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INTRODUCTION INTRODUCTION to SHORT STORIES Unit sources: http://www.learner.org/exhibits/literature/read/plot1.html -- http://www.readwritethink.org/materials/lit-elements/overview/ What is a short story? A short story is fictional narrative prose. It is usually under 10,000 words, though can be more. A short story typically focuses on one event and has a limited number of characters. Short stories depend on literary elements such as theme, setting, character, and plot more so than novels do because of their length. Origins: Although stories exist in every culture, the modern short story began in the 19 th century with authors such as Emile Zola and Guy de Maupassant in France and Washington Irving and Edgar Allan Poe in the United States. With the increasing popularity of print magazines and journals, there was a demand for fiction between th 3 000 and 15 000 words. During the first half of the 20 century, short stories were published in each issue of magazines such as Scribner’s and The Saturday Evening Post. Although this trend is no longer popular, The New Yorker continues to feature short stories. In present day, short stories are found in anthologies and most recently in online magazines or on blogs. Short stories contain: A plot that provides the development of the story including the height, or climax, of the action. The plot is presented from a specific point of view. An event that starts the story moving. This is usually called the conflict, which can be a problem or a realization. A setting that is described or imagined. o Sensory details: words that appeal to the senses. o Figurative language: use of similes, metaphors, and personification. Characters who have unique traits and who change. There are four typical techniques used to develop characters: 1. Physical description 2. Speech and actions of the character 3. Direct comment from the narrator 4. Speech and actions of other characters There are also two types of main characters that are present in a short story: 1. Protagonist: the character who is central to the story/main character. 2. Antagonist: the character who offers opposition to the main character. A theme that is the central message or purpose for the short story.
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