Short Story Writing

Short Story Writing :

A short story is a work of fiction that is usually written in prose, often in narrative format.

This format tends to be more pointed than longer works of fiction. When you read any short story, you will find that it almost always contains the following elements.

Setting : The time and location in which a story takes place is called the setting.

Plot : The plot is how the author arranges events to develop his basic idea. It is the sequence of events in a story or play. The plot is a planned, logical series of events hating a beginning, a middle and an end. The short story usually has one plot. So it can be read in one sitting.

Conflict : Conflict is essential to plot. Without conflict there is no plot. It is the opposition of forces which ties one incident to another and makes the plot move. Conflict is not merely limited to open arguments. Rather it is any form of opposition that faces the main character. Within a short story there may be only one central struggle or there may be one dominant struggle with many minor ones. There are two types of conflict.

external (a struggle with a force outside one’s self)

internal (a struggle within one’s self; a person must make some decision, overcome pain, quiet their temper, resist an urge and so on)

Character : A short story usually contains at least two characters. However, like all things in the English language, this rule can have exceptions. While thinking of characters for your short story, it would be a good idea to keep the following points in mind.

Characters are convincing if they are consistent, motivated and life-like (resemble real people).

Characters are individual (round, many-sided and complex personalities) and developing (dynamic, many-sided personalities that change, for better or worse, by the end of the story).

Characters are static (stereotype, have one or two characteristics that never change and are emphasised, for instance, brilliant detective, drunk, cruel stepmother and so on).

Theme : The theme in a piece of fiction is its central idea. It is the author’s underlying meaning or main idea that he is trying to convey. The theme may be the author’s thoughts about a topic or view of human nature. The tide of the short story usually points to what the writer is saying.

In school assignments, questions on short story writing basically follow the types listed below.

A title is given and you have to write a short story to which the title would be appropriate.

For example :

Trapped - in this instance, you will have to write an original short story to which the title TRAPPED would be an appropriate title.

The beginning or ending line is given and you have to either begin your story or end the story with the given line.

For example :

Varun had just cleared up his room when he heard his mother’s voice impatiently shouting out to him to come and have his breakfast. He was just about to turn and head towards the kitchen when he glimpsed a pair of bright eyes peeping from under his bed...
(Beginning line)

Geeta longed for the dull routine of her daily life. She longed to get bored. The past few days had made her realise that she was not really made for adventure.
(Ending line)

In the above two examples, you will have to begin or end with the lines given. Two or three elements are given. These elements should play an important part in your story.

For example :

Write an original short story in which a needle, a button and a tailor play an important part.

Note : One very important point to remember is that a short story must be an original one. Lifting stories from other books, films or television serials is strictly prohibited.

Write a short story on each of the examples given above.

Short Story Writing

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