Elements of the Short Story
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Elements of the Short Story
Mrs. Efpatridis – Grade 9 Academic English
What is a Short Story?
It’s a piece of prose fiction, usually under 10, 000 words, which can be read at one sitting.
In a short story every word counts, and is carefully selected by the author.
Artistically, a short story is intended to create an impression
A good story entertains, arouses questions about life, and makes the reader question his or her own values.
The effect a story has is created through these elements:
Plot Atmosphere Character and Characterization Conflict Theme Setting Style (which includes a number of devices)
The Plot Graph Plot is the story’s plan of action: the series of events that make up the story. A Plot Graph is an excellent way to map out the important plot details in a given
story. It allows the student to select the pertinent plot elements and trace how they
build to the end of the story. Climax
Identifies a basic problem or conflict
How the problem is resolved
Complicating incidents or obstacles
Highest point of excitement
Plot Points in Detail Introduction/Exposition Introduces setting, characters, and the conflict Serves to entice the reader to keep reading Inciting/Trigger Incident The KEY event that causes or initiates the action in the
story Rising Action The main part of a story, when the main character tries to
solve his or her problem. Suspense, conflicts, problems or obstacles all occur to
create a series of crises.A crisis refers to a problem which is produced by the conflicts, etc.
At this point the action can go in many different directions. Serves to entice the reader to keep reading
Plot Points in Detail-cont’d Climax The turning point of the story where conflicts are
resolved. The highest point of interest in the story when a
characters solves his/her struggles. It is the outcome of a decision that had to be made.
This major decision influences the rest of the story. Falling Action The part of a story that leads to the ending or
resolution. Conclusion/Resolution This element refers to the final details of the story.
Conflicts are over, and final statements are made. Not all stories have a formal conclusion.
This term refers to the feeling that is created in the story The author uses certain descriptive
words, images, details about setting, etc. to create feelings in the reader of fear, anger, happiness, shock, etc.
This term is often referred to as MOOD. It is the “emotional colouring” in story.
Characters Character refers to the individuals that are depicted
in each story. Without characters there can be no story!
Usually there is only one central figure around whom the events of the story revolve.
This character is called the PROTAGONIST: a regular character or a hero or heroine
An ANTAGONIST is a character who opposes the protagonist; often working in contrast to the protagonist such as a villain.
Characters are identified by a dominant trait, motivation, or characteristic such as loyalty, ambition, greed, arrogance
Characters are often classified as STATIC (those who are barely revealed and/or change very little throughout a story) or DYNAMIC (those who change or transform throughout a story and are described at great length)
Characterization refers to how characters are developed and depicted.
Authors use a variety of methods to reveal their characters and to communicate information about them:
1. The physical description of the character: what he/she looks like! (narrator’s input)
2. What a character says (dialogue) gives insight to his/her personality. Authors use dialogue skillfully in the short story to portray character, add suspense, and to dramatize conflict.
3. What a character does (actions) provides an impression for the reader4. What a character thinks (thoughts) offers a glimpse into what he/she
is like5.What others say about the character (inference) lets us gain
insight about the character
Types of Characterization
There are two ways character is established: Direct Characterization
This is where the author comes right out and tells the reader what a certain character is like.
Ex. In “Being Comfortable with being Weird”, the author/narrator calls a character a “superficial little wench.”
Indirect Characterization This is where the author gives certain information and lets
readers draw their own conclusions about the character.1. Character’s Name (or nickname) ex “Mouse”2. Character’s Appearance 3. What a Character says 4. What a Character thinks5. What other people think/say about the character6. What the character does. Actions speak louder than words.
Conflict Conflict is
The central source of tension in the story It usually involves a struggle between opposing
characters, emotions, etc. Conflict is sometimes referred to as the problem in the
story. Therefore, it must be solved or a goal must be achieved to resolve it.
The plot of the story usually revolves around conflict!
There are TWO main types of conflict present in most stories:
External Person vs Person Person vs Society Person vs The Environment (Nature) Person vs Fate Person vs Technology Person vs Animals Person vs The Supernatural
Internal Person vs Self
Theme Theme is the main message or idea the
author is trying to communicate in the story about life or human nature
It is generally an underlying idea or value about the very topic that the author wrote about
Themes are often universal truths that are suggested by the specifics of the story but it is not stated directly.
Theme is not directly stated Most simply it CAN BE the moral or
lesson BUT these are different concepts Some examples:
Tragic Love in Romeo and Juliet Fitting In in Being Comfortable with being
Setting Plays an important role in many stories. Often helps create the MOOD It is the environment in which the story
takes place. It refers to both the time (era) that a
story is set
and the place (location) where the action occurs
Style-created through the use of several devices
The ‘style’ of a short story refers to the author’s particular way of writing. It is the way in which the writer uses language and writing techniques to create his/her story.
Some things that make up a writer’s style include: Diction: choice of words Types of sentences
Simple, compound, fragments Use of stylistic devices and/or poetic language
(metaphor, simile, etc. and/or assonance, alliteration)
Tone: the language in a story that suggests the writer’s or narrator’s own attitude toward characters, objects, and topics in the story
Theme: the message itself indicates the author’s attitudes/beliefs
Rhetorical Devices Point of View
Many devices (see Literary Devices note) can be used to create a specific outcome or effect.
Author’s Style Style also includes the point of view Point of view refers to the perspective from
which a story is told There are THREE common points of view:
First-person point of view: the story is told by the protagonist, a minor character or an interested bystander using the pronouns I or we
Third-person OMNISCIENT point of view: all-seeing, all-knowing perspective. It reveals the thoughts and emotions of several characters using he, she, and they.
Third-person LIMITED point of view: uses the pronouns he, she and they, but tells the story from the perspective of one of the characters.
END OF PRESENTATION