Requirements For a Short Story

A short story is a work of fiction of between 2,000 and 10,000 words. Famous creators of short stories include Edgar Allan Poe, Franz Kafka and Ernest Hemingway. Although there isn't one way to create a short story, all short stories must contain certain elements, such as characters, plot and conflict.


Characters are people in the story. The protagonist is the character directly affected by events. The antagonist opposes the protagonist's actions in the story. Characters are either dynamic or static. Dynamic characters make some sort of change at the end of the story. Static characters are unchanging, minor characters who help drive the story forward. The story's author helps the reader imagine the characters by revealing details about them, such as their appearance, thoughts and actions.


The setting is the location and time in which the story unfolds. A story's setting can have a major influence on both the plot and the development of the central character. The setting can be consist of several elements, including time, geographical location, historical period, mood, social conditions and weather conditions.

Point of View

Point of view describes the narrator's perspective on the story. A first-person narrator is a character in the story and describes the action with the pronouns "I" and "we." A limited omniscient narrator tells the story in the third person, using pronouns such as "they," "he" and "she." The reader knows what the characters knows and the narrator may occasionally reveal their thoughts and feelings. The objective omniscient narrator reports the characters' words and actions without interpretation or comment. The reader figures out the story's meaning without the author's input.


The theme is a story's underlying meaning or main idea. The theme is an observation about an aspect of human nature or a topic the author finds interesting. Authors often emphasize the theme with figurative language, including metaphors, allusions, similes, hyperbole and irony. Some examples of common themes include fear of change, believing in yourself, love is blind and don't judge a book by its cover.


The plot is the series of events in the story and is divided into five main parts. During the introduction, the reader is shown the story's main characters and the setting. During the rising action, the author introduces the conflict and plot complications. During the climax, the tension levels in the story are at their highest and the reader wonders if the conflict will be resolved. During the falling action, the conflict and other complications are resolved. The denouement is the final resolution of the story.


Without conflict, a story wouldn't have a plot. An external conflict depicts a struggle between the character and outside forces while an internal conflict is struggle between a character and inner forces. In a psychological conflict, the character struggles with his or her own mental or emotional problems. In a physical conflict, the character struggles against other people or forces of nature. In a social conflict, the character struggles against other people's customs and ideas. In a classical conflict, the character struggles against life's circumstances or fate.

About the Author

Frank B. Chavez III has been a professional writer since 2006. His articles have appeared on numerous websites including WitchVox and Spectrum Nexus as well as in the e-magazine Gods and Empires. He has his associate degree with an emphasis in theater arts from Chabot College, where he received the theater department's Joeray Madrid Award for Excellence in Dramaturgy.

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