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The Short Story

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  • 1. THE SHORT STORY ENGLISH ADVANCED LEVEL SEMINAR
  • 2. WHAT IS A SHORT STORY?
    • a brief fictional prose narrative
    • usually presents a single significant episode
    • creates a single, dynamic effect
    • involves a limited number of characters and situations
  • 3.
    • characters disclosed in action and dramatic encounter but seldom fully developed.
    • may concentrate on the creation of mood rather than the telling of a story.
    • encourages economy of setting and concise narration.
    • usually has between 2,000 and 10,000 words.
  • 4. The Elements of the Story
    • Setting and atmosphere
    • Plot
    • Characterization*
    • Point of view*
    • Stylistic devices*
    • Diction and tone*
    • Theme
  • 5. SETTING AND ATMOSPHERE
    • Setting- time and location in which the story takes place 
      • Place
      • Time
      • Weather conditions
      • Social conditions
  • 6. Questions to ask about setting
    • What is the historic time, place, social background of the story?
    • Does the setting influence the plot or characters?
    • Would it make any difference if the story or certain scenes were set elsewhere?
    • Is there any use of symbolism in the setting?
    • What are the most striking scenes?
    • How is the setting presented ?
    • How much time does the action cover? How does the author treat gaps in time?
  • 7. Atmosphere
    • Atmosphere is the feeling or mood created by a writer; for example, fear in a ghost story, tension in a mystery story.
    • pervading tone of a place or situation
    • Question to ask: what kind of atmosphere does the writer create and how does he do it?
    • http://bcs.bedfordstmartins.com/virtualit/fiction/elements.asp?e=3_ex
  • 8. PLOT
    • Plot- a series of connected happenings and their result
    • Dramatic conflict- the source of the problems which may or may not be overcome
        • External
        • Internal
    • Man vs. Man
    • Man vs. Nature
    • Man vs. Society
    • Man vs. Himself/Herself
    • http://www.dowlingcentral.com/MrsD/quizzes/literature/conflict.htm
  • 9. Stages of a Plot
    • Introduction of characters (exposition)
    • The situation: Initial conflict (complication),
    • Rising action – heightened anticipation for the reader
    • Climax
    • Falling action and Conclusion (resolution/denouement).
  • 10. Questions to ask about plot
    • Give a brief synopsis of the story.
    • Is the plot logical and believable?
    • Is there a well-defined beginning, middle, and end?
    • Is there one central episode, or is the plot more episodic with no one outstanding event? If there is more than one action, is there a main plot with sub-plots?
  • 11.
    • Is there a climax or turning point?
    • Is curiosity aroused? Does the author make use of dilemmas, irony, foreshadowing, flashbacks?
    • Is the conclusion satisfactory? Why?
    • Is the title a good one? Does it help to define the plot?
  • 12. Questions to ask about conflict
    • What is the conflict the main character faces?
    • What steps does he/she/they take to settle that conflict?
    • Do the steps cause other conflicts?
    • Would you have solved the conflict in the same way?
  • 13. POINT OF VIEW
    • Who tells the story and how s/he tells it are critical issues that determine the interpretation of the story.
    • The teller of a story is the narrator (not to be confused with the author).
    • The narrator could be either objective (detached) or subjective (biased).
  • 14. POINT OF VIEW
    • Omniscient Point of View
      • third person, assumes complete knowledge of the characters’ actions and thoughts
      • moves at will from one place to another, one time to another, one character to another
      • speaks his or her own views directly to the reader
    • Third Person Limited Omniscient Point of View
      • third person, reveals thoughts of a few or only one character. It may be a main or secondary character.
  • 15.
    • First Person Point of View :
      • author disappears into one of the characters
      • character may be either a main or minor/peripheral character
      • “central consciousness”
      • narration is restricted to what one character says he or she observes.
    • Objective Point of View :
      • author disappears into a kind of roving sound camera
      • cannot comment, interpret, or enter a character's mind.
      • dramatic point of view
  • 16.
      • Does the point of view affect your response to the story, to the characters and the theme?
      • Is the narrator reliable? Why or why not?
      • Would the story change if it were told from a different point of view? How?
