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Short stories . Terminology & important concepts. general characteristics. THE SHORT STORY: a fictional, narrative piece of prose with many similarities to the novel much shorter than novels and cover a much shorter period of fictional time

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short stories

Short stories

Terminology & important concepts

general characteristics
general characteristics
  • THE SHORT STORY:
  • a fictional, narrative piece of prose with many similarities to the novel
  • much shorter than novels and cover a much shorter period of fictional time
  • without the luxury of the novel’s fully-developed characters and intricate plot complications, stories introduce and resolve the conflict(s) quickly
  • usually under 10,000 words
  • can usually be read in one sitting
  • intended to create a single impression (e.g., suspense, horror, mystery, fear, humour, pathos, wonder, etc.)
  • titles usually brief, arresting and key to understanding story
the laws of plot
the laws of plot
  • BASIC PRINCIPLES PRACTISED BY EXCEPTIONAL WRITERS
  • PLAUSABILITY
  • story is convincing on its own terms and is true to itself (does not have to be realistic)
  • SURPRISE
  • stories that preclude the unexpected are usually dull reading
  • SUSPENSE
  • readers should experience an expectant uncertainty as to the outcome of plot
  • this develops as we become aware of the developing uncertainty in the situation
slide4
plot
  • DEFINITION
  • sequence of events that make up the story
  • series of events or incidents that happen to the main character
  • series of incidents that produce a dramatic story with a beginning, middle and an end
plot cont
plot cont…
  • MAJOR ELEMENTS OF PLOT
  • EXPOSITION
  • background information provided by the author at the beginning of the story
  • INTRODUCTION
  • arouses reader’s interest
  • suggests the nature of conflict
  • introduces setting and characters
plot cont1
plot cont…
  • 3. INITIAL INCIDENT
  • first step in the plot
  • beginning of the rising action
  • RISING ACTION
  • complications or obstacles to the main character creating conflict and suspense
  • CRISIS
  • a high point of action
  • a complication in the plot
plot cont2
plot cont…
  • CLIMAX
  • most suspenseful moment or the height of the action
  • usually occurs at the point where the major conflict is resolved
  • outcome is inevitable from this point forward
  • point in story where the action and tension have peaked, and reader knows how conflict will be resolved
  • CONCLUSION
  • ties up loose ends of plot
  • usually short or absent
  • may restate theme/moral of story
plot cont3
plot cont…
  • DENOUEMENT (“Falling Action”)
  • unknotting of plot or conflict following climax
  • author ties up loose end of story
  • Note: Some stories end with the climax
narrative
narrative
  • NARRATIVE:
  • a story or telling of a story, or an account of a situation or events
  • narratives may be fictional or true
  • narratives may be written in either prose or verse
  • NARRATION:
  • the act of telling a story and thus the physical recounting of an event in time
  • NARRATOR:
  • a speaker through whom an author presents a narrative
  • usually, the speaker is a character in the story itself
  • every narrative has a narrator (sometimes there exists more than one)
narrative cont
Narrative cont...
  • POINT OF VIEW:
  • the vantage point from which a narrative is told (P.O.V. is “through whose eyes” the story is being told)
  • a narrative is typically told from the point of view from either:
narrative cont1
Narrativecont...
  • FIRST PERSON
  • point of view told by the main character
  • she is usually a part of the story and refers to herself in the first person, often using the pronoun “I”
  • SECOND PERSON
  • point of view denoted by the use of “you”
  • this technique is infrequently used in fiction
narrative cont2
Narrativecont…
  • THIRD PERSON
  • point of view using “he,” “she,” and “they”
  • the two types of third person P.O.V. are Omniscient and Limited omniscient
  • TYPE #1: OMNISCIENT (all knowing)
  • point of view which allows the author to not only recount the action thoroughly and reliably but also to enter the mind of any character in the work at any time in order to reveal her thoughts, feelings, and beliefs directly to the reader
  • TYPE #2: LIMITED OMNISCIENT
  • point of view which allows the author to recount the story through the eyes of a single character
  • such a point of view is therefore limited to what that character knows
  • this is the most common way of telling a story
characters
characters
  • PROTAGONIST
  • most important character(s) in story
  • traditionally referred to as the “hero”
  • not necessarily morally virtuous
  • ANTAGONIST
  • character with and against whom the protagonist struggles
  • usually a villain or evil character in story
  • not necessarily morally repugnant
characters cont
characters cont…
  • STOCK OR STEREOTYPED CHARACTERS
  • “typical” characters
  • usually described and characterized in 1-2 sentences (e.g., the bully, the kindly grandmother, the over-bearing father, the naïve child, etc.)
  • Note: Circular reasoning: these characters can be characterized quickly because what is revealed about them is usually consistent with the readers’ understanding of the character type (i.e., since we already have pre-conceived notions of different “types” of people we can “easily” point them out in a story)
characters cont1
characters cont…
  • MINOR CHARACTERS
  • periphery characters
  • only important insofar as they act as complements and/or foils for major characters
  • FOIL CHARACTERS
  • a character whose situation or actions parallel those of a major character, and thus by contrast sets off or illuminates the major character
characterization
CHARACTERIZATION
  • DEFINITION:
  • what the author does to inform the reader about the characters in a story
  • WAYS TO DEVELOP A CHARACTER:
  • what the author tells us about the character
  • physical traits the character possesses
  • statements made, and ideas thought by the character
  • how other characters perceive them
  • the actual name or title of the character
  • the actions of the character (i.e., what the character does in a situation)
characterization cont
CHARACTERIZATION cont…
  • CHARACTERIZATION AND INFERENCE
  • usually authors reveal what characters are like through the character’s reactions to the incidents and events of a story
  • therefore, the character is usually what she does (since the author has limited time to develop characters, this definition usually holds true in most short stories)
characterization cont1
CHARACTERIZATION cont…

