The Fault in Our Stars: Ridiculous Over-Analysis

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Important Disclaimer: We do not own any of the copyrighted content.

 

Chapter One

Excerpt taken from: Chapter One, First Page

Authors who are shamelessly attempting this: James Sterling, Christian Walker

Excerpt:

(1)Late in the winter of my seventeenth year, my mother decided I was depressed, presumably because I rarely left the house, spent quite a lot of time in bed, read the same book over and over, ate infrequently, and devoted quite a bit of my abundant free time to thinking about death.

Extreme Analysis:

  1. The first sentence is quite long, actually, but it has a big “Bam!” at the end. The “Bam” we’re talking about is the word death. So much power in that one word. At first glance, someone would assume this to be a boring book… the protagonist isn’t doing anything extraordinary like fighting a villain or running from the cops. But this goes to show that one simple word, one great ending can turn a story around completely. In this case, John Green did it in the first sentence.

 

Our Attempt:

Quick Note: We will be making our own story, of course. It will be about a boy who found out he has a rare disease and only has six months to live……

August had come again, but this year I dreaded going skinny dipping in the lake with all the hot chicks, spending late nights hanging with my pals and getting wasted, crashing the local college frat parties (even though I was only sixteen), all because none of it would matter six months from now when I would be dead in a casket. That was a guarantee.

Your turn:

Now, it’s your turn. Take the excerpt and create your own story using the input we’ve given you. One step at a time you’ll subconsciously remember all the details, and that way when you write a novel, you’ll have an idea of how to entice the reader.

**

Excerpt:

(1)Whenever you read a cancer booklet or website or whatever, they always list depression among the side effects of cancer. (2)But, in fact, depression is not a side effect of cancer. (3)Depression is a side effect of dying. (Cancer is also a side effect of dying. Almost everything is, really.) (4)But my mom believed I required treatment, so she took me to see my Regular Doctor Jim, who agreed that I was veritably swimming in a paralyzing and totally clinical depression, and that therefore my meds should be adjusted and also I should attend a weekly Support Group.

Extreme Analysis:

  1. In sentence number one, the protagonist tells us what she has. It’s a continuation from the opening sentence. As it should be. The reader wondered – Why is she thinking about death? And now we know. But also, notice how she says “they always list depression among the side effects of cancer” this, again, refers back to the opening sentence when she said her mother thought she was depressed.

 

  1. Here, in sentence two, she counterclaims what is believed to be true. Her mother, a cancer booklet, a website, and many people believe that depression is a side effect of cancer But the protagonist does not. Already, this shows some hope in her that cancer isn’t what causes her depression…if she is truly depressed.

 

  1. In this sentence, she doesn’t completely discard the idea of depression. She gives it a reversal definition, for lack of a better term and then she added “Almost everything is, really”. Believe it or not, that simple phrase gives the character a personality. So far the reader can see that she isn’t blaming her cancer for the way she is or what she does. This gives the reader hope for the character’s health even when the circumstances seem so dark.
  2.  

  3. The next sentence is telling us the result of her mother worrying. The parent took action, and, even though the protagonist doesn’t think she is depressed, everyone around her does. Another thing, here is where the main point of the story comes in: The Support Group. The author didn’t wait till page two to tell us. He told us immediately.

Our Attempt:

Riobactunitus was what they called it. Clearly they made the name up just to fit what I had. A “form of cancer” is what the doctor said, but believing him wasn’t easy, especially because no one else in the world had what I had…supposedly. But, I call bull for what his revolutionary statement. My dad seemed happed to finally have a name for it, but I, I call it death. Side effects: Weakness in lower half of the body, deteriorating immune system, and a sure fire way to repel hot women. Dad felt sorry for me. The first time he showed he called ever since mom passed away. Probably from the same disease. No one would ever know, though. He forced me to attend this teenage worship service for a month, so I went, and found out I was in for a long month. Why couldn’t I have died on the train ride here?

Your turn:

Now it’s your turn. Have your character state what condition they have. Use a distinctive voice. However you tell the reader the disease, is how they will get the first impression of your protagonist. In The Fault in Our Stars, the main character sounds a little hopeful and a bit in denial at the same time. In our attempt, the main character seems angry and frustrated, more with his father than the actually disease. So allow the protagonist to show an ‘attitude’ towards their predicament. Happy (most likely not), sad, depressed, hopeful, in denial; the list goes on.

