Exploring Short Stories

Exploring short stories

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Review of Short Stories

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Page 1: Exploring short stories

Exploring Short Stories

Page 2: Exploring short stories

What is a Short Story

The short story is a work of fiction that is shorter and more limited than a novel.› Usually focuses on one important event in

the lives of a small number of central characters

› Short stories vary in length but usually short enough to be able to be read in one sitting

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The Basic Elements of the Short Story

Character- who the story is about Conflict- when central problem causes

action Setting- where the action takes place Point of View- who is telling the story Theme- what the story is really about

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Character- the most important element of the short story, the people the story is about

Characters should come alive. You should have a real life connection with them.

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The protagonist is the “good guy”› Protagonist- main character of the story

The antagonist is the “bad guy”

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How Writers Portray Character

Characterization- the process by which authors communicate their characters to readers

Direct Characterization- occurs when the author tells readers about a character directly

Indirect characterization- lets readers draw their own conclusions from clues in the story, such as a character’s appearance, tone of voice, or behavior:› Mr. Smith laughed meanly and kicked a stray dog

out of the way as he walked down the street.

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Conflict provides the tension and drama that stories are built upon







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Setting- environment in which a story takes place (time and place of the story)› Short stories usually have only one major

setting A story’s setting can have both

physical and psychological effects on the action and character of the story

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How Writers Create Setting

By using realistic details, the author makes the story more believable.

Details help readers imagine that events are happening in a specific place.

By describing the setting in images that appeal to the senses, the author creates a vivid atmosphere that readers can associate with settings in their own experiences.

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Point of View

Point of View- the perspective from which the story is told

A story’s point of view is called omniscient when the author is outside the story and presents the thoughts of all the characters involved.

Other points of view are called limited when the story is told from the viewpoint of one character who can see only a part of the whole story.

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The point of view is the perspective of the story

“That rotten wolf tried to eat us!”

“I was framed! I just wanted to borrow a cup of sugar!”

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Theme is the message the author intends to communicate

A story’s themes are often universal truths.

The theme is often suggested by specifics in the story.

The struggle between good and evil is a common theme in literature.

The differences between nature and civilized society is a common theme in short stories

The conflict between individual and the community is another common theme

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The structure represents how the story is told. It is the framework for the story. Most structures include:› Exposition› Rising Action› Climax› Falling Action› Resolution

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Plot Structure

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Is the sequence of events in a story, each event causing or leading to the next

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1. Exposition

An introduction to people, places, and situations that are important to the plot of a story, novel, or play.

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Narrative Hook

The point at which the author catches our attention

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Rising Action

Adds complications to the problems and increases our interest in the story

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The point of our highest interest and greatest emotional involvement in the story

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Falling Action

Relates the events that are the results of the climax

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Ends the falling action of a story by telling or implying the final outcome

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Suspense involves techniques that authors use to keep readers wondering what will happen next

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Climax (Most Exciting)

The climax of a short story is that dramatic moment when the tension reaches its peak and the conflict comes to a head.

Since the construction of the short story is limited, the short story usually only has one major climax.

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The resolution follows the climax. It shows how the conflict winds down and the story ends.

Sometimes the resolution is not clearly defined, leaving readers to decide for themselves how to interpret the ending.

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Additional TechniquesWriters Use to Tell Their Stories

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Style is defined by the characteristic ways in which an author uses language. Almost like authors’ fingerprints, style identifies their individual writing as their own.

Writers’ styles are made up of such elements as the quality of their vocabulary, the length and complexity of their sentences, and the imagery and symbols they use.

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Foreshadowing is a technique used to give readers clues about events that will happen later in the story. › “A dark cloud gathering in the sky” could

be introduced to suggest that the light mood in the story is about to change.

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Dialogue refers to the actual words that characters speak. The central conflict of the story can be powerfully dramatized in the story’s dialogue.

The way individuals speak can also be an important clue about their characters.

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Authors use description of characters, settings, and action to make the story more vivid for the reader

The best writers are skilled observers. They are able to select just the right details to capture the essence of people and places in their stories.

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Imagery is the use of selected details to describe one thing in terms of another. This comparison helps evoke additional meanings and feelings› She swam as gracefully as a swan.› He ate like a pig.

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A symbol is an image or object that also stands for something larger than itself› A flag is a symbol for the country it

represents. In many short stories, authors also use

symbols to represent general ideas such as “good” or “evil”

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Tone expresses the writer’s attitude toward such story elements as characters, setting, or a situation.

Tone can range from playful or humorous to serious or tragic.

An author’s tone is communicated by clues in the style of the story, such as word choice or imagery.

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Irony is a particularly effective kind of tone in which the person speaking intends a meaning that is opposite to the words he or she actually says› Opposite of what is expected

Authors often use an ironic tone to surprise the reader and emphasize a point› Mr. Pennypincher considered himself to be a

generous man; there wasn’t anyone he wouldn’t offer his smile to.

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Dramatic Irony

Dramatic Irony is another technique that increases suspense by letting the reader know more about the present situation than the character knows.› The reader might know that there is a

bomb in a character’s briefcase when the character himself does not!

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Structure Summary

Exposition- introduces the characters, setting, and background situation

Complication- introduces complications and obstacles that increase the tension of the story conflict

Climax- the moment in the story when tension rises to its highest point and the conflict comes to a head

Resolution- describes how the conflict is finally resolved and the story comes to a close.

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Literary Elements

Foreshadowing Protagonist Conflict Characters

Setting Climax Point of view Antagonist