Art Directory India

Short Stories their Origin & Components


A fictional prose narrative is what we can say about a short story. It usually has a single incident, a single plot & deals with only a few characters. Edgar Allan Poe a short story as the one that can be read in one sitting of half an hour or two hours. It differs from an anecdote in its use of plot. A short story is focused on a single plot expressed with a few significant scenes or episodes unlike a novel the has a plot that revolves around multiple characters also has subplots. It gives us a realistic portrayal of characters & excludes any aspects of a complex plot, encouraging a setting the supports concise narrative.
Origin & History
The Oral Tradition
The history of a short story can be traced back to oral story-telling tradition, which we loved when our grandma used to tell a story to us. The art of storytelling perhaps rose out of human curiosity. Early human beings narrated tales of hunting or story gods & demons to one another. To aid himself in constructing or memorizing tales, the early storyteller often relied on colloquial phrases, fixed rhythm & rhyme. The very reason why the oldest narrative mostly verses. Tales, fables, anecdotes, parables, etc., were thus transmitted by word of mouth from one generation to another generation to the next.
Some of the earliest examples of such narratives are: the Egyptian tales – The Shipwrecked Sailor & The Two Brothers; the famous Babylonian tale, the Epic of Gilgamesh (also considered as one of the earliest surviving epic poems) & the earliest narratives from India, like The Jataka Tales (a collection of stories of Buddha’s earlier births) & Panchatantra Tales (a collection of tales about animals with moral in the end). These, along with the Aesop’s Fables, stories in the Bible & the tales from the Arabian Nights, are considered as the primogenitor of the short story.
Beginning of Written Form
During the beginning of the 2nd, 3rd & 4th centuries BC, the Hebrews first wrote down some of their narratives which are now a part of the Old Testament. Nearly all the ancient tales are didactic & present an idea for the readers to imitate. Exemplum, a widely respected ancient writing form; straitlaced tale usually intended to dramatize or otherwise instigate model behavior.
In Europe, the storytelling tradition began to develop into written stories in the 14th century, most notably with Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales & Giovanni Boccaccio’s Decameron. Both books composed of the short stories having humorous anecdotes to well-crafted literary fiction. Short stories were very popular in the middle ages.
Components of A Story
The short story is a work of fiction that is usually written in narrative prose. It is often pointed than longer works of fiction, such as novels or epics. Short story writers use a combination of creative imagination, personal expression & language skills to create a story. Some of the essential elements of a short story are given below:
Point of View
Every story has a plot. It is the series of incidents, interrelated to each other to make up a story. Thus, a plot is a logical progression of events: having a beginning, an intermediate & an end. A short story usually has one plot so that it can be read in one sitting. The five vital elements of the plot are:
Introduction: It gives a beginning of the story, where the character is introduced & settings are revealed, also termed as exposition.
Rising Action: The events between introduction & climax; conflicts are revealed in this part of the story.
Climax: It marks the peak of interest & the turning point of the story. Both the casual events & the climax can be physical, mental or emotional. The climax makes the readers anticipate how the events turn out to be- whether the conflict will resolve or not?
Falling Action: It refers to events between climax & denouement. Here the story begins to resolve & complications are slowly progressing towards solutions.
Denouement: This is the part where the story untangles.
An essential component of the plot, the force acting opposite to the binding incidents to one another; it doesn’t necessarily have to be an open argument but occurs in the form of opposition that the main character must face in the story. Within a short story, there may be only one central conflict, or there may be one central conflict with many minor ones.
Based on Origin:
o External: The physical struggle, it represents a circumstantial conflict
o Internal: Psychological, emotional or mental struggle where the character must make a decision, resist temptations, feel pain, etc.
Based on its Working Aspects:
o Man vs. Man.
o Man vs. Circumstances.
o Man vs. Society.
o Man vs. Himself
The title of a story is mostly the name of the protagonist or any phrase the has a special metaphorical meaning within the story. A title may sometimes come from the existing work or a memorable line itself, can relate to the author’s style & humor.
Every author has his/her unique style. The regular beginning that sets the tone of the story. Descriptive & narrative details are mingled with dialogues & they make the story lively with literary expressions. The prose used in narration is the language of as well as of feelings.
Characters are an essential ingredient of a story. There are two meanings of the word character:
1. A person in a story
2. Traits of a person or characteristics of the person
A short story has a relatively limited scope, and its characters are seldom fully developed. However, a good short story often provides a ‘whole’ or satisfying treatment of its characters. In a short story, one character is central to the story with all the major events having importance to this character, referred to as the protagonist. The characters who oppose the main character are called antagonist.
Characters must seem real to the readers, so they can relate to it. The characterization is the information that the author gives to the readers about character themselves. The author portrays a character in the following ways:
● Physical Appearance;
● Feelings, how a character is feeling during a certain scene;
● Actions, half of Sherlock Holmes work is based on what the victim does/does;
● What others say about him
In real life there are no absolute characters, everyone is bad in some else’s story. In a good story character are must be lifelike, with complex virtues & vices. It should seem as if the fictional character is someone we could come across in real life.
Characters are classified in two categories by E.M. Forster “Round” & “Flat”, individuals with a growing personality with complex emotions these evolve as the story progresses & individuals with a stereotypical personality with static behavior, they don’t arouse much interest in reads, respectively.
The theme in a story refers to its central insight. It is the authors underlying meaning of the main idea that is conveyed in the story. They can be authors thought about something or a general point of view or sometimes human nature. Loyalty, fate, love, greed, ambition, sacrifice, jealousy are some common themes in a short story. The authors use various figures of speech like allusion, irony, pathos, allegory & symbolism.
A story must have a setting. The setting is the atmosphere, background, geographic location, era in which the story takes place. Conditions of time & place give a touch of realism to the story. It also decides the mood of the story and what are the social conditions of the time. The setting also plays an important role in interpreting the symbolic references correctly in any story.
Point of View
The perspective of the story is defined this way.
● First-person
● Second- person
● Third-person
Hope we know all the keynotes necessary to write a brilliant short story.
Happy Writing!! y’all.

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