Short Stories

Definition of short story:
  • Brief tale that can be read in one sitting—Edgar Allan Poe
  • It only has one main conflict, a few characters, and limited detail
  • Characters, events and places in a short story often reflect the real world
It is a type of fiction:
  • Fiction is writing based on the writer’s imagination and contains made up characters and events (vs. non-fiction which is factual)
  • Although made up, fiction has its roots in life
Elements of a short story:
  • Plot: Pattern of action in the story
  • Character: People who take part in the action
  • Point of view: the angle or perspective from which the story is told
    • First person:
      • A character within the story tells the story
      • First person is denoted by the use of “I / we”
    • Third person limited:
      • We see the events through the perspective of one character
      • Third person is denoted by the use of “he / she / they” (observer)
    • Third person omniscient:
      • Omni- all   sciens- knowing
      • The narrator has the ability to look into the hearts and minds of all characters at all times
      • God-like
      • Also denoted by “he / she / they”
  • Setting: Consists of where and when the action takes place (environment of the story)
  • Theme: The insight to life revealed by the story—can be thought of as the moral of the story
  • Conflict: struggle between opposing forces—usually the driving force behind the story
    • Internal: opposition is within the character
      • Person vs. Self
    • External: opposition between a character and forces outside her / his being
      • Person vs. Nature
      • Person vs. Society
      • Person vs. Person
      • Person vs. Technology
Characterization:  Techniques the author uses to develop characters
  • Direct: Direct comments from the narrator or from the character her / himself
  • Indirect: Speech, thoughts, and actions of the character, speech and actions of other characters, physical description; we have to infer (guess based on above traits)
Character Traits:
  • Static: character does not change over the course of the story
  • Dynamic: character changes over the course of the story
  • Flat:
    • Represent a single characteristic, trait or idea
    • Flat characters are not fully developed
    • 2-dimensional
    • Caricature
  • Round:
    • Complex, multidimensional and developed
    • Round characters represent a number of qualities and traits
    • 3-dimensional
  • Contradiction between appearances and reality
  • When we expect one thing and another occurs.
  • Types of Irony

    • Verbal Irony:
      • Occurs when what a character says is the exact opposite of what he / she means
      • Sarcasm is a type of verbal irony; however, sarcasm is harsh and direct
      • Some verbal irony is implied; not all verbal irony is sarcasm
    • Dramatic Irony:
      • The audience is aware of what is happening before the characters are
      • There is a contrast between the true situation and what the character says and does
    • Situational Irony:
      • The actual outcome is the exact opposite or very different from the expected outcome
      • In situational irony, the final outcome often seems “unfair”
    • Cosmic Irony (Irony of Fate):
      • When situational irony goes beyond just being unfair and becomes morally tragic
      • Cosmic irony often causes characters to question their deities and causes them to see the universe as hostile
      • Cosmic irony suggests that people are just pawns to malicious forces
Plot Development:
  • Exposition: Introduction of characters, setting, and situation
  • Rising Action: Longest section of the story—leads to the climax
  • Complication: Catalyst that begins the major conflict
  • Climax:  Highest emotional peak—occurs when opposing forces meet
  • Falling Action: The immediate result of the climax
  • Resolution: Brings the story to a satisfying and logical conclusion

Plot Chart