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A short story can be identified by a
number of features
 They have a small number of characters,
as there is not enough time for many to be
developed
 Typically fiction, written in prose in a
narrative format
 The setting or plot is simpler
 Contain most of the key elements of a
novel
 When there is a plot, it may lack the
typical climax or build up that is seen in
most novels
 The story may be left incomplete or
unfinished, without resolution
 Some short stories may lack a plot, instead giving a
snapshot in time of the protagonists thoughts, feelings
and situation. In this case, there is often a message,
moral or lesson in the story.
 This is different from the story, as it does not need to
be in chronological order.
A typical contour of a narrative is shown below.
However, a short story does not necessarily
follow this.
When you are analysing the plot,
consider:
 What is the nature of the conflict?
 What are the other elements of the plot,
such as time, foreshadowing, flashbacks,
etc?
 What changes take place as the plot
unfolds?
 Identify the different sections of the plot.
 Techniques such as irony, suspense and
coincidence
 What is the effect of the order of events?
 What effect does the plot have on the
readers’ emotional response?
The story may be told in first or third person
This is the narrator
The type of narrator affects the tone,
interpretation and meaning.
Narrator may be unreliable or
omniscient
There may be multiple
narrators
Political, cultural, historical, physical,
emotion, geographical
Can be in time or space
Usually only have one setting
Consider how the story is established, and
what function does it serve?
Single or two settings – do not go far from it
Brief time period
Rely on metaphor
Round Characters – Have many traits and are
real
Characters may be static or dynamic
 Mariam in “A Red Spot” is static, whereas the
protagonist in dynamic.
You should identify the protagonist,
antagonist, and any flat, round, foil, static,
dynamic
The intended lesson, moral or idea contained
in the story
 Can you identify a them in the story
There can be a stated theme, or an implied
theme.
Are there generalisations about human life
made in the story
Many short stories use implied theme
Conveys a meaning through another objects
or thing.
The suggested meaning is different from the
literal meaning
Includes allegories
Techniques and devices in the language of
the story
Includes diction, syntax, dialect, dialogue,
tone, irony, oxymoron, colloquialisms
Parables – Has a lesson in mind
Fables – Story with a moral, but doesn’t
always have a lesson. Not an explicit
teaching – there is more focus on the story
itself
Anthology – A collection of short stories,
usually with a similar context (place, time) –
Sardines and Oranges
Static Characters – Stay the same – Mariam Red
Spot
Dynamic Characters – Develop and change over
time – Main character tortoise
Foil Character – A characters that is juxtaposed
against the protagonist -
Omniscience – A third person narrative, when
they are removed and see everything that is
going on
Unreliable narrator – Does not give reliable
information because they misinterpret it or are
deceptive, such as a child, or insane person
Grammatical structure
 - past
Usually have a lingering message
Setting – where the story takes place
 Philosophical
 Time
 Place
 Political
 Historical
 Geographical
 Cultural
 Emotional
 Often exposition -> complication -> crisis ->
climax -> resolution -> moral
Third person
Point of view
Subjective
Symbolism
Syntax
Diction
First person narrative

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