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Elements of the Short Story

Designed to teach middle school students about plot, setting, theme, and genre as it relates to short stories. Special focus on O. Henry.

Jennifer Robertson

on 29 August 2011

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Transcript of Elements of the Short Story

the action that makes up the story, following a plan called the plot line. What is plot? Plot Line:
the planned action or series of events in a story. Types of Stories Lots of Action Exposition Rising Action Falling Action Conflict High Point/Climax Resolution/Conclusion The action is slowing down.
The characters have taken steps to resolve the conflict, and you know which way the story is heading. The downhill towards the end! The final part of the plot when the action has been resolved. all loose ends all neatly tied up, right? After the exposition, where most of the action takes place. chk, chk, chk, chk...here we go... The first part of the plot; introduces the reader to what the story is about. everybody ready? Everybody all caught up? The point in the story when the conflict reaches a boiling point. It's the most exciting part of a story. At the top of the hill, when your stomach jumps into your throat... The problem that needs to be solved. Plots revolve around a conflict. Any excitement in literature is caused by some kind of conflict. drama, drama, drama... Short Stories have to set up the conflict quickly, so that the reader is fascinated right away! The plot is the sequence of events. Every action taken by characters is part of the plot. Complications Conflicts What is done What is said What is thought What is felt Types of Conflict Internal External A struggle between a character and an outside force is an external conflict.
Characters may face several types of outside forces. The outside force may be another character.
It may be the character and the community.
The outside force may also be forces of nature. For example, a story might be the main character struggling against the arctic cold in human v. nature. A struggle that takes place in a character's mind is called internal conflict.
For example, a character may have to decide between right and wrong or between two solutions to a problem.
Sometimes, a character must deal with his or her own mixed feelings or emotions. human v. him/herself As you read a story:
identify the main characters
decide what conflict they face
look for steps they take to settle that conflict
see if the steps cause other conflict
watch for clues and try to predict what the characters will do
enjoy the buildup of suspense
put yourself in the story
decide if you would have solved the conflict in the same way Reading to find the Conflict human v. society human v. machine human v. human human v. nature human v. the supernatural Any story about a competition is an example of a human v. human conflict... Any story involving a human against God, a ghost, a monster, or something outside the natural world follows a human v. supernatural conflict. When a person is struggling against a downward economy, when he has lost his job, the story centers on a human v. society conflict. If the main character is battling robots or technology, then she's involved in human v. machine. Plot and Sequence All of the information in a story needs to be organized in sequence
- the plot needs to be organized. Chronological Order Chronological order presents ideas according to the time in which they occurred. This type of organization is especially effective if you are describing a process, relaying a series of actions, or telling a story. For instance, to convey the plot of a novel or the procedures of an experiment, you would tell readers what happened first, second, etc. But, chronological order can be changed through use of different plot devices. flashback flash forward reverse chronology Also called ANALEPSIS
When the story jumps backward in time to tell the reader crucial events that affect the current plot line or to develop a character in more detail Also called prolepsis
When the story jumps forward in time to show events that may come to pass in the story or what a character imagines will happen in the future. Telling the story in the reverse order of when events typically occur If Jack and the Beanstalk were told in reverse chronology, the story would start with Jack chopping down the beanstalk and killing the giant. Fable Fairy Tale Fantasy Folklore Historical Fiction Horror Humor Legend Mystery Myth Realistic Fiction Science Fiction Tall Tale a story that demonstrates a useful truth; often features animals that speak Stories about fairies or other magical creatures; often differ from culture to culture. Fiction with strange or other worldly settings or characters; invites suspension of reality The songs, stories, myths, and proverbs of a people or "folk" as handed down by word of mouth Story with fictional characters and events in a historical setting Fiction in which events evoke a feeling of dread in both the characters and the reader Stories meant to make the reader laugh or to amuse the reader; can be light or dark humor Story, sometimes of a national or folk hero, which has a basis in fact but also includes imaginative material. Fiction dealing with the solution of a crime or the unraveling of secrets Legend or traditional narrative
often based in part on historical events
reveals human behavior and natural occurences through symbolism often relating to gods Story that could actually happen and seems "true to life" Story based on impact of actual, imagined, or potential science, usually set in the future or on other planets Humorous story with lots of exaggerations and swaggering heroes who do the impossible without much effort. Short stories:
All the pieces and parts O. Henry
(pen name of
William Sydney Porter) b. 1862 in Greensboro, NC
d. 1910 in New York, NY Had his first job at the age of 19 as a licensed pharmacist
Was also a ranch hand, banker, draftsman and journalist
Lived in Texas, Honduras, and New York City
Convicted of embezzelment in 1898 and served five years in prison in Columbus, OH Known for creating the "O. Henry ending," which usually surprises the reader and relies heavily on irony.
The O.Henry Award is given every year for outstanding American short stories. Setting Where and when the story takes place
The location
The immediate surroundings
The time of day
The time in history Setting can also be the emotional state surrounding the characters. This is also called the MOOD. Can you think of a story that has this setting? a mood or atmosphere is the feeling that a literary work conveys to readers. Mood is created through the use of plot, character, the author’s descriptions, etc. "Mood" is the emotions that you feel while you are reading. Desolate Excited romantic fearful anxious Thrilling haunting scary heartbreaking electric powerful confused optimistic cynical cryptic nostalgic funny teasing Identify Setting and Mood for each trailer. Theme Theme is the BIG IDEA in the story
A message
A lesson
A philosophy The theme is UNDER THE SURFACE and to find it, you have to read deeper. Think about:
What is the author trying to tell me about the world?
What is the big idea that I should take away from reading this?
What have I learned about society, people, or history from this story? To find the theme, identify:
the needs and/or desires of the major characters
the central conflict
where the author uses symbolism and why
where the characters say and do things they might not want to
important titles or headings Common themes in Literature The Great Journey Loss of Innocence The Noble Sacrifice The Great Battle Fall from Grace Love and Friendship Changing Nature of Fate Revenge The Big Trick The Big Mystery
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