5 Elements of a Short Story

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What Exactly is a Short Story?

A short story is a work of fiction with a fully developed theme. It is a chain of events that creates a "single effect" or mood.

A short story is a fictional narrative of between 1600 and 2000 words in length. Short stories evolved from the oral storytelling tradition and typically focus on a single subject or theme, a central character, and a single setting. Anything under 1000 words is considered flash fiction, and anything over 20,000 words is considered a novella.

According to Edgar Allen Poe, one of the most influential short story writers of the nineteenth century, a short story should be something you can read in a couple of hours. It's the ideal book for a long train ride. For a more concrete illustration, consider the small, thin paperback books sold at British railway stations in the 1800s.

Ghost stories, fairy tales, children's stories, and traditional folk tales are all examples of short stories. These stories typically begin and end abruptly, with little room for preamble. They are also frequently in an experimental state.


The 5 Elements of a Short Story

Before you can write a short story, you must first understand the five basic elements it contains. When writing short stories, all of these elements should be present.


1. Characters

Your story revolves around the characters. These are the people, animals, or objects who perform the action and bring the story to life. In comparison to novels, short stories usually have fewer characters. Consider these questions when creating your characters.

- Who is your main character (the protagonist)?

- Who is the villain (the antagonist)?

- What distinguishing characteristics do they have? In the story, you can give them a distinct physical appearance, trait, or even the way they speak.

- Are they static (stay the same throughout the story) or dynamic? (changes at one point in the story).


2. Setting

The setting is the location where the story takes place. Again, short stories have a much smaller setting than novels. In most cases, one or two are sufficient.

The reader is usually introduced to the setting of a story through descriptions. It could be a view of scenery, landscapes, buildings, or anything else. It's a nice touch to describe the time, season, and weather when the story takes place. It enables your audience to visualize the true feel and vibe of the setting.


3. Plot

The plot is the sequence of events that occurs in your short story. There are numerous plot types. Whatever you choose, it should be centered on a significant moment or experience.


4. Conflict

The struggle or tension that occurs in your story is referred to as the conflict. It usually involves the protagonist and the antagonist. The conflict may also occur between the main character and the environment or between the main character and himself/herself.


5. Theme

The theme of your story is the central belief or topic. It frequently has an impact on the human condition, society, or life.


How to structure a short story?

Every story is built around some form of logic, whether explicit or implicit. Short stories, regardless of length, format, or delivery style, follow a pattern or story arc. This pattern closely follows the plot of the story.

Many people believe that the basic structure of a short story is divided into three parts: the beginning, middle, and end. Even though this is correct, some people still get these parts mixed up. As a result, the reader loses interest. To make the structure much easier to construct, the ideal structure should be divided into five parts (and follow). However, if you want to make something more elaborate, you can follow the seven-part structure known as the Freytag's Pyramid.

The five-part structure will be used in this article. Here are five parts of a short story's structure to give you a more comprehensive framework for writing short stories.


1. Exposition

This is your introduction or the section where you tell your story. It addresses the five Ws of a story. Who, What, When, Where, and Why are the five W's.


2. Rising action

This is the section in which your main character must confront and resolve a conflict. The act of resolving the conflict will serve as the story's rising action.


3. Climax

This is the most important part of your story. Your character will now reach the climax after the tension created by resolving the story's conflict. It represents a watershed moment for your character. It indicates whether or not your character was successful in resolving the conflict.


4. Falling action

Falling action, also known as the "denouement," is the point at which the tension begins to subside. It concludes the conflict and the character's efforts to resolve it.


5. Resolution

Finally, the conclusion. This is the conclusion to your story. Depending on your plot and genre, it could have a happy or sad ending. This section concludes the story.

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