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Introduction to Short Stories

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1 Introduction to Short Stories

2 What is a Short Story? A short story is a brief work of fiction.
Like a novel, a short story presents a sequence of events or plot. A short story is concise and creates a single effect, or dominant impression, on its reader. The events in a short story usually communicate a message about life or human nature.

3 What is a Novel? A novel is a long work of fiction.
Novels contain all the elements of short stories, including characters, plot, theme, point of view, and setting. Novels are much longer than short stories. Because of this, the novelist can develop these elements more fully than a writer of short stories can. In addition to its main plot, a novel may contain one or more sub plots, or independent, related stories. A novel may also have several themes (lessons).

4 How are they different?

5 How are they the same? They BOTH contain: Plot Character Setting Theme
Point of View

6 What is Plot? Plot is the sequence of events in a literary work.
It is what “hooks” the reader in.

7 Plot The plot is the sequence of events in a story. In many short stories, the events follow the pattern shown in the diagram below.

8 Plot: Exposition The story starts with the exposition, which introduces the characters and the basic situation.

9 Plot: Conflict Next the writer presents the central conflict, a struggle that drives the action of the story.

10 Plot: Conflict Conflict is essential to plot. Without conflict there is no plot. It is the opposition of forces which ties one incident to another and makes the plot move. Conflict is not merely limited to open arguments, rather it is any form of opposition that faces the main character. Within a short story there may be only one central struggle, or there may be one dominant struggle with many minor ones.

11 Two Types of Conflict: There are two types of conflict:
1)  External - A struggle with a force outside one's self. 2)  Internal - A struggle within one's self; a person must make some decision, overcome pain, quiet their temper, resist an urge, etc. Can you think of examples of both of these types of conflict?

12 Four Kinds of Conflict:
There are four kinds of conflict: 1)  Man vs. Man (physical) - The leading character struggles with his physical strength against other men, forces of nature, or animals. 2)  Man vs. Circumstances (classical) - The leading character struggles against fate, or the circumstances of life facing him/her. 3)  Man vs. Society (social) - The leading character struggles against ideas, practices, or customs of other people. 4)  Man vs. Himself/Herself (psychological) -  The leading character struggles with himself/herself; with his/her own soul, ideas of right or wrong, physical limitations, choices, etc.

13 Plot The conflict increases during the rising action and comes to a peak at the climax.

14 Plot: Rising Action and Climax
Rising Action - This is where the events in the story become complicated and the conflict in the story is revealed (events between the introduction and climax). Climax - This is the highest point of interest and the turning point of the story.  The reader wonders what will happen next; will the conflict be resolved or not?

15 Plot The story ends with the falling action and the resolution, in which we learn the outcome of the conflict. The reader knows what has happened next and if the conflict was resolved or not.

16 What is character? A character is a person or animal who takes part in the action of a literary work.

17 Character The main character is the most important character in a story. A minor character is one who takes part in the action, but who is not the focus of the action.

18 Characterization In order for a story to seem real to the reader its characters must seem real. Characterization is the information the author gives the reader about the characters themselves. The author may reveal a character in several ways: a)  his/her physical appearance b)  what he/she says, thinks, feels and dreams c)  what he/she does or does not do d)  what others say about him/her and how others react to him/her

19 What is Setting? The time and location in which a story takes place is called the setting.  For some stories the setting is very important, while for others it is not. 

20 Some elements of setting include:
place - geographical location.  Where is the action of the story taking place? time - When is the story taking place? (historical period, time of day, year, etc.) weather conditions - Is it rainy, sunny, stormy, etc.? social conditions - What is the daily life of the character's like? Does the story contain local color (writing that focuses on the speech, dress, mannerisms, customs, etc. of a particular place)? mood or atmosphere - What feeling is created at the beginning of the story?  Is it bright and cheerful or dark and frightening?

21 What is Theme? The theme in a piece of fiction is its central message or its main idea.  It is the author's underlying meaning or main idea that he is trying to convey.  The theme may be the author's thoughts about a topic or view of human nature.  Some simple examples of common themes from literature, TV, and film are: - Things are not always as they appear to be. - Love is blind. - Believe in yourself. - People are afraid of change. - Accept people for who they are.

22 Theme A moral is a lesson taught by a story or literary work.
Can you think of a story with a moral? Not every story has a moral, but every story has a theme.

23 Point of View The perspective from which the story is told is the story’s point of view. First, second, third person perspective

24 Point of View First person narrative means writing from the "I" point of view.  As in:  I walked down the alley. Third person narrative form is writing from the omniscent point of view.  Here, you use the he-she form.  As in: He walked down the alley.

25 Point of View Second-person is the least-used form in novels, mainly because it usually reads more awkwardly.  Second person is the "you" point of view, the imperative (command) form. For example:  "If you're looking for an agent, consider reading the information in the agent's file.”

26 Works Cited Engram, J. (n.d.) Short Story Elements. Accessed February 21, 2006 from Prentice Hall Literature (2000).Timeless Voices, Timeless Themes: Bronze Level. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall.

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