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Elements of Short Story

Breaking down each of the features of a short story.

Lourdes San Juan

on 4 July 2013

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Transcript of Elements of Short Story

Short Story Elements
The events that make up a story
Every narrative follows a specific structure, short stories are no exception. Each each section describes a specific point in the action of the narrative.
Plot Structure
3 Narrative Conflicts
Person vs. Person
– external struggle between two or more individuals.
Person vs. him/herself
– internal struggle concerning emotion and decision.
Person vs. nature
– external struggle between person and an element of nature or the environment.
Person vs. society-
external struggle between person and a group of people of the whole society.
Exposition or Orientation
Designed to arouse reader's interest; background is provided
Rising Action
Complication or development of the conflict.
Falling Action (denouement)
Events that lead to resoultion
Outcome of the conflict
The most tense, exciting or important part of the story.
The high point of the narrative tension
Analysing Narrative Structure.
Watch the following short film and chart its plot structure using Fraytag's Pyramid.
Give a detailed description about what happens at each stage.
This diagram is called Freytag's Pyramid
Multiple plots
More complex stories can have multiple narratives within the one story. These plots take place alongside the main narrative but may not occur at the same time. These are called subplots. They ususally take up less time to be resolved than the main narrative. Some stories may have up to 3 plots occurring in one narrative and may take place in different locations or realities.
What are the two plots in this short film? Why did the director choose this narrative structure?
Characters are what fill your story. They are a focal element in a story
The perspective from which the story is told.
This relies heavily on your use of grammar.
Narrative Point of View
The following techniques help develop characterisation indirectly
Create Characters of S.T.E.A.L
Create in the readers mind what the character looks like
He was a very tall, thin man, with a long nose like a beak, which jutted out between two keen, grey eyes, set closely together and sparkling brightly from behind a pair of gold-rimmed glasses. He was clad in a professional but rather slovenly fashion, for his frock coat was dingy and his trousers frayed. Though young, his long back was already bowed, and he walked with a forward thrust of his head and a general air of peering benevolence.
-The Hound of the Baskervilles (A. Conan Doyle)
Define: Jut, frayed, keen, slovenly, dingy and benevolence.

What synonyms for the above words could be used instead? List them in your workbook.

What impression does this description create in the readers mind?

Using the description as a guide, sketch what you think this character looks like.
Is this accurate?
Actions of Character
Characters can be defined by what they do. This reveals their motivations and personalities.
Direct Characterisation
Tells the audience the personality of the character
“The patient boy and quiet girl were both well mannered and did not disobey their mother.”
What does this say about the characters?
Indirect Characterisation
Indirect Characterisation shows things that reveal the personality of a character. There are five different methods of indirect characterisation:
What is revealed through
the characters private thoughts and feelings?
In the woods waits the only person with whom I can be myself. Gale. I can feel the muscles in my face relaxing, my pace quickening as I climb the hills to our place, a rock ledge overlooking a valley. A thicket of berry bushes protects it from unwanted eyes. The sight of him waiting there brings on a smile. Gale says I never smile except in the woods.
--S. Collins, The Hunger Games. p7.
What pieces of information do you learn about this character?
How do you think she feels about the character of Gale? What grammatical features gives you this idea?
How is this character's feelings revealed through her actions? Give examples.
What tense is this extract written in? How is this tense useful when developing a character?
How can thoughts be described through writing? Is it integrated in the narrative or separate? Why?

How can the inner thoughts of a character be different from a characters actions?
What does the character say? How does the character speak?
What a character says and how they talk can reveal lots of information the character.

What can be revealed? Make a list of all the possible character traits that can be revealed though speech.

Pick two traits and describe how this can be achieved in your writing.
Why did he do that? She could have won the lollypop, she knew she could have. But none of them cared, not a bit. Now she wouldn't tell them anything more about the people she'd seen in the house next door, about the big black car and the men in their suits and black hats.
There were lots of things she wasn't going to tell them now. There were so many other things they didn't know that she knew. She certainly wasn't going to tell them about the gun.

-- U. Dubosarsky. The Red Shoe. p.23
What effect does the character have on other people?
How do other characters feel or behave in reaction to the character?
How does the character change those around them? What do they make them feel or do?

To create conflict, a character must do something or have something done to them, that is where the dramatic tension develops.

By the end of a story, a character may be profoundly changed as a result of another character.
What changes could occur and how might this happen?
The story is narrated by one character at a time.
One character's side of the story.
First Person Narrative
Whose point of view does first person narrative tell?
How could this limit the readers knowledge of events?
In which genres might first person narrative be most advantageous? Why?
First Person Pronouns
First person pronouns refer to the narrator or main speaker in your story. If they say 'I' they're are talking about themselves.

In plural form 'I' becomes 'we.' Indicating that the narrator belongs to a group.

eg: 'I have plenty of friends coming over tonight and we are going to have a party'
Second Person Narrative.
A main character (often the protagonist) is referred to by using 'you.'
A limited perspective on the events in the story by a character in the story.
Second Person Pronouns
The singular pronoun is 'you.'

The plural is the same.
'Youse' (Australian) and 'ya'll' (American) are dialect uses of the second person plural form of 'you' and are not considered grammatically correct
What effect does the use of second person narration have on the viewer?
Another Example
How does the song position the listener?
From whose point of view is the song from?
Why do you think the songwriter chose to use the second person?
Third Person Narrative
A narrator is not usually apart of the story and tells the reader everything that happens in the story

A very common narrative mode

Refers to all characters by their name or using a third person pronoun
Third Person Pronouns
Used for anything or anyone that the author is talking about,
eg: she, he and it.

She and he are used when gender are certain.

'It' is used for non-human objects, organisations, plants or where gender is unspecified.
The plural form is 'they' or 'them,' dependent on tense.
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