Elements of a Short Story

Elements of the Short Story

The following six elements usually hold true in the short story:

  1. Plot
  2. Character
  3. Theme
  4. Setting
  5. Narrative point of view
  6. Conflict


The guiding principal of the short story is UNITY. For the most part there is a single character in a single situation at a single moment. The six elements must work together to provide a single unified impression.






There are four methods of character revelation.


  1. What he/she says
  2. What he/she does
  3. What other people say about him/her
  4. What the author says about him/her







Just to clear up

Atmosphere consists of the feeling created in the reader (e.g. Creatures, spells, apparitions, and disappearances are used to create a mysterious and magical atmosphere in Harry Potter). Mood is the feeling aroused in the reader by the events in the story. It is the emotional colouring given to the story and felt by the reader. There is generally one throughout the story (e.g. pity, joy, terror, empathy)


Narrative Point of View




Six Types of Conflict


  1. Man vs. man
  2. Man vs. themselves (The leading character struggles with themselves; with their soul, ideas of right or wrong, physical limitations, choices etc.)
  3. Man vs. circumstances (leading character struggles against fate, or the circumstances of life facing them)
  4. Man vs. Nature (The leading character struggles against ideas, practices, or customs of other people.
  5. Man vs. Supernatural )unnatural or uncontrollable forces.
  6. Man vs. Fate (fighting against one's own destiny)

External and Internal Conflict:


The Importance of the Title

There are many main functions of the title. The first is simply practical - it names the story and is therefore easy to remember. It attracts our interest and invites us to read. It often links the theme of the story or gives clues regarding the theme. It makes it easier for the reader to recognize the theme.