Elements of a Short Story
Short Story: A short story is a brief and imaginative narrative containing few
characters, a simple plot, conflict and suspense leading to a climax
and a swift (quick) conclusion.
Title: Important for three reasons:
1. It names the story.
2. It attracts and invites the reader to the story.
3. It often reflects or gives a clue to the theme.
Setting: The TIME and PLACE a story occurs (where and when).
Protagonist: The main character of the story. He or she is the centre of
attention and the focus of the conflict.
Antagonist: The main opponent to the protagonist.
Character Traits: Adjectives (describing words) that describe how a character usually
acts or reacts.
Mood/Tone: A story has an atmosphere which creates a mood in the
reader. An easy way to figure out the mood of a short story
is to simply look at how the story made you, the reader, feel.
EX: anger, sadness, terror, confusion, etc.
Conflict: the protagonist’s main problem. There are six main types:
Character vs. Character Character vs. Nature
Character vs. Supernatural Character vs. Self
Character vs. Society Character vs. Technology
Theme: The author's message to the reader, or a moral about how one should live
life. The lesson the reader can learn from the story.
Foreshadowing: Hinting at future events in order to create suspense.
Flashback: A jump back into the past to provide an explanation of something the
reader needs to know to better understand the story.
Suspense: a feeling of anxiety or uncertainty aroused in the reader about the
outcome of events.
Allusion: a reference to a well-known person, place, event, or to another literary
work or passage.
Irony: The use of an idea, word, or phrase to elicit the opposite of its usual meaning.
There are two main types:
1. Dramatic Irony: Occurs when the audience knows something that
the character does not
2. Situational Irony: Occurs when circumstances turn out differently
from what the reader expects or anticipates
Point of View: 3 Types:
- the story is told through firsthand experience
- ex: “I walked to the store.”
- ex: “When Daniel walked towards me, I felt scared.”
-useful for: expressing the protagonist’s innermost feelings
- The story is told as though you (the reader) are the protagonist
-ex: “You walked to the store.”
-ex: “When Daniel walked towards you, you felt scared.”
-useful for: making the reader feel engaged by/drawn into the story
- the story is told by an “onlooker” who may or may not be in the story
- “he, she, they, him, her”
- ex: “He walked to the store.”
- ex: “When Daniel walked towards her, she felt scared.”
-useful for: telling the story from the perspective of more than one character
Third Person Omniscient
-narrator knows the feelings & thoughts of all characters, “godlike”
Third Person Limited
-narrator only knows what other characters tell him/her
Tips for finding POV
-look for the pronoun clue (“I”, “you,” “she”)
-DO NOT look in speech to determine POV