K stops him after the second quote.

K: Can’t you say something different this time? You already said, “In one quote….”
Z: (A bit annoyed.) I don’t know what else to say.

K: Take some time to think about it. How do other writers do it?

Z: I’ll say it like this this time: "Another quote that created suspense read…"

K: That’s better. (K decides Rome wasn’t built in a day so she will not push it further.)

Z keeps reading.

K: I don’t know what those quotes you put in mean. How do I know what point the quotes are trying to support? Give me a sentence or something that helps me understand.

Z: Where?

K: Right after each quote you just read.

Z: Mom, it’s self-explanatory.

K: Not to me. I haven’t read that story since 1999. I don’t remember the story and can’t understand how those quotes support your argument about suspense and mood.

Z shakes his head slowly.

K wonders if he knows what she’s up to; does he know she’s trying to play the part of the average reader?
If he does, he doesn’t let on.

Z fixes some stuff and starts reading aloud again.

K: I want to hear it from the top.
(K whoops. Amens. & Hallelujahs at all of the good sentences. The ones that miss the mark she says, “I don’t understand” and Z has to rewrite it until she does.)

In the end, Z gets a product he is proud of.

A few days after the paper was submitted, K gets a text message from Z.

Z: Got an A on that paper.

K: You did?

Z: Yeah i got perfect on the 6+1 trauts (K knows he means Traits).

K: You had some good lines in there.

You’re a good writer.

Z: Yeah now i got to get grammar started. (Z has to write a mystery story for his grammar/composition class.)

K thinks he will write circles around her one day, but he doesn’t know that yet. He thinks he can only beat her at basketball.