**

Excerpt:

(1)This Support Group featured a rotating cast of characters in various states of tumor-driven unwellness. (2)Why did the cast rotate? A side effect of dying.

(3)The Support Group, of course, was depressing as hell. (4)It met every Wednesday in the basement of a stone-walled Episcopal church shaped like a cross. (5)We all sat in a circle right in the middle of the cross, where the two boards would have met, where the heart of Jesus would have been.

(6)I noticed this because Patrick, the Support Group Leader and only person over eighteen in the room, talked about the heart of Jesus every freaking meeting, all about how we, as young cancer survivors, were sitting right in Christ’s very sacred heart and whatever.

Extreme Analysis:

  1. The first sentence, author uses a bizarre use of language. Adding the word “characters” instead of “patients” or “people” and “tumor-driven unwellness” instead of “cancer sickness” or “illness”. These play of words makes the following paragraph interesting. It raises a question in the readers mind “What does he mean by this sentence?” The point of the opening sentence is for the protagonist to state what happens at these meetings. It’s sounds like she’s making fun of the processes. Again, this is good characterization and the author’s distinctive voice is clearly being heard.

 

  1. Questions are important when writing a book. A book without raising some kind of question is like, well a boring book. Already, the author managed to raise a few question, but in this sentence he asks it directly, and then answers it without almost a joke. “Why did the cast rotate?” (The reader had already been wondering what he meant by that) “A side effect of dying.” Again, see how he took something considered serious in the first paragraph and made a joke about it in this paragraph. Well, maybe it’s not a joke but it’s clearly sarcasm.

 

  1. She reminds the reader what the group is called. Even though the protagonist doesn’t necessary like being here, she called The Support Group by its name instead of giving it a funny name. Unlike the previous sentence, where she added sarcasm, she showed respect where it is due. It shows that she’s mature enough to understands the reasons why she’s there and she understands what they’re trying to do for the patients, but she just can’t get into it the way her father hope she could. Also, the protagonist uses the word depressing again. This time, she calls the place boring, not her condition.

 

  1. Location, Location, Location! Perfect, John Green. He’s right on the ball. Give the reader a sense of setting immediately. We now know where they meet and what it looks like. We don’t have an idea of what year it is because he didn’t tell us directly, but we can assume it’s in the 21st century by the details she gives.

 

  1. Symbolism alert! Yes, whether the author did this consciously or not, this is a clear symbolism. The group meets in that exact place for a reason. This sets the mood of the story quickly. They are at the heart of what many people believe to be a perfect being who can save humanity: Jesus. Maybe sitting there can help save them, at least that’s what the instructor of the group believes. He didn’t sit in the back of the church or in a random empty room, no… he sat by the (would have been) heart of Jesus.

 

  1. Ah, yes, the next sentence proves the symbolism. Here, the protagonist also tells the reader who’s in charge. Patrick, the leader of the group and already we know he is passionate about Jesus. The protagonist doesn’t seem to share his same passion, however, she comes off as being irritated and annoyed. This gives us an idea of where she wants to be. She rather be in her room reading a book then here. The author does a marvelous job with this. A book is nothing with a change in the protagonist. So far she is annoyed, irritated and seems a bit closed off. Over time, something or someone will have to loosen her up and the reader will get to experience that journey.

 

Our Attempt:

The Teenage Worship Service had an increasing rate or internal devastation. How is it internal devastation? Because of a deteriorating immune system and it had the ability to repel hot women from ever entering the run down building.

Of course, I refused to smile in here the boring atmosphere took a toll on me. Every week, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, I’d call this church home and this stuffy room with a window nailed shut, sanctuary.

On Tuesdays, the group sat in a circle, on the dirty floor, where a bible lay in front of us, opened to Proverbs 23.

Tom, the Teenage Group Leader and only person who could drink legally (if he wanted), deliberately placed it there as a reminder that we will all would die, sooner than most people our age, and how we’ll never be able to achieve our dreams.

Your turn:

What attitude does your character have about the situation? Keep that in mind when writing. Introduce us to the Group Leader, the place where the story will take place in, and if you can add symbolism that would be great. What annoys your character right off the bat? Is the depressing atmosphere or run down building? Give specifics that match with your protagonist’s attitude. There is a reason they feel the way they do and their condition isn’t the only reason for it. The things around them have impact on their attitude and overall personality.

