The Five Principles of Short Story Plots
By Alan Goodwin
Although the structure and plot of a short story can take many forms, a typical short story will often follow the principles set out below. Following such a pattern can be especially useful for those starting out in short story writing, or for those who are struggling with the demands of telling a story in such a compressed form. Following these principles will help simplify the process of writing a great short story. Introduction - in which the setting, characters and circumstances of the story are succinctly described and brought to the reader's attention. It is the combination of these that will usually set up the problem that causes the conflict of the story. Development - when the characters interact with each other and try to find the solution to the problem and hence to resolve the conflict. This involves the development of both the characters and the means by which they will try to solve their problem Conflict - the central issue of the story. The lifeblood of dramatic writing is the conflict, or the problem, which lies at the heart of the story. The conflict may be between two characters, or between a character and an element of the environment in which the story occurs, or it may be an internal conflict for one of the characters. However, there must always be a unity between the conflict and the way in which the characters try to resolve the problem. A man who has never picked a lock before can not escape a room by picking the lock. Whatever the form of a short story it is hard to imagine one without conflict. Climax - the moment of high emotion when the character or characters succeed or fail in their attempt to solve the problem and thus bring an end to the conflict; it is the point where the conflict is settled. The climax is the dramatic moment of the story and the one that it has been building to throughout. Often it is the moment that accounts for some kind of change in one of the...
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