What is a Short Story?

What is a Short Story?


There are two main reasons for reading/writing short stories:

  1. To entertain: This is the first reaction we read. The first purpose of a short story is to enjoy.
  2. To teach: Many stories can go further than to simply entertain. The author often has a particular point of view which s/he wants to share. The writer uses the story to convey a lesson.


Limitations of the Short Story

1. Space - five or six thousand words

2. Characters - limited number of characters (3-5) they are revealed, not developed.

3. Main character - focus usually falls only on one

4. Setting - limited number of settings

5. Time - limitations of the length of time

6. Situation - attention is usually on one situation


Reading a Short Story

In reading a novel one can skim through parts of it which may not be very interesting and still not miss the key elements of importance. One cannot read a short story that way. In reading a short story one must be constantly on the alert for small details that may have enormous importance. If you miss these small details, you may miss a key point of revelation.