**

Excerpt:

(1)So here’s how it went in God’s heart: The six or seven or ten of us walked/wheeled in, grazed at a decrepit selection of cookies and lemonade, sat down in the Circle of Trust, and listened to Patrick recount for the thousandth time his depressingly miserable life story—how he had cancer in his balls and they thought he was going to die but he didn’t die and now here he is, a full-grown adult in a church basement in the 137th nicest city in America, divorced, addicted to video games, mostly friendless, eking out a meager living by exploiting his cancertastic past, slowly working his way toward a master’s degree that will not improve his career prospects, waiting, as we all do, for the sword of Damocles to give him the relief that he escaped lo those many years ago when cancer took both of his nuts but spared what only the most generous soul would call his life.

AND YOU TOO MIGHT BE SO LUCKY!

Extreme Analysis:

  1. Wow! What a sentence! Okay, where do we begin? The author did this very well. The reader wouldn’t even realize it’s one long sentence because it flows perfectly. Unless, of course, they stop to check and say “Oh that’s one sentence” then they would notice. OR WILL THEY? First things first, in this sentence the author is giving us information about the Leader of the group. The way he writes it isn’t aiming towards Patrick only, but towards the entire Support Group.

 

It’s almost like he’s saying: This is what happens to many people with this condition; they give up on hope. He demonstrates this by sharing Patrick’s depressing life and how the group can relate to his story (as we all do). At the end, there is a bit of humor by adding a reference to “pop culture” (the sword of Damocles to give him the relief) and finally by pointing directly to the reader (AND YOU TOO MIGHT BE SO LUCKY!).

Our Attempt:

Our meetings went something like this: all the people who were considered “too sick to live properly” came in limping, moaning, groaning or just plain dragging themselves on the ground. It was sad, really. No one wanted to be here. We could live our lives properly. Anyways, we’d wash our hands in the kitchen sink. That was supposed to cleanse our sins. When we finally made it to the faithful room that I mentioned earlier, and listened to Tom complain about the troubles of this world and how everything and everyone is going to one day be destroyed and how happy he was that he wouldn’t have to experience it, considering he had a horrible disease of his own called Polio — or something like that— and how his condition was really a blessing in disguise; death became his goal (sick, I know), but apparently this was why he never got married or had kids… it wasn’t because he couldn’t get a date— yeah right— but because he reminded girls of Bart from the Simpsons television show: ‘stupid, desperate and sad’ were what women said to his face.

BOY OH BOY, WOULDN’T YOU ENJOY A HAPPY LIFE LIKE TOM?

Your turn:

Describe, in detail, how someone’s life can be impacted by a disease. In John Green’s excerpt he uses Patrick and in our attempt we use Tom. Create your own “group leader” and have he/she discuss, complain, or brag about their life with their disease. Give a history of that character. Also, in the final moments of your super long sentence, add a reference to pop culture and speak directly to the reader. Don’t forget that.

**

Excerpt:

(1)Then we introduced ourselves: Name. Age. Diagnosis. And how we’re doing today. (2)I’m Hazel, I’d say when they’d get to me. (3)Sixteen. Thyroid originally but with an impressive and long-settled satellite colony in my lungs. And I’m doing okay.

(4)Once we got around the circle, Patrick always asked if anyone wanted to share. And then began the circle jerk of support: everyone talking about fighting and battling and winning and shrinking and scanning. (6)To be fair to Patrick, he let us talk about dying, too. (7)But most of them weren’t dying. (8)Most would live into adulthood, as Patrick had.

Extreme Analysis:

  1. The author explains what the people are doing. To be specific, an overview/summary of what they’re doing. This means, he didn’t draw out the paragraph, having each person actually say their name, age and diagnosis. This could be because no one in the group is actually important (to the story or plot) besides Patrick and the main character.

 

  1. The character finally says her name and speaks. Again, notice how it isn’t in quotes, it’s summarized. Doing it this way saves time and skillfully rushes things along (to get to the point quicker). So remember, if you’re writing a story, and don’t want to bore the reader, all you need to do is summarize what happens quickly. Not too quick where the reader gets lost.

 

  1. The author summarizes what the main character said in the same manner he summarized what the people were doing. For example, “Then we introduced ourselves: Name (period) Age (period) Diagnosis (period) And how we’re doing today,” then he does I’m Hazel, I’d say when they’d get to me (period) Sixteen (period) Thyroid originally but with an impressive and long-settled satellite colony in my lungs (period) And I’m doing okay. Instead of all in one sentence, John Green uses fragments to break it up and speed the pace.

