Characteristics of the Short Story
Even before there was good writing, there were stories. Short stories were told orally and were passed down from generation to generation. Even though short stories are works of fiction, the ideas for them originate in the real lives of the people who tell the stories or listen to them. Good stories reflect the values of the people who tell or write them, and so we can learn much about life and reality from these tales.
Here are the main characteristics of the short story.
1. A short story is not a shortened form of a novel; it is a literary form in itself.
2. A short story must be short. Because it is meant to be read at a single sitting; its average length is between 3000 and 4000 words. The beginning of the story is especially important as it must catch the reader’s interest and attention.
3. The average short story has no more than three characters. These characters should be life-like and believable.
4. The short story normally only spans a few hours or a few days out of a characters lifetime, and therefore, the background information or setting of the story is not usually very detailed. Every bit of information that is included in the story is consequently very important and meaningful.
5. There must be a struggle, problem, obstacle, or conflict to be overcome. Most often, this conflict will be the result of some aspect of the main characters personality.
6. As a good short story only describes one major action, event, or incident, there will only be one climax, followed almost immediately by falling action and then the conclusion. The climax of the short story is the point at which we suspect how the story will end or how the conflict will be resolved. It may or may not be the most exciting or highest point in the story.
In this first short story you will read, “Penny in the Dust”, the writer uses symbols and irony to bring more meaning to his writing. Both of these techniques are called literary...