Questions for *How to Tell a True War Story*

Some Questions for Tim O’Brien’s “How to Tell a True War Story”
Your name _______________________________________________________________
Support your responses below with ideas, reasons, specific details and evidence from the text.
1) How would you describe the plot of this story? Remember that “plot” is the sequence
or order or structure of events.
2) Thinking as a fiction writer, and considering the kinds of choices writers must
inevitably make, why would O’Brien go with the kind of plot you’ve described above?
Why would a writer chose such a structure for his/her narrative? (Read like a writer!)
3) Who are the story’s main characters? What is the main character’s issue or problem?
Who is the main character?
4) How important is setting in this story? What are some interesting, strange, moving,
thought-provoking, or otherwise resonant details of the setting?
5) Why does the writer include the details you identified in #4 above? Out of all the
possible details in that particular setting, why has he allowed us to see (or hear, or
smell) THOSE details? What is the effect of those details on the reader? Again: read
like a writer.
6) The title of this piece suggests that the story will ultimately explain or give
instructions for telling a true war story. So—how DOES one tell a true war story?
What are the particular difficulties, according to this narrator, in telling the events of
war? What is this narrator saying about “truth” and how we understand it?