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Elements of the Short
Mrs. Efpatridis – Grade 9 Academic English
What is a Short Story?
It’s a piece of prose fiction, usually under 10, 000 words, which
can be read at one sitting.
In a short story every word counts, and is carefully selected by
Artistically, a short story is intended to create an impression
A good story entertains, arouses questions about life, and
makes the reader question his or her own values.
The effect a story has is created through these elements:
Character and Characterization
Style (which includes a number of devices)
The Plot Graph
Plot is the story’s plan of action: the series of events that make up the story.
A Plot Graph is an excellent way to map out the important plot details in a given story.
It allows the student to select the pertinent plot elements and trace how they build to the end of the story.
How the problem is
Highest point of
Plot Points in Detail
Introduces setting, characters, and the conflict
Serves to entice the reader to keep reading
The KEY event that causes or initiates the action in the story
The main part of a story, when the main character tries to solve his or her
Suspense, conflicts, problems or obstacles all occur to create a series of crises.
A crisis refers to a problem which is produced by the conflicts, etc.
At this point the action can go in many different directions. Serves to entice the
reader to keep reading
Plot Points in Detail-cont’d
The turning point of the story where conflicts are resolved.
The highest point of interest in the story when a characters solves
It is the outcome of a decision that had to be made. This major
decision influences the rest of the story.
The part of a story that leads to the ending or resolution.
This element refers to the final details of the story. Conflicts are
over, and final statements are made.
Not all stories have a formal conclusion.
This term refers to the feeling that
is created in the story
The author uses certain descriptive words,
images, details about setting, etc. to
create feelings in the reader of fear,
anger, happiness, shock, etc.
This term is often referred to as MOOD. It is the
“emotional colouring” in story.
Character refers to the individuals that are depicted in each story.
Without characters there can be no story!
Usually there is only one central figure around whom the events of the story
This character is called the PROTAGONIST: a regular character or a hero or
An ANTAGONIST is a character who opposes the protagonist; often
working in contrast to the protagonist such as a villain.
Characters are identified by a dominant trait, motivation, or characteristic such
as loyalty, ambition, greed, arrogance
Characters are often classified as STATIC (those who are barely revealed
and/or change very little throughout a story) or DYNAMIC (those who
change or transform throughout a story and are described at great length)
Characterization refers to how characters are developed and depicted.
Authors use a variety of methods to reveal their characters and to
communicate information about them:
1. The physical description of the character: what he/she looks like! (narrator’s input)
2. What a character says (dialogue) gives insight to his/her personality. Authors use
dialogue skillfully in the short story to portray character, add suspense, and to dramatize
3. What a character does (actions) provides an impression for the reader
4. What a character thinks (thoughts) offers a glimpse into what he/she is like
5. What others say about the character (inference) lets us gain insight about the
Types of Characterization
There are two ways character is established:
This is where the author comes right out and tells the reader what a certain
character is like.
Ex. In “Being Comfortable with being Weird”, the author/narrator calls a character a “superficial little wench.”
This is where the author gives certain information and lets readers draw their own
conclusions about the character.
1. Character’s Name (or nickname) ex “Mouse”
2. Character’s Appearance
3. What a Character says
4. What a Character thinks
5. What other people think/say about the character
6. What the character does. Actions speak louder than words.
The central source of tension in the story
It usually involves a struggle between opposing characters, emotions,
Conflict is sometimes referred to as the problem in the story. Therefore,
it must be solved or a goal must be achieved to resolve it.
The plot of the story usually revolves around conflict!
There are TWO main types of conflict present in most stories:
Person vs Person
Person vs Society
Person vs The Environment (Nature)
Person vs Fate
Person vs Technology
Person vs Animals
Person vs The Supernatural
Person vs Self
Theme is the main message or idea the author is
trying to communicate in the story about life or
It is generally an underlying idea or value about the
very topic that the author wrote about
Themes are often universal truths that are suggested
by the specifics of the story but it is not stated
Theme is not directly stated
Most simply it CAN BE the moral or lesson BUT
these are different concepts
Tragic Love in Romeo and Juliet
Fitting In in Being Comfortable with being Weird
Plays an important role in many stories.
Often helps create the MOOD
It is the environment in which the story takes
It refers to both the time (era) that a story is set
and the place (location) where the action occurs
Style-created through the use of several
The ‘style’ of a short story refers to the author’s particular way of
writing. It is the way in which the writer uses language and writing
techniques to create his/her story.
Some things that make up a writer’s style include:
Diction: choice of words
Types of sentences
Simple, compound, fragments
Use of stylistic devices and/or poetic language
(metaphor, simile, etc. and/or assonance, alliteration)
Tone: the language in a story that suggests the writer’s or
narrator’s own attitude toward characters, objects, and topics in
Theme: the message itself indicates the author’s
Point of View
Many devices (see Literary Devices note) can be used to create a
specific outcome or effect.
Style also includes the point of view
Point of view refers to the perspective from which a
story is told
There are THREE common points of view:
First-person point of view: the story is told by the
protagonist, a minor character or an interested bystander using
the pronouns I or we
Third-person OMNISCIENT point of view: all-seeing, all-
knowing perspective. It reveals the thoughts and emotions of
several characters using he, she, and they.
Third-person LIMITED point of view: uses the pronouns
he, she and they, but tells the story from the perspective of one
of the characters.