Literature has varieties and short story is one of the types of literature. In broader sense of the term, it is a story which is short. It is a form or a genre having its own. According to H. E. Bates, short story can be anything that the author describes it to be.
Short story is a fictional work with a thematic focus which depicts the character's conflicts. Normally, the shortest stories may be no more than a page or two in length. But there are longest ones also such as D. H. Lawrence's St Mawr which runs to over several pages. In this article you will learn some of the basic elements of this form.
The elements normally comprise of setting with time and place, conflict, subject, themes, and characters. Let's see how these elements work in a story.
1. Settings with Time and Place
You will see that most stories are set in present day. But the settings of the place normally vary from exotic to mundane and urban to rural.
The readers follow the main character or protagonist who's in a conflict with another character. The conflict can also be internal with some hostile spiritual or psychological force.
The subject of a story is often mistaken for its theme. The common subjects for modern short fiction normally include class, ethnic status, race, gender, and social issues just like poverty, violence, divorce, and drugs.
The diverse subjects facilitate the writer to comment upon the larger theme which is the center of the fictional work. The individual in conflict with society's institutions, spiritual struggles, and morality may be included in the theme.
Alienation, human isolation, the conflict of generations, anxiety, love and hate relationship; male-female relationships; self-delusion and self-discovery; beginning from innocence to experience; illusion and reality; the relationship between life and art are some of the main themes of 20th-century short stories and the longer forms of fiction.
In a short story, you may find a range of characters. There are stereotypes which are familiar such as the lonely housewife, the aggressive businessman. There may also be archetypal characters just as the rebel, the alter ego, the scapegoat, and some who are engaged in some kind of search.
You will love a short story or a fiction which is structured well with all these elements. A good story is one which succeeds in producing one single effect vivid effect by seizing the attention at the outer and gathering sustaining it till the climax is reached.