Diagnostic Essay - What Is a Short Story

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Category: English Composition

Date Submitted: 07/10/2012 04:29 PM

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A short story is often a narrow view into a much larger period of a person’s life. The main objective of a short story is to instantly capture the reader’s interest by using memorable characters, drama or conflict, and the blunt nature of reality. Reality, drama, and memorable characters are essential to a short story’s success as short stories are often a quick look at a person’s life before, during and after a life changing moment.

Although short stories often focus on one character, memorable characters, regardless of how many add depth to any story. Everything that is learned in a short story helps the reader to understand the relationship between each character, even if the focus of the story is on one character. For example it is the opinions some characters have about other characters, or their expressions that are described that tell the reader the most about the main character, “I was introduced to all of them and they were all very polite to me. Yet, it was clear that, for them, I was only Sonny’s brother. Here, I was in Sonny’s world. Or, rather: his kingdom. Here, it was not even a question that his veins bore royal blood” (Baldwin 57). The way Sonny’s brother describes his experience at the night club and how people interacted with Sonny speaks to Sonny’s character, how he was an appreciated and talented musician.

Drama or conflict is necessary to capture the reader’s interest by making them wonder what will happen next. Without drama or conflict a story’s plot would be vague and uninteresting. In addition, due to the limited length of a short story a major conflict is often the heart of a short story. Whether the story leads up to a abrupt change of events or begins with a conflict or life changing event, the drama or conflict is necessary. Without such events there would be no focus in which to build the short story around, such as Sonny’s brother being thrown in jail for using and selling heroin at the beginning of the short story “Sonny’s...