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The Elements of a Short Story Notes

The Elements of a Short Story Key Literary Terms Plot Mountain

Melissa Michlowski

on 7 September 2011

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Transcript of The Elements of a Short Story Notes

Point of View
The time and location in which a story takes place is called the setting. For some stories the setting is very important, while for others it is not. There are several aspects of a story's setting to consider when examining how setting contributes to a story (some, or all, may be present in a story):
Where is the action of the story taking place?
weather can set tone or foreshadow events
social conditions can include economic factors, dialect, stereotyping
mood or atmosphere created at the beginning of the story
It is helpful to consider climax as a three-fold phenomenon: 1) the main character receives new information 2) accepts this information (realizes it but does not necessarily agree with it) 3) acts on this information (makes a choice that will determine whether or not he/she gains his objective).
There are two types of conflict:
1) External - A struggle with a force outside one's self.

There are three kinds of external conflict:
Man vs. Man (physical) - The leading character struggles with another character

Man vs. Nature - The leading character struggles against forces of nature or fate

Man vs. Society (social) - The leading character struggles against ideas, practices, or
customs of other people.

2) Internal - A struggle within one's self; a person must make some decision, overcome pain, quiet their temper, resist an urge, etc.

Man vs. Himself/Herself (psychological) - The leading character struggles with
himself/herself; with his/her own soul, ideas of right or wrong, physical limitations,
choices, etc.
Conflict is essential to plot. Without conflict there is no plot. It is the opposition of forces which ties one incident to another and makes the plot move. Conflict is not merely limited to open arguments, rather it is any form of opposition that faces the main character. Within a short story there may be only one central struggle, or there may be one dominant struggle with many minor ones.
The beginning of the story where the characters and the setting is revealed.
This is where the events in the story become complicated and the conflict in the story is revealed
The events and complications begin to resolve themselves.
the angle from which the story is told.
First Person - The story is told by the protagonist or one of the characters who interacts closely with the protagonist or other characters (using pronouns I, me, we, etc). The reader sees the story through this person's eyes as he/she experiences it and only knows what he/she knows or feels.

Third Person Omniscient- The narrator stands outside the story and has a god-like knowledge. This narrator knows ALL of the thoughts and feelings of ALL of the characters.

Third Person Limited - The author tells the story in third person (using pronouns they, she, he, it, etc). We know only what the character knows and what the author allows him/her to tell us. We can see the thoughts and feelings of characters if the author chooses to reveal them to us.
This is the final outcome or untangling of events in the story.
controlling idea or its central insight
The title of the short story usually points to what the writer is saying and he may use various figures of speech to emphasize his theme, such as: symbol, allusion, simile, metaphor, hyperbole, or irony.
the author's thoughts about a topic or view of human nature
examples of common themes
things are not always as they appear to be
Love is blind
Believe in yourself
People are afraid of change
Don't judge a book by its cover
One character is clearly central to the story with all major events having some importance to this character - he/she is the PROTAGONIST. The opposer of the main character is called the ANTAGONIST.
Four Methods of Characterization

a) his/her physical appearance
b) what he/she says, thinks, feels and dreams
c) what he/she does or does not do
d) what others say about him/her and how others react to him/her
Flat Characters
have one or two characteristics that never change and are emphasized
Round Characters
have many sided and complex personalities. These characters will change by the end of the story.
Orignal design: Kerry Palumbo
Edited by: Melissa Michlowski

Dynamic Characters undergo conflict and as a result of that conflict experience a change in behavior.
Static Characters usually minor characters that do not experience any change through the course of the story.
Inciting incident is
the moment when the conflict is introduced into the story.
Literary Devices
Direct Characterization- the author DIRECTLY tells the reader what a character is like

Indirect Characterization- the reader must INFER what the character is like through the descriptions the author provides
suggestion of something that will happen in the future
a scene set in time before the action of the story
a person, place, or thing respresents something else
the difference between appearance and reality, or expectation and result
Three Types of Irony

verbal irony- words are used to suggest that opposite of what is meant

dramatic irony- the contradiction between what a character thinks and what the reader knows to be true

situational irony- an event occurs that directly contradicts the expectations of the characters or reader
The Short Story
Key Terms
How the author arranges events to develop his basic idea; The plot is a planned, logical series of events having a beginning, middle, and end. The short story usually has one plot so it can be read in one sitting. There are five essential parts of plot:
Rising Action
Falling Action
place - geographical location.
When is the story taking place? (historical period, time of day, year, etc)
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