Lessons On Elements Of A Short Story

A short story should use only three main characters: a protagonist (good guy), antagonist (bad guy) and a dynamic third character.

A short story is a fiction piece of written work usually with than under 10,000 words. In a short story the elements of drama unfold in a similar fashion as the longer model, with the benefit of accelerating generalizations and inferences. The three elements are: character, setting and plot. Each element has a mission, method and model to guide you through the three structured elements, short story style.

Characters

Mission: Create dynamic characters. Method: Describe characters physically; characterize thoughts, feelings, words, actions and reactions of the characters. Model: Character development.

In a short story, characters must be developed quickly. Dialogue and dialect must be relevant to the theme (or plot). In creating the three main characters of a short story, follow a narrow subject and stick to it. A short story serves as a vehicle for a crucial part of a character’s life, her point of view. “There is not one scientist, mathematician, musician, artist, etc., that isn’t the main character in his or her own short story,” according to the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute.

Setting

Mission: Impact character development and plot. Method: Figurative language, effective use of adjectives. Model: Create vivid, exact sense images and impressions.

Using all the five senses, describe when the story occurs. Is it in the past or the present? In a short story, use all the five senses to create imagery, empathy and conflict. Where does the story take place? Setting addresses the crucial element of time and place in a short story.

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Plot

Mission: Build suspense and solve a problem. Method: By recognizing the conflicts of characters in short stories and the characters’ struggles to resolve them, a reader can quickly and easily identify with her own problems and will continue reading to see what the solutions are. Model: Systematic chain of events.

The plot is the emerging theme of a short story. As the short story unfolds, take it through the five phases quickly. All fiction stories consist of exposition, rising action, climax, denouement and resolution.

Considerations

A theme should Include details: personification, metaphors, similes and vivid sense images. Conflicts can be individuals versus society, individual versus nature or individual versus himself. Use transitional words leading to a chronologically ordered turning point in the story. Present a consistent point of view: first person, third person observer or third person omniscient. Express the main idea as a proverb or general belief. Inject yourself into a short story for originality. Short stories in which the writer places himself in the time and place of a historical figure or a famous scientist will lead to an original plot.