STATIC CHARACTERS

  • remain the same throughout the story
  • 1 or 2-dimensional personalities
  • impervious and resistant to change

DYNAMIC CHARACTERS

  • change as a result of the events of the story
  • 3-dimensional personalities
  • amenable and open to change
characterization cont2
CHARACTERIZATION cont…

REALISM AND COMPLEXITY

    • the most memorable characters are usually the most believable
    • therefore, such characters behave consistently and with reasons for their statements, thoughts, and actions
    • however, characters must also be complex enough to surprise readers with their statements, thoughts, and actions
  • CHARACTER SKETCH
  • a written description of a character that examines his appearance and personality
conflict
CONFLICT
  • DEFINITION
  • the central problem, obstacle, or dilemma the protagonist has to deal with during the course of the narrative
  • the force or impetus that moves the plot along
  • the struggles in which the characters are involved and through which characterization is revealed
  • those things that cause or interfere with the solution to the problem facing the protagonist
  • the central conflict may in turn effect other kinds of conflict
conflict cont
CONFLICTcont…
  • BASIC KINDS OF CONFLICT:
  • INTERNAL: conflict that originates from within the character
  • EXTERNAL:conflict that occurs as a result of forces outside the character
conflict cont1
CONFLICTcont…
  • TYPES OF CONFLICT
  • 1. INDIVIDUAL AT ODDS WITH HERSELF
  • an internal and personal struggle
  • usually a crisis of conscience that psychologically, emotionally and/or spiritually “conflicts” the struggling character

2. INDIVIDUAL vs. INDIVIDUAL

    • conflict between two characters in opposition either mentally or physically
conflict cont2
CONFLICTcont…
  • 3. INDIVIDUAL vs. SOCIETY
  • conflict between a character in opposition to a law, rule or custom of his group or community, or;
  • between an individual and a group (e.g., neighbours, an institution, a corporation)
  • 4. INDIVIDUAL vs. THE UNKNOWN/DESTINY/FATE
  • a character challenges his destiny, and usually loses
  • 5. INDIVIDUAL vs. NATURE
  • conflict between a character and natural phenomena (e.g., typhoon, maelstrom, famine, hurricane, etc.)
terminology
terminology
  • THEME
  • not simply the subject of a literary work; rather, the theme is a statement that the text seems to be making about that subject
  • the statement can be moral or not
  • theme is distinguished from motif, a term that usually refers to a unifying element in an artistic work, especially a recurrent image, symbol, theme, character type, subject, or narrative detail
  • not usually stated directly in a short story – must be inferred from close reading
  • theme is developed through the interrelationship of all the characteristics of the short story
  • Example:The subject of a work might be suffering. The theme, depending on the view of the author, might be that suffering is in God’s plan and should therefore simply be accepted—or that it is a drain on an individual’s spirit or mind and should therefore be avoided at all costs.
terminology cont
terminology cont…
  • TURNING POINT
  • sometimes referred to as the crisis
  • the moment in a plot when the conflict has intensified to a level at which the protagonist’s situation will change decisively, either for the better or for the worse
  • SETTING
  • combination of place, historical time, and social environment that provides the general background for the characters and plot of a literary work
  • can be used to create conflict, reveal character, develop atmosphere or mood, or as a symbol to develop the story’s theme
  • frequently plays a crucial role in determining the atmosphere of a work
terminology cont1
terminology cont…
  • MOOD
  • the atmosphere the author creates in telling the story
  • may change during the story
  • the author can also make the reader feel, e.g., excited, sad, frightened, worried, curious, anxious, happy, or angry
  • suspense is a literary device used to create mood
  • SUSPENSE
  • the feeling of being uncertain about what is about to happen next
  • a state of expectation, anticipation, and curiosity about the outcome of a plot or the resolution of a conflict
terminology cont2
terminology cont…
  • STYLE
  • the way in which a literary work is written, the devices the author uses to express his thoughts and convey the work’s subject matter (or: the way in which the author tells the story)
  • the message or material that the author communicates to the reader, along with how the author chooses to present it produces an author’s individual style
  • some of the elements include:
  • - choice of words
  • - types of sentences
  • - figures of speech
terminology cont3
terminology cont…
  • DICTION
    • a speaker or author’s word choice (narrow definition)
    • vocabulary and syntax (broad definition)
    • Vocabulary: the degree of difficulty, complexity, abstractness, formality, and currency of words used, as well as the origin of the words chosen (native or foreign, Latinate or Germanic, etc.)
    • Syntax: the arrangement, ordering, grouping, and placement of words within a phrase, clause, or sentence
terminology cont4
terminology cont…
  • FLASHBACK
  • technique for presenting something that happens earlier (often prior to when the reader begins the story) that helps explain something about the current situation
  • origins: ancient epic tradition of beginning a work in medias res (“in the middle of things”) and then moving back in time to tell the beginning of the story
  • SYMBOLS
  • something that stands for or suggests something else (e.g., a lion often symbolizes courage; a river may symbolize time; a journey may symbolize life)
terminology cont5
terminology cont…
  • IRONY
  • a contradiction or incongruity between appearance or expectation and reality
  • surprise: the opposite of what is expected (or said) occurs
  • helps to suggest meanings without actually saying them
  • 3 types of irony:
  • Verbal:
  • the contrast between what is said and what is meant
  • Dramatic:
  • the contrast between what a character thinks to be true and what we the reader know to be true
  • Situational:
  • the contrast between what happens and what was expected to happen