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Republic of the Philippines

ILOILO SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY UNIVERSITY


Burgos St., La Paz, Iloilo City
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• Website: www.isatu.edu.ph • FB Fanpage: WVCSTInfocus

MAUREEN MAE E. MANA-AY DR. CATHERINE L. SUMACULUB

READING: MODERN SHORT STORY

SHORT STORIES: GENERAL

Short Story: A fictional tale of a length that is too short to publish in a single volume like a
novel. Short stories are usually between five and sixty pages; as a result, they can be read in a
single setting. Usually, short stories concentrate on a single event with only one or two
characters.

ELEMENTS OF A SHORT STORY


The modern short tory uses five basic elements: plot, character, setting, point of view and theme.
It deals with one situation or single episode which concentrates upon one critical moment or
emotion crisis, limited to one time place. All the elements are directed towards a single effect
which produces a unity of impression.

 Single Episode: A series of incidents or events, closely related in time and place, are
aimed at one crisis and outcome.
 Single Effect: Every element is focused upon the single effect desired.
 Unity of Impression: Everything admitted relates to the single effect.
 Length: A short story is limited to 3000 to 25,000 words. A novella is 25,000 to
60,000 words. A novel is 60,000 words and up.

I. PLOT
Plot is how the author arranges events to develop his/her basic idea. It is the sequence of
events in a story or play. The plot is a planned, logical series of events having a
beginning, middle and end. The classical division of plot are:

 Introduction (exposition) – the introductory part of a narrative, in which characters


and conflicts are identified and the setting and tone established.
Example: Three little pigs leave home to find adventure in the big world.

 Rising Action – tension increases as the initial incident or conflict gets worse.
Example: The Pig come across a beautiful clearing they think will be a perfect spot to
build their homes. Pig #1 builds a house of straw, Pig #2 builds a house of sticks, Pig
#3 builds a house of bricks. Big Bad Wolf blows the straw house down and Pig #1
escape to Pig #2’s house. Big Bad Wolf blows the stick house down and Pig #1 & Pig
#2 escapes to Pig #3’s house. Big Bad Wolf tries several times, but he can’t blow
down brick house.

 Climax (point of greatest intensity) – the turning point in the plot structure, the peak
at which the rising action reverse and becomes falling action. In a short story, the
climax is the point at which the outcome of the story becomes inevitable.
Example: Wolf decides to sneak down the chimney to get the pigs.

 Falling Action (Denouement) – the events and complications begin to resolve


themselves. The reader knows what has happened next and if the conflict was
resolved or not.
Example: Wolf falls into boiling pot of soup.

 Resolution – the resolution of the plot in any dramatic narrative; the events that
follow the climax of the plot.
Example: The Big Bad Wolf is so scared of the 3Pigs that runs off in the woods never
to be seen again. The 3 little Pigs live happily ever after.

Plot has three types of endings:


 Happy ending: the protagonist is able to solve his problems; that is, he overcomes
his antagonist.
 Unhappy ending: the protagonist does not overcome the conflict; however, he
probably changes in some aspect of his character, often for the better. This form of
ending is more realistic and true to life, as it will raise significant issues about life
that will leave the reader with much to think about. For example, most of us aim
for goals far beyond our ability to achieve them. A few will succeed, which is the
happy ending; but the majority of us must settle for lesser achievement.
 Indeterminate ending: can be described as having no solution to conflict;
therefore, no definite conclusion is reached. However, the story does end
satisfactorily; it does not just stop.

Plot makes use of technical devices to create mood:


 Suspense- raises the reader’s interest about the next event or the outcome. It is
created by rousing sympathy, anxiety, curiosity, anger or any of the emotions that
make us want to read on to discover the outcome.
 Coincidence – is the occurrence of two chance happenings that have a definite
correspondence.
 Chance – is the occurrence of an event which has no previous cause for its
happening. It is the unexpected, but lies with the realm of life’s possibilities.
 Foreshadowing- occurs when the author hints at what is to come without giving
away any information that will destroy interest. Foreshadowing build suspense.
 Surprise – results when the unexpected happens in a story.
 Mystery or Dilemma – is used to grab the reader’s interest so that he wants to
read on to discover how the story evolves. A dilemma is a situation in which the
protagonist faces two choices, neither of them desirable.
 Withholding Information – builds suspense when clues, explanations and
answers are kept from the reader as long as possible.

