Elements of a Short Story ( (How would you describe the main conflict?,…
Elements of a Short Story
Is the narrator trustworthy?
Is there an “all-knowing” third person who can reveal what all the characters are thinking and doing at all times and in all places?
Is the story written in a detached third person “he/she” point of view?
Is the story written in the first person “I” point of view?
Does the author speak through the main character?
Who is the narrator or speaker in the story?
By point of view we mean from whose eyes the story is being told. Short stories tend to be told through one character’s point of view. The following are important questions to consider:
The narrator is the person telling the story. Consider this question: Are the narrator and the main character the same?
Narrator and Point of View
Are the closing sentences significant? How does the end relate or connect to the opening?
RESOLUTION: The resolution is the end of the story. It focuses on how the conflict is ultimately resolved.
When does the climax take place?
CLIMAX: The climax is the point of greatest tension or intensity in the short story. It can also be the point where events take a major turn as the story races towards its conclusion.
Is it an external conflict caused by the surroundings or environment the main character finds himself/herself in?
Is it an internal conflict within the character?
How would you describe the main conflict?
CONFLICT: Conflict or tension is usually the heart of the short story and is related to the main character. In a short story there is usually one main struggle.
Is the plot believable?
How is the plot structured? Is it linear, chronological or does it move around?
What is the most important event?
The plot is the main sequence of events that make up the story. In short stories the plot is usually centered around one experience or significant moment. Consider the following questions:
Plot and Structure
Do the characters symbolize something?
Are the characters believable?
What type of characters are they? What qualities stand out? Are they stereotypes?
Are they dynamic characters who change?
Are they static characters who do not change?
Has the author described the characters by physical appearance, thoughts and feelings, and interaction (the way they act towards others)?
Are the main character and other characters described through dialogue – by the way they speak (dialect or slang for instance)?
Who or what is the antagonist?
Who is the main character?
Characterization deals with how the characters in the story are described. In short stories there are usually fewer characters compared to a novel. They usually focus on one central character or protagonist. Ask yourself the following:
How does the time period affect the language, atmosphere or social circumstances of the short story?
Does it take place in the present, the past, or the future?
When was the story written?
Study the time period, which is also part of the setting, and ask yourself the following:
Does the setting change? If so, how?
What role does setting play in the story? Is it an important part of the plot or theme? Or is it just a backdrop against which the action takes place?
How is the setting created? Consider geography, weather, time of day, social conditions, etc.
Setting is a description of where and when the story takes place. In a short story there are fewer settings compared to a novel. The time is more limited. Ask yourself the following questions: