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The Short Story

Short Story vs Novel

 Meant to be read in one sitting
 Tend to be less complex
 Usually focus on one incident
 Fewer characters
 Tend to follow similar pattern
The Pattern
The Pattern
 Where does this come from?

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Aristotle’s Poetics
The Pattern
 Plot is “the first principle”
 Consists of
 Exposition
 Incentive moment or “inciting incident”
 Rising action
 Crisis
 Climax
 Denouement
The Pattern
 Exposition: does not further plot but is essential
information for reader
 Inciting incident: starts cause and effect chain
 Rising action: continues cause and effect chain
 Climax: elements of story should have inevitably
led here.
 Resolution and denouement: caused by
preceding events, but don’t lead to outside
The Pattern
 Must be “unified”
 No deus ex machina
 Aristotle didn’t like episodic plots
Some more Greek terms
 A complex plot is better because they have:
 Peripeteia: reversal of fortune
 Anagnorisis: turn upon surprise--change from
ignorance or knowledge.
 This leads to
 Catastrophe
 Catharsis
The other “principles”
 Character
 Diction
 Theme
 Melody
 Spectacle
 Person vs person
 Person vs society
 Person vs self
 Person vs nature
 Person vs fate (God)
 Protagonist vs hero
 Dynamic
 Static
 Flat
 Round
 Foil
 Statement
 General but not too general
 Should account for all major details
 Avoid sweeping generalizations.
 No clichés
 Helpful to mention topic title and author in a
theme statement