II. SETTING
The setting is the place where the story takes place. Setting includes the following:

 The setting (time and place) is generally singular in the short story. If the events
occur over a long period of time, they will usually occur in the same locality.
 The setting fills in background: historically, socially, geographically, politically,
economically or religiously. All stories must have a setting. Ti may be merely
decorative and kept in the background.
 The setting influences the characters, their actions, the theme and the story’s
outcome. It may include:
 Geographical features of a location such as scenery, a harsh environment,
outer space
 An urban setting, a building or room
 Occupations and daily living conditions
 Religious, moral, social, political, economic and emotional climates of the
story
 Dates, times, eras of the historical setting
 Use of time as an element of suspense
 The setting builds the atmosphere and tone - if it is influential in developing
the action.

III. CHARACTER AND CHARATERIZATION

Characterization
The presentation of fictional beings as credible persons; also the particular methods—
description, detail, action, dialogue—that the author uses to make his characters
believable.

 Direct/Explicit – the author literally tells the audience what a character is like.
This may done via narrator, another character or by the character him or himself.
 Indirect/Implicit – the audience must figure out for themselves what the
character is like through the character’s thoughts, actions, speech (choice of
words, way of talking), looks and interaction with other characters, including
other character’s reaction.

Characterization is either dynamic or static:


 Dynamic – Also known as a kinetic character, a dynamic character changes in
some important way because of plot events.
For example: a cruel old man might see the error of his ways and become
generous and kind or a gentle girl becomes vicious and angry because her parents
divorce.
 Static – These characters are the opposite of dynamic characters. These people
don’t change through the course of a story. They have the same personality
throughout.

Major types of characters:


 Protagonist – the main character; the character everything revolves around (“the
good guy”)
 Antagonist – the character or force that struggles against the protagonist or
causes him or her conflict/problems (“the bad guy”).
 Stock – stock stereotyped figures in fiction occur so often that we recognize them
immediately: Robin Hood, Sherlock Holmes.

Minor Characters:
 Character Foil – A character foil, or simply “foil”, occurs when two characters
balance each other in some way; they are almost like two halves of a whole
person.
 Confidant – is a character, sympathetic to the protagonist, who is used to draw
out the central character.
 Type Character - are typical of rural life, an occupation, a life style, or an ethnic
group. These characters never develop or change.

Characteristics: Features or traits that the author combines to create the personality and
appearance of his characters.
There are two types of characteristics:
1. Behavioral – information that discloses how a character behaves (happy,
sad, kind, mean).
2. Physical – information that discloses a character’s appearance (sloppy,
meat, tall, short)

IV. THEME
The theme in a piece of fiction is its controlling idea or its central insight. 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 title of the short story
usually points to what the writer is saying and he may use various figures of speech to
emphasize his theme. such as: symbol, allusion, simile, metaphor, hyperbole, or irony.

Some simple examples of common themes from literature, TV, and film are:
1. Things are not always as they appear to be
2. Love is blind
3. Believe in yourself
4. People are afraid of change
5. Don't judge a book by its cover

V. POINT OF VIEW
Point of view in a story refers to the consistent outlook which may be from one person’s
point of view to that of several people. The author has four points of view to choose
from:
 First Person Subjective – this point of view is accomplished through the main
character’s narration of events that occur to him or her, past or present. First
person point of view is usually easily identified because of the author's use of
the pronouns "I" and "my".
 Second Person Point Of View – Second-person narration is when the narrator
refers to the main character as "you," making the reader feel as if he or she is a
character within the story. Second person point of view is usually written in the
present tense. Because of its limitations and the annoying onus it places on the
reader it is very seldom used for any longer texts or stories.
 Third Person Points Of View – The third-person narrative is one of three
possible points of view for telling a story. In a third person narrative, the
participants in the narrative are understood to be distinct from the person telling
the story. Third person narratives employ the words "she, he, they".
The three most common forms of third person narration are:
 A third person omniscient narrator witnesses all events, even some that no
characters witness. The omniscient narrator is privy to all things past, present
and future - as well as the thoughts of all characters. The story can focus on
any character at any time and on events where there is no character.
 The third person limited omniscient point of view is limited to the the
thoughts and feelings of one character. The story is told through the eyes of
one character.
Example: Harry Potter Series by JK Rowling
 The third person objective is similar to a video of an event. The reader is
privy to all the actions of usually all the characters, but the narrator does not
reveal character's thoughts and emotions.
Example: Hills like White Elephants by Ernest Hemingway

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