By name alone, they are a ‘brief tale’ Although short, it does not mean that such stories do not hold impact
A short story is a closely-knit, concise narrative meant to be read in a single sitting Much like a one-act play, these tales centre on a short snapshot of the character’s life Every short story follows a similar narrative trajectory
Every short story is comprised of a similar structure that contains 6 essential elements Often written in narrative prose, but can be communicated in other ways (poem, video) Depicts few characters and concentrates on creating a single mood One of the oldest forms of narrative
Character s SettingConflict Point of View Plot (outline) Theme
Without characters there is no story! Often the chief aim of an author is to reveal something about human nature, thus their characters are essential in this process The process by which the writer reveals the personality of the character is called characterization
There are two essential characters: ◦ Protagonist – Main character ◦ Antagonist – The adversary of the main character
Direct Characterization Author tells the reader what the personality of the reader is Does not apply to adaptations like plays and film Example: “The patient boy and quiet girl were both well mannered and did not disobey their mother.” Indirect Characterization Author describes things that reveal the personality of the character This can be achieve through 5 different methods: 1) Summary of Features 2) Mannerisms 3) Dialogue 4) Actions 5) Setting
Methods of Characterization “Jack had been in basic training in Florida and Dottie was there on vacation with her parents. They’d met on the beach and struck up a conversation. Dottie was the talker, the outgoing one – the extrovert. Jack was too shy around girls to say much at all.” “Furlough – 1944” by Harry Mazer Direct Characterization: The author develops the personality of a character by direct statements.
Setting is the backdrop of the story itself It is comprised of three main features Mood/ Atmosphere Place Time
3 Features of Setting: ◦ Time: Present day, ancient times, or the future ◦ Place: Neighborhood, city, country, universe ◦ Mood: The feelings and emotions that permeate the story – i.e., gloom, decay, hope, mystery
All about description… "The walls were made of dark stone, dimly lit by torches. Empty benches rose on either side of him, but ahead, in the highest benches of all, were many shadowy figures. They had been talking in low voices, but as the heavy door swung closed behind Harry an ominous silence fell."
All about description… The heavenly aroma of garlic, basil, and oregano mixed with the unmistakable yeasty scent of fresh bread and wafted on the cool air that blew in her face when she opened the door. Anne’s salivary glands kicked into overdrive and her stomach growled. She really needed to stop skipping lunch.”
No story can exist without conflict, otherwise it would be incredibly boring to read Conflict can be classified as either internal or external
Externa l Man vs Man Man vs Nature Internal Man vs Self
The perspective through which the story is being told Always ask, whose feelings and thoughts are being conveyed? For now, know that there are two main POVs: ◦ 1 st Person ◦ 3 rd Person
Told from the viewpoint of one of the characters, using the first person pronoun “I”. “The thousands of injuries of Fortunato I had borne as I best could, but when he ventured upon insult I vowed revenge. You, who so well know the nature of my soul, will not suppose, however, that I give utterance to a threat.” “The Cask of Amontillado” by Edgar Allan Poe
The main character in the story is referred to using the second person pronoun “you”. “Rubbing your aching head, you take in the scene around you. Nearby you see a narrow dirt road, and beyond it a fast- running brook. The road disappears into dense woods on either side of the field. You hear the sound of hooves, and a strange clanking noise. Someone is coming! You duck behind a tree as two men on horseback ride toward you. They are wearing shining metal armor. One of them carries a white banner with a golden lion on it. They must be knights! You watch as they rein in their horses and dismount just a few yards away.” Choose Your Own Adventure : The Forbidden Castle by Edward Packard
The story is told using a narrator who is located outside of the action of the story and uses third person pronouns such as “he”, “she”, “his”, “her”, “they” etc. Third Person Point of View can be broken up into three different types: Omniscient Limited Omniscient Objective
The narrator has the power to show the reader what is happening though a number of characters’ eyes. “Myop carried a short knobby stick. She struck out at random at chickens she liked, and worked out the beat of a song on the fence around the pigpen. She felt light and good in the warm sun. She was ten, and nothing existed for her but her son, the stick she clutched in her dark brown hand, and the tat-de-ta-ta-ta of accompaniment.” “The Flowers” by Alice Walker
Third person, told from the viewpoint of a character in the story. “They all laughed, and while they were laughing, the quiet boy moved his bare foot on the sidewalk and merely touched, brushed against a number of red ants that were scurrying about on the sidewalk. Secretly his eyes shining, while his parents chatted with the old man, he saw the ants hesitate, quiver, and lie still on the cement. He sensed they were cold now.” “Fever Dream” by Ray Bradbury
Third person, told as if from a camera that follows the characters. Only what is said and done is recorded. “Jennifer stirred in bed. The cotton sheet clung to her body as she rolled to face the nightstand. With eyes half open, she reached over to switch the alarm clock off when the man in the shadows reached out and grabbed her arm. Her scream pierced the quiet night and died abruptly as she was forced violently back into the dark oblivion.” “Objective Point of View” writesville.com
All elements of a short story are important, but plot is the most important if we are to have a story at all! Plot is the foundation upon which all the other elements of the story rest Plot framework for short stories follows a similar outline
This similar pattern can be represented by the plot outline: Exposition Inciting Incident Rising Action Climax Falling Action Denouement
Easily the hardest component to dissect in a short story, but by far the most important Theme: Life lesson, meaning, moral, or message about life or human nature that is communicated by a literary work In other words… ◦ Theme is what the story teaches readers ◦ What the writer wishes to convey about the subject
Little Red Riding Hood ◦ Don’t talk to strangers Spiderman (The Movie) ◦ With great power comes great responsibility Three Little Pigs ◦ Hard work will pay off in the end Star Wars ◦ Nature is superior to technology
How to identify the theme: 1. Create a quick plot outline 2. Identify the subject of the story (i.e., gangs) 3. Identify the insight or truth that was learned about the subject How did the protagonist change? What did they learn? 4. Generalize this into one sentence, describing the message the author has regarding the subject 5. THAT sentence is your theme
Types of Irony Verbal Irony: This is the contrast between what is said and what is meant. In other words: sarcasm. Dramatic Irony: This is the contrast between what the character thinks to be true and what we (the reader) know to be true. Sometimes as we read we are placed in the position of knowing more than what one character knows. Because we know something the character does not, we read to discover how the character will react when he or she learns the truth of the situation. Situational Irony: This is the most common in literature. It is the contrast between what happens and what was expected (or what would seem appropriate). Because it emerges from the events and circumstances of a story it is often more subtle and effective than verbal or dramatic irony.
Flashback This is a writers’ technique in which the author interrupts the plot of the story to recreate an incident of an earlier time (goes back in time; like giving the reader a memory). This device is often used to provide additional information to the reader.
Foreshadowing This is a writers’ technique in which the author provides clues or hints as to what is going to happen later in the story. It’s like the music in a scary movie when we know that something bad is about to happen.