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Home Notebook for Topics in Literature: Rites of Passage (Spring 2006) Notebook for Effective Writing I (Spring 2006) Notebook for Topics in Literature: Imaginary Worlds (Fall 2005) Notebook for Effective Writing I (Fall 2005)
Notebook for Topics in Literature: Rites of Passage (Spring 2006)
Notebook for Effective Writing I (Spring 2006)
Notebook for Topics in Literature: Imaginary Worlds (Fall 2005)
Notebook for Effective Writing I (Fall 2005)
Defining the Short Story
To get started, you can consider this definition from a standard literary glossary:
“…a relatively brief fictional narrative in prose, anywhere from 500-15,000 words in length. Distinct from the “sketch” or the “tale” in that it has a definite formal development, finding its unity in more than plot—in character, effect, theme, tone, mood, and style.”
Here are some interesting definitions offered by graduate students in a fiction writing workshop:
I once heard or read somewhere that a novel is a work of fiction of a certain length that has something wrong with it. Perhaps a short story is a work of fiction of a certain (somewhat shorter) length that has nothing wrong with it. I don’t mean to evade the question; I think a short story can be any number of things (snapshot, an entire life, a voice coming to me from an interesting place) but the main thing it is, if it succeeds, is true to itself in all its elements.
A hard thing to define. A short story is brief, growing excitement and lingering recollection and pleasure. Kind of Wordsworthian. A good story should come back on you.
An asterisk in time.
A story is a fully realized world. After passing through this world, the reader sees his own world differently.
A story is a narrative wherein a character absorbs an experience.
A short story is about something unforgettable to the writer for some reason. Otherwise, it shouldn’t be written. It has characters, scenes or settings, and usually tension and conflict. It reveals the subtleties of the event by language, order/structure, and portraits. It is about place and feeling and people.
A short story is a slice of life—the thinner the better.
A short story should provide some kind of continuous dream which the reader can enter, commune with, and leave having felt something.
Imagining a life you could never have imagined yourself, a life that might’ve killed you, or made you immeasurably happy, a life that by its very simple depiction seems ultimately strange, ultimately imagined, yet true.
A short story is a narrative that gives the feeling of being absolutely complete despite its brevity.
Questions? Contact me.
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