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Elements of a Short Story
Transcript of Elements of a Short Story
Principles of Short Story writing
A short story should create a single impression.
It must be capable of being read at one sitting.
Every word should contribute to the planned effect.
The effect should be created in the opening sentence and developed throughout the work.
The story should end at the climax.
Only such characters as are essential to the effect should appear.
The short story needs to entertain the reader.
What is a short story?
Setting: When and where does the story take place?
Usually a single time and place setting.
May use flashback as a technique.
Mood: What feeling or atmosphere is created at the beginning of the story?
Established through the detailed descriptions of setting and characters.
Establish at the beginning of the story and usually sustained for the whole text.
Characterisation: What information does the writer give about the character to make them real?
Author may reveal characteristics of a character through: his her physcial appearance, what he/ she says/ does/ thinks, what others say about him/her and how they react to him/ her, what action he/ she does.
Don't have a lot of room to develop characters over a long period of time; need to be to the point and 'show' the reader rather than 'tell'.
Dialogue: What conversations do the characters have?
Well-written dialogue can convey feelings and thoughts of a character in a direct way.
avoid large section of dialogue which can slow down the story; include words that contribute to the reader's understanding of a character.
Plot: What are the series of related events?
the orientation of the story usually provides information for the reader about setting and character and establishes the mood, although the plot can also begin in the action part of the story.
a series of complication and resolutions (or problems and solutions) that builds up a tension in the story and interest for the reader.
Conflict: What struggle does the main character face?
The main character usually faces a type of conflict which could be - Person vs person, person vs nature, person vs society, person vs him/herself.
The conflict is usually established early in the story so that the rest of the story works towards the resolution.
Exposition/ Introduction: What are the events that occur which make the character do something?
Something has to happen that requires the main character to respond and act.
This is what sets the story up and makes it interesting.
Each problem/ solution advances the plot and increases tension and suspense.
the reader wants to keep reading to find out what happens and how issues are resolved.
Climax: What is the high point of the story? what have all the complications been leading up to?
The story comes to its high point.
Avoid writing a story that has a predictable ending because this will fall flat for the reader.
The sequence of events that occurs after the climax.
Do not provide any real developments in the plot or provide too much explanation of events or this will result in an 'anti-climax'.
Resolution: How is the conflict resolved?
Each event or conflict is usually resolved before moving onto the next.
The final resolution of the story comes just after the climax or high point of the story.
Not everything in the story needs to be resolved and all loose ends tied up; some thing can be left unresolved and all the reader to imagine what happens finally.
Some Important Additions
Narrative Viewpoint - Who is telling the story?
Author's Style - What language choices are made to achieve purposes?
Theme - What is the general idea expressed by the author?
Because of the shorter length, a short story
usually focuses on one plot, one main character (with a few additional characters) and one central theme.
1) Exposition/ Introduction: This part introduces the characters and their personalities.
2) Rising Action: This part helps to recognise and reveal the conflicts of the characters to another character or to himself. this also shows the progression of the story.
3) Climax: This part shows the suspense of the story. The turning point or most intense part of the story.
4)Falling Action: This part demonstrates how the character had done accordingly in the rising action. (If we have a rising action we have falling action) Actions/events that occur after the climax.
5) Resolution: This part answers whether the conflict has been solved.
6) Ending: This part demonstrates how the story ends (of course) if there has been a happily ever after or not.