Elements of a Short Story Background Notes What is Fiction? • Fiction refers to any works of prose that have imaginary elements. • Although fiction can be inspired by actual events and people, it is usually the work of a writers imagination. • There are two main types of fiction: novels and short stories. • A novel is a long, complex work that can contain many characters, themes, and ideas. • A short story is much shorter than a novel, and can usually be read in one sitting. • Both novels and short stories are made up of four basic elements: plot, character, setting, and theme. The Elements of a Short Story • The sequence of events in a story is called the plot. Short stories usually have only one plot so they can be read in one sitting. • The plot of a story includes four stages: exposition, rising action, climax, and falling action, or resolution. • It is often helpful to diagram the plot like a pyramid. Plot Diagram Climax Rising Action Exposition Falling Action Resolution Elements of a Short Story • Plots are almost always built around conflicts, or struggles between opposing forces. There are two main types: – Internal conflict, which is a struggle a character has within him/herself. This could be when a character has to overcome some pain or obstacle. – External Conflict, which is a struggle a character has with some outside force. It can be a struggle with another person, with his/her environment, or with society and laws. Elements of a Short Story • The people, animals, and other creatures in a story are the characters. • There are several different classifications of characters, such as main and minor and static and dynamic. • Writers show a character’s traits through three main methods of characterization: Methods of Characterization • By a character’s own thoughts and actions • By other character’s thoughts about and actions towards a character • By describing a character using carefully chosen details. Elements of a Short Story • The setting of a story is where and when it takes place. • A story’s setting could take place in a real or imaginary setting, in the past, present or future. • Writers use vivid descriptions of the setting to paint a picture in the reader’s mind. • Setting can play an important role in what happens to a character and how they respond to problems. Elements of a Short Story • The theme of a story is the message or lesson the writer conveys to the reader. • The theme for a story might be “Never give upon your dreams”, or “honesty is always the best policy”. • Most themes are not directly stated in a story. A story’s theme can be revealed by: – The story’s title – Key phrases and statements about big ideas – The ways characters change and the lessons they learn about life.