How to talk about a Short Story
Like my how to talk about a poem page, this page will tell you how to talk
about a short story. To start--A short story is a brief
work of fiction consisting of five parts (listed below.) Although
the short story originated much earlier, it has received its greatest
recognition as a literary form in this century.
I. PLOT--the action of a story
Instead of just retelling the story, give a basic outline of it by telling
- how it begins
- what the conflict is
- what the climax is
- how it ends and if this ending was consistent and satisfying
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II. CHARACTER--tell about the main character or
characters (not just a physical descriptions--what kind of people are
How do we find out about them--
- by what they say
- by what they do
- by what is said about them
Do not fail to mention if you see anything unusual about the type of
characters that are used. They could be
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III. SETTING--time and place
Is the setting important to the plot
How would the story change if the
setting where different?
The answers to these questions are indicators of
whether or not the setting is important
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IV. THEME--the author's purpose in writing
There are many
different possible themes; a novel may have more than one them. The possible
themes could be:
- moralistic--to teach a lesson
- for entertainment--just to tell an exciting tale
- to make us laugh
- to weave a fantasy and let us escape from reality
- to explore a certain character
- to explore a certain setting and how it affected people or events
***In connection with the theme, always consider the title. It will often
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V. STYLE--the way an author writes
This element of the short
story is often the most difficult to understand and discuss at first. Here are
some possible things to consider, but remember to use your own observations
about the way the author writes.
- Is symbolism important?
- Are there any flash backs, or is the story's time element chronological?
- What is the point of view? (1st person, 3rd person all-knowing, 3rd person
- Was exaggeration used in the story and why?
- Was the ending foreshadowed and consistent?
- Which of the elements is the most important in the story?
- How does the author use dialogue?
- Is humor used? How is it used?
- Is there anything unusual about the character types?
- What else did you observe about the way the story was written?
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