Monday, November 22, 2010

Buddhasravaka Bhiksu University-Anuradhapura/Diploma Course in English/Diploma

What is a short story?
A short story is a fictional work of prose that is shorter in length than a novel. Edgar Allan Poe, in his essay The Philosophy of Composition, said that a short story should be read in one sitting, anywhere from a half hour to two hours. In contemporary fiction, a short story can range from 1,000 to 20,000 words.
Because of the shorter length, a short story usually focuses on one plot, one main character (with a few additional minor characters), and one central theme, whereas a novel can tackle multiple plots and themes, with a variety of prominent characters. Short stories also lend themselves more to experimentation — that is, using uncommon prose styles or literary devices to tell the story. Such uncommon styles or devices might get tedious and downright annoying, in a novel, but they may work well in a short story.
Definition of the short story
A short story is a “short piece of fiction aiming at unity of characterization, theme and effect.
The authors of the modern English short story, no longer attempt to make daily life more entertaining by inventing exotic plots. Instead, modern short story writers have tended to base their narratives on their own experience; here the focus is much more on the less spectacular aspects of life, on the significance underlying what is apparently trivial. The result of such perceptive writing is perfection of form, harmony of theme and structure, and precision of style to reveal the subtleties of the human mind and of human behaviour.
Many attempts have been made to define the short story. But, on a few points at least, the opinion of most critics is unanimous. This does not imply that the literary form of the American short story can be set up in a rigid way. It has undergone and will probably still undergo many changes as the literary taste and demands of the reading public also change in the course of time with new outlooks on life.
What are some of the elements that make up a good story?
• A short story is a piece of prose fiction which can be read at a single sitting.
• It ought to combine matter-of-fact description with poetic atmosphere.
• It ought to present a unified impression of temper, tone, colour, and effect.
• It mostly shows a decisive moment of life (which can entail a fatal blow).
• There is often little action, hardly any character development, but we get a snapshot of life.
• Its plot is not very complex (in contrast to the novel), but it creates a unified impression and leaves us with a vivid sensation rather than a number of remembered facts.
• There is a close connection between the short story and the poem as there is both a unique union of idea and structure.
• The short story is a piece of art that tries to give us a specified impression of the world we live in. It aims to produce a single narrative effect with the greatest economy of means and utmost emphasis.
• Anton Chekhov
Short story is a slice of life.
• Invented prose narrative shorter than a novel usually dealing with a few characters and aiming at unity of effect and often concentrating on the creation of mood rather than plot.

• Write your own short story.
• Find more information about the short story.
• Develop the following sentence into a short story.
I never expected her arrival, but …
• Read the short story, The Stench of Kerosene by Amrita Pritam and comment on it.
• Collection of Short Stories (Group Activity) (Written by the students of the Diploma Course-2010)- Assignment for the students

D.N. Aloysius
Rajarata University of Sri Lanka

Do this activities and email them to

No comments:

Post a Comment