      • http://www.suite101.com/lesson.cfm/17744/1091/2
    • http ://bcs.bedfordstmartins.com/virtualit/fiction/elements.asp?e=4_ex
    Questions to ask about point of view
  • 17. DICTION AND TONE
    • Diction-word choice and order
    • Types of diction
    • -low or informal (slang, dialect, jargon)
    • example: threads
    • -middle (common, familiar, colloquial)
    • example: clothes
    • -elevated or formal (sophisticated, pretentious)
    • example: apparel
    • -denotation/connotation
    • -concrete/abstract
    • -complicated/simple
  • 18.
    • Tone- the attitude a writer takes towards a subject, character or event or character, the emotional aspect of the story.
    • List of words to describe tone:
    • http://home.earthlink.net/~too.teacher/id56.html
  • 19.
    • Questions to ask about diction:
      • What highly connotative words does the writer choose?
      • Is the essay's diction elevated, vulgar, simple, obscure?
      • How does the writer's diction contribute to the theme and tone of the essay?
  • 20.
    • Questions to ask about tone:
      • How does the author’s use of words, imagery, or details such as gestures or allusions reveal the author’s attitude toward a character or event in the story?
      • What words best describe the author’s attitude toward this subject, character, or event?
  • 21. OTHER STYLISTIC DEVICES
    • Stream of consciousness
    • Figurative language
    • Symbolism and allegory
    • Dialogue/narration/description
    • Length and structure of sentences
  • 22. Other questions to ask
    • Is symbolism important?
    • Are there any flash backs, or is the story's time element chronological?
    • Was exaggeration used in the story and why?
    • Was the ending foreshadowed and consistent?
    • How does the author use dialogue?
    • Is humor used? How is it used?
  • 23. CHARACTERIZATION
    • Characterization -method used by a writer to develop a character. The method includes:
    • showing the character's appearance.
    • displaying the character's actions.
    • revealing the character's thoughts.
    • letting the character speak.
    • getting the reactions of others.
    • giving the narrator’s own opinion (overt or implied).
  • 24. Getting to know the characters
    • Be alert to characters in the same way you are when you meet someone.
    • Observe their actions.
    • Listen closely to what they say and how they say it.
    • Notice how they relate to other characters and how other characters respond to them.
    • Look for clues as to their purpose and significance in the story.
  • 25. Analyzing characters
    • Characters -major or minor, and static (unchanging) or dynamic (changing).
    • Protagonist—the leading character
    • Antagonist—the force acting against the main character
    • Flat character—a one-dimensional representation, a stereotype
    • Round character—a multi-dimensional representation
    • Dynamic character—one that changes or grows from beginning to end
    • Static character—one that never changes or grows from beginning to end
  • 26.
    • The characters can also be:
    • symbolic
    • satirical
    • stock
    • realistic
    • exaggerated
  • 27. List of Character Traits
    • http://www.mcps.k12.md.us/schools/beverlyfarmses/tools/character_traits.htm
    • http://www.teachervision.fen.com/writing/literary-techniques/2669.html
  • 28. Questions to ask about characters
    • Can you sum up the appearance and important characteristics of each major character?
    • Which characters change during the story? Are the changes consistent and sufficiently motivated?
    • Are there marked similarities or contrasts among characters?
    • Which characters are distinct individuals (round characters)? Are there any types (flat characters)?
  • 29.
    • Does every character have a function? Are any minor characters foils, or are they interesting in themselves?
    • How are the main characters presented? Description by author? Through their own thoughts and acting? Through comments of others?
    • http://bcs.bedfordstmartins.com/virtualit/fiction/elements.asp?e=2_ex
  • 30. Theme
    • the controlling idea or central insight, the author's main idea that he is trying to convey. 
    • often related to life, death, love, friendship, family, and courage.
    • must be extracted from the characters, action, and setting that make up the story
  • 31. WEB SITES
    • http://www.newi.ac.uk/englishresources/workunits/ks3/genre/shortstory.html
    • http://www.coe.uga.edu/epltt/SStoryAnaSheet.pdf
    • http://www.qcc.mass.edu/booth/102/storyqu.html