short story is a narrative of interrelated events, involving
a conflict and a resolution. The following are essential
features of the short story.
CHARACTERISTICS OF A SHORT STORY
A short story should create a single impression.
It should be highly economical with every word, all characters,
dialogue and description designed to develop single predesigned
Most short stories revolve around a single incident, character
or period of time,
Should be capable of being read at one sitting.
Opening sentence should initiate the predetermined or predesigned
Once climax reached, the story should end with minimal
Character should only be developed to the extent required
by the story.
ORGANISING PATTERNS OF SHORT STORY WRITING
Take a PLOT and fit characters to it.
Take a CHARACTER and choose incidents to develop it.
Take an ATMOSPHERE and get actions and characters to develop
Take an IDEA and use characters and action to develop
NARRATIVE STRUCTURE OR THREE PART STRUCTURE OF A SHORT STORY
Narrative Structure :
complication (rising action, crises, conflict);
resolution (climax, falling action, denouement).
(An alternative narrative structure is sometimes cited in some
texts as follows:
o Presents who, when, where what and
o Introduces complication or problem
which triggers the action
o Focuses readersÍ attention, engages
them with story / character / conflict / mood.
‡ Middle or rising action
o Presents a series of crisis points
consisting of actions and reactions.
o Resolves the complication with the
POTENTIAL AIMS OF SHORT STORY
This is an essential element in every short story. The conflict
tells of some type of struggle:
(person or character) against man;
Man against his environment / nature;
against himself. (This may be physical or psychological, but
whatever it is, the conflict propels the story on to its final
Conflict may be internal or external. The tension created by
this conflict gives rise to drama and action in the story.
Is the conflict evenly balanced? By identifying commonly experienced
conflicts in a novel, we can identify THEME; ie how character/
s attempt to deal with and resolve major conflict in their
lives is what the author wants us to consider.
Point of View
Every story is told or narrated from at least one position
or point of view. Some stories are told using several different
points of view. ( For example, a novel written in the third
person may contain letters from character/s, providing us
with a separate first person perspective.)
every story the reader can discern one (generally) of four
basic points of view:
The omniscient narrator knows everything about the characters,
even their most inmost thoughts, but choosing to reveal
only information that is relevant to the story. This is
the most common point of view.
A limited omniscient narrator is an all knowing about one character
through whose eyes and thoughts the story is filtered.
In a first person narration*, (*A first person narrator can
only report what he/she sees, hears or is told by others..
He/she only has insight into the thoughts or motives of
the characters if they have been told or overhear.)
first person major : a character either tells his
own story or one in which he is one of the participants;
first person minor : here the character is a minor
one, observing and reporting the life of the story's
are further subdivisions in all of these, as well as other
povÍs (such as the second person) however, these will be taught
as and where necessary. In the case of Yr 12, 2004, another
relevant first person pov is the subjective narrator. A subjective
narrator is one who provides a very emotionally loaded and
personal point of view. It is a view that the reader is encouraged
to question the validity of.)
setting involves the place and time of the incidents in the
story. The location, the social environment, and period of
history form an essential, element in the short story. Within
this setting characters may move, initiating some action within
the text. In addition the setting will construct some feeling
in the reader in relation to place, character, time and action.
: place specific (classroom); place general (Ireland)
time specific (midnight); time general or era (nineteenth
; the characters who may be introduced;
: some action may be established providing direction for
th text to move in;
: this is the mood or feeling created in the reader in relation
to some aspect of setting.
LANDSCAPE : Often the setting of a story acts as an emotional
landscape. What this means is that the setting may mirror
(or may directly contrast, to highlight) the main character's
emotional state. As such the setting embodies feelings we
the reader may attach to the character.
the setting can play an active part in the short story.
can time, place, character and action;
can mirror, establish or influence a character's emotions,
ideas or actions;
it can create a sense of mood and feeling (atmosphere).
This atmosphere often plays a significant role in developing
character, action and theme.
Character development in short story is generally limited
to the major character. Such a character can be said to be
complex or rounded, as distint from simple or a flat character.
Most characters in short stories don't need to be developed.Other
names for types of characters are stock characters or stereotyped
characters ; they are like cardboard cut-outs.
may be revealed through CHADSBOAT:
CH = character
A = author; thee author may comment directly about this
character; ("he was a mean and nasty piece of work..")
D = dialogue or what the character ssays;
S = says; what the character thinks of the world and other
people is revealed in his or her dialogue;
B = background;the character's context can tell us something
about them, such as class attitudes;
O = others; what other characters say or think about them;
A = appearance; what some ch's look like tells us what they are
like as people;
T= thinks; what ared his or her thoughts, feelings, doubts,
Plot and Narrative
The plot involves the ordering of the happenings; that is,
selection and arrangements of incidents of the story into
a recognizable sequence.
graphs have us believing that most stories are simple, linear,
chronological sets of events. Indeed some stories are, however,
there are many ways in which stories develop. How a story
is developed and the order in which it proceeds, is its NARRATIVE
: action proceeds in order of time, sequenced according to
occurrence. **Note expansion and contraction of time as a
narrative device. Some moments, indeed whole short stories,
can be very limited amounts of time expanded. Stories often
contain an expansion and contraction of events.
: where a story moves to and fro in time, possibly starting
in the present and flashing back to one or more events in
the past. A
media res ; this is Latin for ñin the middle of the actionî.
A story may commence in the middle of an event (plane crash),
go back to before plane takes off, then lead up to crash and
whatever the resolution is.
: essentially THREE things. Remember also TIME expansion and
ESSENTIAL PROSE FICTION TERMINOLOGY and CONCEPTS Æ define where
Character / characterisation /
how character is developed;
Stereotyped / stock character
/ flat character;
Rounded / developed character
Point of view;
Plot structure (flashback, chronological,
in media res);
Atmosphere or mood
Suspense / tension;
Conflict; (internal, external)
Satire; satirises; satirical writing;
Tone of writer;
Irony / dramatic irony;
Climax (turning point);
Gaps and silences;
Gender representation / how gender
AuthorÍs attitude towards character;
AuthorÍs attitude towards subject;
How setting supports theme;
How reader positioned to identify
with / be alienated from main character;
Ways in which writer promotes
identification with central character;
What is authorÍs attitude to main
How does use of setting, choice of language, selection
of detail position reader to represent certain minority
groups or characters;
Discuss methods used by writer to shape specific reader
responses and present a particular way of viewing the
struggle of one adolescent against a hostile world;
How are our attitudes to a particular
theme / issue challenged or endorsed by awriter;
How are our values challenged or endorsed, encouraging
us to respond to a particular issue;
How reader positioned to agree
with / support / endorse writerÍs ideas / theme.
How language used to position
How writer challenges our values
How writer endorses values and
Significance of title;
Power / distribution of power;