 

  1. We combined the next two sentences (4 and 5). It’s easier that way. Okay, so Patrick kindly asks the group if anyone wants to share and immediately all hell breaks loose. Pretty much everyone’s true colors are being shown and it may have a little to do with their frustration of both 1. The knowledge that they’re going to die and 2. Being at this session in the first place.

 

  1. See above.

 

  1. So far Patrick seems like a nice, lenient guy. It’s almost as if Patrick necessarily doesn’t want to be there himself or as if he is trying something different in order to ease people which will allow them to break down their barriers.

 

  1. This sentence is a completion of the previous sentence. Even though the people talk about death most of them weren’t going to die. It just shows how much something can affect our personalities, our beliefs and our futures. Talking about death probably helped those people live day by day. Accepting the possibility of it happening, in a sense, made them feel safe and comfortable.

 

  1. Notice how Hazel says MOST. This word has much impact. Meaning, at the end of this book some of those people are either going to be dead or on death’s row. And notice how she did not specifically include herself. It a foreshadowing of what will occur in this book. Almost like a clear hint to the reader.

Our Attempt:

 

When ten o’clock came around we go around the circle and say a few words: Hi, my name is blah. I am here for so-and-so reasons and I am in the (blank) grade. Of course some people skipped this activity.

However, I didn’t see any harm in it, so I went along. Hi, my name is Emily. I am here because I have a life-threatening disease and my mom thinks I can’t handle, and I am in the eleventh grade.

When we finished the task, Tom never hesitated to pick random people and force them to make an addition comment. And after weeks of him doing so, the hostility grew worse: everyone nagging about how lame his attempt was to “break their barriers” and where they wished they were at that exact moment and, of course, going off subject just for the heck of it. Quite frankly, I felt bad for the poor guy; he was only trying to help… I think. Besides, no one had anywhere better to go; our sickness followed us no matter what. Only about 50 percent of us had a cure to our disease, including the money to pay for it.

Your turn:

In this excerpt give hints to the reader. Nothing too obvious, but enough to make them reread the last sentence. John Green, if you look closely, gave the reader three hints. Which is good. At the end of the book they would probably say “Great ending… But why didn’t I see all that coming?” Next, practice your summarizing. Don’t add dialogue hear. Learn to make summarizing interesting by adding humor and confessions from characters.

**

Excerpt:

(1) (Which meant there was quite a lot of competitiveness about it, with everybody wanting to beat not only cancer itself, but also the other people in the room. (2) Like, I realize that this is irrational, but when they tell you that you have, say, a 20 percent chance of living five years, the math kicks in and you figure that’s one in five . . . so you look around and think, as any healthy person would: I gotta outlast four of these bastards.)

Extreme Analysis:

  1. The characters who we don’t know their names, their past or much of anything else, have added another layer to their personalities, making them seem human simply by show that they’re competitive. These people want to not only beat cancer, but the people who are in the same boat as them. This shows realness. This shows human characteristics. Another thing, the fact that the main character can clearly see this, shows she’s intuitive and aware/alert of her surroundings.

 

  1. Lol! This sentence adds humor, statistics and drama all in one. The reader also gets a feel of the protagonist’s voice. It seems as if she’s talking in real life. A reader can imagine Hazel actually saying that.

Our Attempt:

(With all this growing anger, no one can would directly attack the man, but let’s just say he’d probably need a body guard soon if he kept it up, in addition to everybody wanting an upper hand in the fight, too.) Okay, so I realized what I just said, but hear me out. When the only exciting thing in your life is waking up and realizing you’re not dead and being able to pop all the pills the doctors prescribed to you by religiously gulping down a glass of orange juice to block out the yucky taste, overtime the frustration gets to you and human nature takes over. . . so you begin to consider, as any logical person would: we all shut this fool up once and for all. No one needs a constant reminder of their flaws, whatever it may be.)

Your turn:

Go on, push yourself and your writing. In this excerpt add humor, a clear voice from the protagonist and, if you want, statistics. Remind the reader that this people with cancer, or whatever else they may have, are still passionate to fight for their life and are willing to go as far as making it into a competition to prove their point.

 

Our Full Attempt Combined:

 

**
 



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