Elements of the
The Short Story
• Short stories have been with us since the
beginning of history: we have short stories
in the Old Testament of the Bible; mythology
(Ancient Greek and Roman); parables; epic
and fable (from the Middle Ages)
• Not one person created the short story, nor
did one nation develop the short story. A
group of 19th century writers in America
developed it as a literary form. Edgar Allan
Poe and Nathaniel Hawthorne. After this
the short story developed and became
popular in America.
• A literary form which narrates a series of
events or a single incident involving
individuals in mental or physical activity.
• The short story is different from the novel; it
focuses on a single aspect of many
elements of the novel. A short story may
range from 500 to 20,000 words in length.
ELEMENTS OF A SHORT
• Setting: The time, place, and
background of the action (background
refers to the cultural, religious, and
moral attitudes of the time and place).
• Mood: The emotional atmosphere
which hangs over the story – when the
mood is able to penetrate the reader,
he is better able to enjoy the story.
• Characterization: The way an author
reveals his characters – there are three
methods of characterization:
• 1. what the author tells us
• 2. What the character himself tells us
through his own actions
• 3. What other characters tell us about a
• NOTE THESE TWO TYPES OF
CHARACTERS: Protagonist and
• Protagonist: the central character
with whom we are supposed to
• Antagonist: a person or force that
opposes the protagonist.
• Plot: a series of events which
introduce, develop, and finally resolve
problem(s) and which convey a
• Two techniques sometimes used in
developing plot are flashback and
• A flashback is a scene that interrupts
the present action (chronological
order) of a story to tell something that
happened in the past.
• Foreshadowing is the use of clues
that hint at coming plot developments.
• Problems in a story. Conflict provides the
interest and suspense in a story.
• Four main kinds of Conflict
• 1. Man against Nature
• 2. Man against Man
• 3. Man against Society
• 4. Man against Himself
• The plot is made up of a series of conflicts
seldom do we find a single conflict in a plot.
Often we find two or even all of the kinds of
conflict in a single story.
• The part of a play that provides the
background information needed to
understand the characters and the
The sections in narrations during which
the tension between opposing
characters or forces builds toward a
• The technical climax is the decisive
point in a series of happenings; the
point of most intense excitement in a
narrative; specifically, when the
hero’s/heroine’s fate is in the balance.
• The action in a narrative which
represents the working out of the
decisive action of the climax.
– The final resolution or clarification of
a dramatic or narrative plot.
– The events following the climax of a
drama or novel in which such a
resolution or clarification takes
• The outcome of a sequence of events;
the end result.
• The central idea of a story – it is the
message behind the story
DIAGRAM OF A SHORT
Diagram of a Short Story
RISING ACTION FALLING ACTION
Point of View
• The perspective or view from which
the author presents the story – it is the
author’s identity to the story. If the
author, or narrator, is an onlooker who
refers to all the characters as he, she,
or it (third person), the point of view is
omniscient. The author and the
reader are both observers of the
• If the author, or narrator, is a character
within the story or another character
telling the story, the point of view is the
first-person narrator. The author is
giving the reader a look from inside of
Advantages and Disadvantages
of Point of View
• There are advantages and
disadvantages to both views. The
first-person narrator has the obvious
advantage of intimacy. By
experiencing the story through the
eyes of a character, we can see not
only the actions but also his/her
• However, if we can only see the action of
the story through the eyes of one
character, we will probably miss parts of
the total story. Using the third-person, the
omniscient point of view, permits us to
observe the whole story – places where
the character-narrator can’t see.
Sometimes to tell the story the author
needs the all-knowing, all-seeing eye of
the omniscient point of view. Other times
being able to see from within a character
better suits the author’s purpose.
• The attitude an author takes toward his
subject or reader – in some cases, the
tone is straightforward and serious
while other times it may be humorous
or satirical. It is important to recognize
the tone because a misunderstanding
of tone can distort the entire meaning
of a work.
• A difference, or discrepancy, between
what appears to be and what really is –
between appearance and reality.
• One kind of irony is verbal irony, in which
a writer or speaker says one thing but
means something entirely different.
Verbal irony is common in everyday
conversation. When someone describes a
ten-course meal as a “light snack”, he is
• A second kind of irony is dramatic
irony, in which the discrepancy is
between what a character says, or
thinks, and what the reader knows is
true. In dramatic irony a character is
not aware of something the reader is
Irony of Situation
• A third kind of irony is Irony of Situation in
which a situation turns out to be different
from what we had expected.
• Irony is an important element because it
shows us that life itself is unpredictable.
Our words and our actions don’t always
have the meanings or results we expect
them to have.
• THE TELLER OF THE STORY;
USUALLY EITHER A CHARACTER
OR AN ANONYMOUS VOICE USED
BY THE AUTHOR.
• The setting for a given event in a
narrative or the shortest major division
in a play.
• The direct presentation of conversation
between two or more characters
A fictional personality created by
A figure of speech involving
comparisons made explicit by
the use of the words like or
• The quality achieved by an artistic
work when all its elements are so
interrelated as to form a complete
A character or incident, or idea that recurs
frequently in variouds eorks in variouds
parts of the same work.
Characteristics of the Short
• Although the short story is a very old
form, some true ones being found in
the Bible, it was not really
distinguished as a special literary type
until Edgar Allan Poe laid down the
principles for it. Since then writers of
short stories have deliberately worked
along the lines pointed out by Poe, and
all work is judged now by these
A True example of the short
story shows the following
• There is no character introduced that is not
absolutely necessary for the most artistic
• The action is given in the shortest possible
time without sacrificing the highest effect.
• There is little or no change of scenery.
• There is but one impression , or strong
emotion, produced in the course of the story.
• Dialogue: the direct presentation of
conversation between two or more
• Metaphor: a figure of speech involving an
• Unity: the quality achieved by an artistic
work when all its elements are so
interrelated as to form a complete whole.
• Motif: a character, incident, or idea that
recurs frequently in various parts of the
• Simile: a figure of speech involving a
comparison made explicit by the use of
the work like or as.
• Symbol: A symbol is something that
has its own meaning while, at the
same time, also stands for something
else. Symbols have double meanings
• Denoument Conflict
• Climax Action
• Falling Action