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A story is a short work of fiction. Fiction, as you know, is prose writing about imagined events and characters. Prose
writing differs from poetry in that it does not depend on verses, meters or rhymes for its organization and
Novels are another example of fictional prose and are much longer than short stories. Some short stories, however,
can be quite long. If a a short story is a long one, say fifty to one hundred pages, we call it a novella.
American literature contains some of the world's best examples of the short story. Readers around the world enjoy the
finely crafted stories of American writers such as O. Henry, Stephen Crane, Jack London, Mark Twain and Edgar
Allen Poe.
What makes these authors such remarkable short story writers? They are true masters at combining the five key
elements that go into every great short story: character, setting, conflict, plot and theme.
The ELLSA web-site uses one of these five key elements as the focus of each of the five on-line lessons in the
Classics of American Literature section. In each lesson, you will explore a single American short story from the USIA
Ladder Series and discover how the author uses a certain element.
CHARACTER - A character is a person, or sometimes even an animal, who takes part in the action of a short story or
other literary work.
SETTING - The setting of a short story is the time and place in which it happens. Authors often use descriptions of
landscape, scenery, buildings, seasons or weather to provide a strong sense of setting.
PLOT - A plot is a series of events and character actions that relate to the central conflict.
CONFLICT - The conflict is a struggle between two people or things in a short story. The main character is usually
on one side of the central conflict. On the other side, the main character may struggle against another important
character, against the forces of nature, against society, or even against something inside himself or herself (feelings,
emotions, and illness).
THEME - The theme is the central idea or belief in a short story.
Limited number of characters
Short time spen
One main action
Limited places of action
Characters are not fully developed
Often open ending
Mostly no exposition: - text starts with the action itself
Special event in the life of the characters

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Narrative - A narrative is simply a written account that provides readers access to events that are connected to each
other within the context of a story. This means there are several types of narrative writing that can be used to convey
the necessary messages. Even plays, music, and movies benefit from the various forms of narrative writing that exist.
1. Alliteration: This type of narrative is used to create repetition through the rhythms and structures of the actual
words that are being offered to the reader.
a. Its often thought of through the use of a repetitive letter: Mix a box of mixed biscuits with a boxed
biscuit mixer. Sentence rhythm can also be a form of alliteration when youre using similar syllable
numbers or similar words throughout a paragraph or page.
2. Hyperbole: This type of narrative writing is used when an over-exaggeration is necessary to make a point. We
use hyperbole every day.
a. If you are so hungry that you could eat a horse, then you are using this technique to describe just
how hungry you are. This type of narrative is not intended to be read in the literal sense. It is instead
intended to provide a better description of what is really going on with a character or event.
3. Imagery: This type of narrative writing will create a visual reference for the reader. It appeals to the senses of
the reader through figurative language that makes sights, sounds, and even smells seem tangible and real.
a. Descriptive language is used to describe items within the narrative. Something might be Bright and
Joyous or it may be Dark and Gloomy.
4. Metaphors: This type of narrative writing incorporates a figure of speech that equates two ideas, situations, or
even characters together.
a. If youve ever studied Shakespeare, then youve seen a number of metaphors in action. All the
worlds a stage. Thats a metaphor. We know the planet isnt actually a stage in the literal sense. The
metaphor is simply used to convey an idea about the mechanics of how humanity isnt really in control
of how they enter or exit the world or behave within it.
5. Personification: This type of narrative writing gives objects without life certain human characteristics or
animal-like qualities.
a. The rocks shuddered at the coming storm. We all know that the rocks themselves cannot shudder,
but the wind of an incoming storm could make them move and shudder. The personification here,
however, is directed more at the fear people sometimes feel when a big storm is headed their way.
People shudder when a storm is severe, which means they can directly relate to the rocks shuddering.
6. Similes: This type of narrative writing compares two things together, but one of those things is very different
than the other. The goal is to create a description that is more vivid to the reader, or at the least more emphatic.
a. If someone is crazy like a fox, then the description used would be a simile. It is important to
remember that a simile differs from a metaphor because it typically uses connective words to complete
the description, such as like in the example used above.

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