The short story is a work of fiction that is
shorter and more limited than a novel.
› Usually focuses on one important event in
the lives of a small number of central
› Short stories vary in length but usually short
enough to be able to be read in one sitting
Character- who the story is about
Conflict- when central problem causes
Setting- where the action takes place
Point of View- who is telling the story
Theme- what the story is really about
Character- the most important element
of the short story, the people the story is
Characters should come alive. You
should have a real life connection with
The protagonist is the “good guy”
› Protagonist- main character of the story
The antagonist is the “bad guy”
Characterization- the process by which authors
communicate their characters to readers
Direct Characterization- occurs when the
author tells readers about a character directly
Indirect characterization- lets readers draw
their own conclusions from clues in the
story, such as a character’s appearance, tone
of voice, or behavior:
› Mr. Smith laughed meanly and kicked a stray dog
out of the way as he walked down the street.
Conflict provides the tension and drama
that stories are built upon
Setting- environment in which a story
takes place (time and place of the story)
› Short stories usually have only one major
A story’s setting can have both physical
and psychological effects on the action
and character of the story
By using realistic details, the author
makes the story more believable.
Details help readers imagine that events
are happening in a specific place.
By describing the setting in images that
appeal to the senses, the author creates
a vivid atmosphere that readers can
associate with settings in their own
Point of View- the perspective from
which the story is told
A story’s point of view is called
omniscient when the author is outside
the story and presents the thoughts of all
the characters involved.
Other points of view are called limited
when the story is told from the viewpoint
of one character who can see only a
part of the whole story.
“That rotten wolf tried to eat us!”
“I was framed! I just wanted to borrow a
cup of sugar!”
Theme is the
author intends to
A story’s themes
The theme is often
specifics in the
and evil is a
society is a
in short stories
individual and the
The structure represents how the story is
told. It is the framework for the story.
Most structures include:
› Rising Action
› Falling Action
Is the sequence of events in a
story, each event causing or leading to
An introduction to people, places, and
situations that are important to the plot
of a story, novel, or play.
The point at which the author catches
Adds complications to the problems and
increases our interest in the story
The point of our highest interest and
greatest emotional involvement in the
Relates the events that are the results of
Ends the falling action of a story by
telling or implying the final outcome
Suspense involves techniques that
authors use to keep readers wondering
what will happen next
The climax of a short story is that
dramatic moment when the tension
reaches its peak and the conflict comes
to a head.
Since the construction of the short story is
limited, the short story usually only has
one major climax.
The resolution follows the climax. It shows
how the conflict winds down and the
Sometimes the resolution is not clearly
defined, leaving readers to decide for
themselves how to interpret the ending.
Style is defined by the characteristic
ways in which an author uses language.
Almost like authors’ fingerprints, style
identifies their individual writing as their
Writers’ styles are made up of such
elements as the quality of their
vocabulary, the length and complexity
of their sentences, and the imagery and
symbols they use.
Foreshadowing is a technique used to
give readers clues about events that will
happen later in the story.
› “A dark cloud gathering in the sky” could be
introduced to suggest that the light mood in
the story is about to change.
Dialogue refers to the actual words that
characters speak. The central conflict of
the story can be powerfully dramatized
in the story’s dialogue.
The way individuals speak can also be
an important clue about their
Authors use description of
characters, settings, and action to make
the story more vivid for the reader
The best writers are skilled observers.
They are able to select just the right
details to capture the essence of people
and places in their stories.
Imagery is the use of selected details to
describe one thing in terms of another.
This comparison helps evoke additional
meanings and feelings
› She swam as gracefully as a swan.
› He ate like a pig.
A symbol is an image or object that also
stands for something larger than itself
› A flag is a symbol for the country it
In many short stories, authors also use
symbols to represent general ideas such
as “good” or “evil”
Tone expresses the writer’s attitude
toward such story elements as
characters, setting, or a situation.
Tone can range from playful or
humorous to serious or tragic.
An author’s tone is communicated by
clues in the style of the story, such as
word choice or imagery.
Irony is a particularly effective kind of tone
in which the person speaking intends a
meaning that is opposite to the words he or
she actually says
› Opposite of what is expected
Authors often use an ironic tone to surprise
the reader and emphasize a point
› Mr. Pennypincher considered himself to be a
generous man; there wasn’t anyone he
wouldn’t offer his smile to.
Dramatic Irony is another technique that
increases suspense by letting the reader
know more about the present situation
than the character knows.
› The reader might know that there is a bomb
in a character’s briefcase when the
character himself does not!
Exposition- introduces the
characters, setting, and background
Complication- introduces complications
and obstacles that increase the tension of
the story conflict
Climax- the moment in the story when
tension rises to its highest point and the
conflict comes to a head
Resolution- describes how the conflict is
finally resolved and the story comes to a
Point of view