What is a Short Story?
There are many ways to write a short story. Just check out a copy of “The Best American Short Stories.” After reading a few short stories, you will learn the authors use different elements of fiction and literary devices to tell their stories. Furthermore, you will learn that authors write about many different subjects, such as adultery, sex, old age, divorce. And yet all short stories have certain characteristics. These include the following:
- A short story is a fictional work of prose.
- The story, itself, is a narrative.
- The short story can be read in a single-sitting.
- It is shorter than a novel or novella.
- Most contemporary short stories are between 1,000 and 20, 000 words.
- The protagonist in the story is confronted with a conflict, such as an event or experience. This conflict results in some personal change or transformation.
- The story implicitly or explicitly suggests something meaningful or important about the human psyche, the human condition, or society.
Where to Read Short Stories
You can learn to write short stories by reading lots of them and by analyzing how the writer crafted the narrative. Here are a few places you can read good short stories:
- Best American Short Stories publishes a collection of best american short stories each year. (www.bestamericanshortstories.com)
- The New Yorker publishes a short story each week. (www.newyorker.com )
- The Walrus publishes a short story each month. (www.walrusmagazine.com )
- The Atlantic (www.theatlantic.com )
- Harper’s Magazine (www.harpers.org )
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