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What is a Short Story?

Often spans a relatively brief time period.


Has a lead that catches the readers attention,
identifies the main character, introduces
conflict, defines the setting, and establishes
point of view.
Reveals character using physical descriptions,
dialogue, actions and reactions of other
characters.
Has a plot that revolves around conflict, either
external or internal.
Usually written from first-person or third-person
point of view.
Has a theme that is closely tied to a change
occurring in the story.
Analyzing a story's plot: Freytag's Pyramid
Sometimes life is not simple.
tories are not always easy to
understand, either. Gustav Freytag
was a !"th #entury $erman novelist
who saw common patterns in the plots
of stories and novels and developed a
diagram to analy%e them. He
diagrammed a story&s plot using a
pyramid li'e the one shown here(
Freytag's Pyramid
!. )xposition( setting the scene. *he
writer introduces the characters and
setting, providing description and
bac'ground.
+. ,nciting ,ncident( something happens
to begin the action. - single event
usually signals the beginning of the
main conflict. *he inciting incident is
sometimes called &the complication&.
.. Rising -ction( the story builds and
gets more exciting.
/. #limax( the moment of greatest
tension in a story. *his is often the
most exciting event. ,t is the event that
the rising action builds up to and that
the falling action follows.
0. 1alling -ction( events happen as a
result of the climax and we 'now that
the story will soon end.
2. Resolution( the character solves the
main problem3conflict or someone
solves it for him or her.
Brea !o"n the Pyramid
4ot every story you read can be
diagrammed perfectly according to
1reytag&s 5yramid, but many can.
6efore we loo' at an example with
*itanic, lets try to simplify 1reytag&s
5yramid by brea'ing it down into 7ust
three parts( beginning, middle and
end.
8hich parts of 1reytag&s 5yramid
would form the #eginning of a story9
8hich parts would ma'e up the
middle9
8hich parts would ma'e up the end9
$itani% Plot Pyramid
*o help you understand the definitions
above, try to apply each step in
1reytag&s 5yramid to the seven
scenes you wrote down earlier. How
well do they fit9 -naly%e with a
partner.
4ext, copy 1reytag&s 5yramid on a
piece of paper and label each point on
the pyramid with these terms(
1. &'position
2. (n%iting (n%ident
). *ising A%tion
+. ,lima'
-. Falling A%tion
.. *esolution
:ac', Rose and the other
passengers wait in the fro%en
-tlantic Ocean to be rescued.
:ac' stops Rose from committing
suicide.
*he *itanic splits in two and sin's.
*he *itanic prepares to leave
)ngland for -merica with :ac'
and Rose onboard.
Rose is rescued and gives her
name as Rose ;awson. -s a
result, #al never finds her again.
Rose&s mother, her fianc<, #al,
and #al&s bodyguard try to 'eep
:ac' away from Rose as the two
begin to fall in love. *he ship hits
an iceberg.
,he% your ans"ers with the 'ey and
discuss 1reytag&s terms and definitions
again as they relate to the plot of
*itanic.
Here is one teacher&s analysis of the
most important moments in $itani%.
8rite each event above or below the
point that it matches on 1reytag&s
5yramid. *he order should be the
same as it occurred in the film.
$itani% Plot Pyramid: Ans"er /ey
0. &'position
*he *itanic prepares to leave )ngland for -merica with
:ac' and Rose on-board.
1. (n%iting (n%ident
:ac' stops Rose from committing suicide.
). *ising A%tion
Rose&s mother, her fiance, #al, and #al&s bodyguard try to
'eep :ac' away from Rose as the two begin to fall in love.
*he ship hits an iceberg.
+. ,lima'
*he *itanic splits in two and sin's.
-. Falling A%tion
:ac', Rose and the other passengers wait in the fro%en
-tlantic Ocean to be rescued.
.. *esolution
Rose is rescued and gives her name as Rose ;awson. -s
a result, #al never finds her again.

,hara%ter Study
#haracters in short stories reveal their personality in
four ways(
Physi%al !es%riptions: -uthors details about
his or her age, gender, and physical
dimensions.
!ialogue: 8hat the character says and the
words s3he uses.
A%tions: *he decisions s3he ma'es and the
things they do.
*ea%tions of 2ther ,hara%ters: *he ways
other characters behave around a character
tell us about him or her.
Setting
Where does the story ta'e place9
When does the story ta'e place9
What time of day9
What time of year9
What time in history=past, present or
future9
,onfli%t
Person vs. Person( - struggle between two
people.
Person vs. So%iety( - story that deals with a
social outcast who has been discriminated
against.
Person vs. 3ature( - story of survival in
extreme conditions or a battle with an animal.
Person vs. Supernatural( - conflict between
humans and demons, ghosts, or unnatural
forces.
Person vs. Self: -n internal conflict, usually a
moral dilemma that a character struggles with
a decision.
Point of 4ie"
First Person( *he main character tells the story,
which provides insights into the characters
thoughts and actions. Usually includes the word
>,? in the text.
$hird Person 2mnis%ient: - narrator who
'nows everything and tells everything about
every character.
$hird Person 5imited: - minor character tells
the story.
$hird Person 2#6e%tive: ,n the style of a news
report, offering only dialogue and action without
providing insights into characters or their
motivations.

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