What is it? A short story is a brief, fictional narrative with five major elements. Setting Theme Character Plot Conflict
Why is it a viable form? Though it is the newest “form” or genre of literature, the short story is probably the most difficult to write, and by far, the most fun to analyze. Why? They are short. Setting details are flawlessly integrated into the text. Sometimes setting and time period are unnecessary, while at other points, they are extremely integral. Because space is limited, characterization is sparse and usually developed through character dialogue and interactions.
Continued: Conflicts are developed quickly and ended quickly. Short stories are often ambiguous and end without “tidiness” Many stories follow a traditional “plot map” or “Freytag Pyramid”.
What to be aware of: Implied themes Point of view Development of conflict Symbolism Mood and tone Irony of all types Imagery Dialogue Motivation Allegory
How to approach the short story: Short stories are an art form. Think of them as mini-novels in terms of complexity. Though they are short, sometimes just as much “stuff” is in there. It just needs to be found, sought out, or sifted through. Ambiguous endings often help this and lead to controversy in interpretation. Short stories, especially new short stories, are set up as “snapshots” of life, giving the reader an inside look, but little commentary is offered.