Experience Before Writing | A Wasted Hour

Jeffrey Howard Archer takes advantage of the ethos of John Steinbeck, to give a piece of advise: Gain experience before writing.
Firstly, I will try to clarify the type of text, secondly I will analyse the narration, the point of view and characterisation, finally I will take a look at the message, title, theme and give a conclusion.

The text “A Wasted Hour” (2017) is a fictitious short story, part of a collection of short stories called Tell Tale, and written by Jeffrey Howard Archer. The story is a limited third-person narration, since it is told by an unknown narrator with limited knowledge.

The narrator provides the reader with information about Kelley’s thoughts and feelings. However, when it comes to John, the narrator is not generous with insights on his inner thoughts and feelings. Rather, the narrator describes John through Kelly´s perspective, and herewith largely poses as an observer on the encounters she experiences.

For instance, this can be seen in the following: “…taking one hand off the wheel to shake hands with her. The rough hands of a farm labourer, was her first thought.” (l. 50).

When it comes to narrative modes, the narrator uses considerable passages of dialogue, which allows the narrator to show how the characters are (such as personality, feelings and actions), instead of just describing how the characters are. In a sense, John actually also officiates as part of the narration, since he (through dialogue) looks back on his own life-experiences.

After each dialogue, the narrator occasionally comments. The dialogue is in present tense, whereas the comments are described in past tense. Additionally, by use of quotation marks, the comments can be seen and distinguished from the dialogue. “ ‘I don’t think you’ll be flunking your exams,’ said John with a chuckle, which gave Kelley the opportunity to begin her interrogation.” (ll. 72-73).

The most significant characters in the story are Kelley and John. Kelley’s parents and several people whom she met while hitchhiking, are also mentioned, but none of them play any significant role in the story, and as a consequence hereof, only John and Kelly will be analysed.

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