2 Short stories have conflict – tensions and discord make things happen have narrative – things happen somewhere to someone, with consequencesare short – you can read them in one sittinghave plots and structure – organised by the writer, to achieve an effectentertain us, or sometimes make us think or feel something newhave characters – who interact or reflect on eventshave a setting – the place(s) where the action happenshave their own diction and style of writingare examples ofprose fictionhave a narrator – someone who tells the storyhave a theme – main idea
3 Short stories are short: “Economy of form” Short stories are like photographs, rather than movies: they usually focus on a particular scene, character, event or situation.With limited space, you need a clear focus, few characters, narrators and settings, and one central event or conflict.A short story is like “a little earthquake”: It must introduce and resolve a single event or point of conflict, in limited space.~ Joseph O’Conner ~
4 Short stories contain plot A plot is a narrative that is carefully organised and sequenced.Plots focus on why events happen and the connections between them (causality).Plot events do not have to happen in chronological order: they may move backwards and forwards in time.Some stories begin in media res – in the middle of the action.Some stories have a twist in the tail – an unexpectedor surprising ending.
5 Diagram of short story plot structure Typically, a short story plot follows this pattern:Climax: This is the moment of greatest tension when the most important event of the story occurs.Rising action: Tension increases as the initial incident or conflict gets worse.Denouement (orfalling action):The tension decreases as issues are resolved or explained.Complication: An initial incident or conflict is introduced and we wonder what will happen or how the situation will be resolved.Exposition: The scene is set and the characters are introduced.Resolution: The reader gains understanding of the central conflict and its outcome. Often the character(s) learns something new or finds new ways to carry on.
6 Short stories have a narrator and point of view Ask who is telling the story? This identifies the narrator or narrative voice. (The narrator may be a character in the story or someone outside the story whom we cannot identify or name.)Ask what is the narrator’s attitude towards events and characters? This is the point of view held by the narrator. The narrator and his/her point of view shapes the reader’s response.
7 First-person narrator: uses “I”; is a character in the story, usually directly involved in the action. This narrator’s point of view about events or other characters would be subjective or slanted.Third-person narrator: cannot be identified. Usually offers a more objective point of view. May be omniscient, i.e. can see into the hearts or minds of all characters, and knows everything about all conflicts and events.
8 Short stories contain characters Characters are central – without characters there is usually no story.Because of economy of form (brevity), there are usually few characters – sometimes only one.Short story characters must leap off the page – there is no time for gradual revelations.Main characters can be static (they don’t change) or developing (they change as they come into conflict with others or are caught up in events).
9 We get to know characters through: their interactions with one another and their situationstheir responses to eventsdialogue, actions, or exploration of inner thoughts and feelings.
10 Short stories use language and style Short stories may entertain, inform, shock, challenge, protest, surprise, express the self …Short stories use different diction or language. They may:tell it like it is in simple or realistic languageexperiment with language in fanciful or fantastical waysuse poetic language full of imagery and/or symbolism.The use of language and narrative point of view determine the style of the short story, which should reinforce or suit the content, i.e. the situations, settings and characters it contains.
11 Short stories are located in a setting Events unfold in a setting – in a particular space and time.Stories may be set anywhere – a real world that the reader can recognise or an imaginary world, such as a planet in outer space.Settings may include reference to a busy social environment – that is, the social world, culture, and attitudes of a broader community.Setting shapes events or the destinies of characters.
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