MASTER LECTURE 1/5
What Makes A Short Story A Short Story?
Dr. Rica Bolipata-Santos
June 30, 2014
Structure of Lecture
"Defining is never a complete process."
- Mac dictionary: a story with a fully developed theme but significantly shorter and less elaborate than a novel - Merriam-Webster: an invented prose narrative shorter than a novel usually dealing with a few characters and aiming at unity of effect and often concentrating on the creation of mood rather than plot (1887; Synonyms: yarn, tale, folktale, fable, etc) - Reader's Companion to Literature:
- a prose narrative of limited length.
- As old as any other literary form
- It requires more than the mere reporting of a series of events. - It must have characterization, unity, cumulative interest, climax, resolution - Definition from a fiction writer:
When well told, a story captured the subtle movement of change. If a novel was a map of the country, a story was the bright silver pin that marked the crossroads." - Ann Patchett
1887 - MW
"A short story must have a single mood and every sentence must build towards it." - Edgar Allan Poe
- more concentrated approach to theme compared to novels
- the necessary ingredient of the short story
- catching characters
- makes you aware of the different opposing forces
crossroad = change
chaos = order
dissolution = resolution
man vs. a force outside of himself
man vs. a fellow human being (enemy/ies)
man vs. himself - internal conflict
The story is as rich as its conflict
by Wang Renshu
He'd gotten this bit of folklore by word of mouth, and he'd made up his mind to do it.
He'd begged a basket of fugu blowfish from somewhere and was quietly taking them into his home.
In three years of famine, the grain he'd brought in had just covered the rent. The five people in the family depended on his one pair of hands for support, and he'd carried them from last winter through the moonlight nights of February and March of this year. It had really been tough. And now there was nothing they could do but starve!
But – how could they stand the suffering?
When the family saw the basket he'd brought with him, they were as delighted as if they'd received a gift from the angels.
The kids danced up to him.
"Daddy, Daddy! What is it? Let's eat it!"
Such a scene, the heartbreak made tears fall from his eyes!
"Eat!" He answered in a whisper. It was infinitely frightening! He felt fear for the lives of his children, as well as a raging tide pressing down on his heart, leaving him unable to breathe.
He told his wife to cook the blowfish for them to eat, and made an excuse for himself to go out for a bit. It wasn't that he was unwilling to die, unwilling to eat the blowfish. He just couldn't stand seeing the horror of his family dying, and he went out for a bit to avoid it.
The afternoon passed by, but he still hadn't come back. The kids had been hanging around their mother, wanting to eat the fish. But his wife really loved and respected him – she'd been with him through good times and bad – so she didn't want to give the kids even a tiny bit to taste before him.
As the sun was sliding into the west, the blowfish was still cooking on the stove. He came home. It was like his feet were treading through a fog. He imagined his family's dead bodies lying on top of one another, weakening his will to go in.
But he'd come prepared for this and was determined to get on with it, so he mustered up his courage. The first thing he saw was his children at the doorway, their bright eyes shining, and he heard a torrent of noise welcoming him home.
"How come they're not dead yet?" He thought.
"Dad! We waited for you so we could eat together!"
"Oh!" He understood then.
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