Elements of a Short Story Background Notes

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
• 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
Plot Diagram
Rising Action
Falling Action
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
• 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
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
• 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.