LA9 Components of the Short Story
Characteristics of a short story:
can read through at one time without interruption
one main plot
few characters; action happens in a short amount of time
a dramatic moment in the lives of the characters
fiction (not a true story)
Theme: the author’s central moral or message. It can be said directly (the
moral of the story is . . .) or implied (you have to figure it out).
Point of View (P.O.V.): who is telling the story. Most are told in:
first person P.O.V.
o the narrator is a character in the story
o uses pronouns such as “I”, “me”, and “we”
third person limited P.O.V.
o the narrator is not a character in the story
o only knows what a character says or can be seen doing
o narrator never uses the pronouns “I”, “me”, or “we”
unless in the dialogue
third person omniscient P.O.V.
the narrator is like god
knows everything a character thinks, feels, or does.
Conflict: A struggle between opposing people or forces. There are two basic
types of conflict, internal and external, into which all types fit:
Person vs. Person (ex = a woman running from a mass murderer)
Person vs. Society (ex = a man fighting to ban books in U.S.)
Person vs. Nature (a person trapped by an avalanche)
Person vs. Idea (a person struggling with the idea of religion)
Person vs. Self (a person contemplating a tough decision)
Plot: events that occur in a story
Exposition: introduction of time, place, and characters
Conflict: a struggle between opposing people or forces
Rising action: problems that keep the conflict from getting solved,
create excitement or interest in the story
Climax: turning point in the story; point at which the conflict comes to
Falling action: action leading to the solution
Resolution: shows how the situation turns out; ties up loose ends—
“…and they lived happily ever after.”
Setting: explaining the time and place of the action. Time can be the
historical period—past, present, or future—but also a specific year, season, or
time of day. Place may be a place—a region, country, state, or town—but also
the social, economic or cultural environment.
Characters: The people in a story. Major characters are either the
protagonist, the main character (but not necessarily a good person), or the
antagonist, who is the person/thing in conflict with the protagonist.
Characterization: The author uses different methods to inform the reader
about the character:
Provides a description of what the characters look like
Describes character’s words or actions
Show characters interacting with others
Shares character’s thoughts and feelings
Symbol: is a person, place, or object that has a literal meaning and also stands
or represents something larger such as an idea or emotion.
For example, some common symbols:
a heart is a shape, but also represents love
white is a color, but also symbolizes purity
a dove is a bird, but also stands for peace
the American flag symbolizes this country but also freedom
Irony: Differences between appearance and reality, expectation and result, or
meaning and intention.
In verbal irony, words are used to suggest the opposite of what is meant.
“Aren’t your smart?” (meaning no)
dramatic irony there is a contradiction between what a character thinks
and what the reader or audience knows to be true (We know who the killer
is, but the character doesn’t.)
irony of situation an event occurs that directly contradicts the
expectations of the characters, the reader, or the audience. (A fire station
Flashback: An interruption in the story showing events happening before the
start of the story. Used by authors to bring in information from the past.
Foreshadowing: hints or clues about events happening later in the story to
build suspense, encouraging the reader to continue.