The Short Story


“a story that can be read in one sitting” (Edgar Allen Poe)

General characteristics

  • limited number of characters, often only one main character (=protagonist) and little/no character development (cf. novels e.g. by Charles Dickens with over 20 main characters)
  • limited time span: only a few hours, days or weeks (cf. novels that cover a whole lifetime or even several generations)
  • a single theme/plot (cf. novels that can deal with several/many themes and can have various sub-plots)

Typical structure of the plot

  • Exposition: introduction of main character(s) and setting (place, time, general social background), hints at theme and/or atmosphere; often no or very short exposition: story begins “in medias res”, e.g. in the middle of a dialogue
  • Rising action: development of the conflict
  • Climax: conflict reaches its highest point
  • [Turning point: a change in the conflict]
  • [Falling action: reduction of suspense]
  • Ending
    • Denouement: conflict is resolved
    • Open ending: conflict is not resolved, reader wonders what might happen next
    • Surprise ending: reader’s expectations are not fulfilled

[these elements are not always present]

englisch/short-story.txt · Zuletzt geändert: 06.08.2020 (11:28) von

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