How do I formulate an idea from a short story?

Expert Answers
Kristen Lentz eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One way to construct a meaningful idea from a story is to make a theme chart.  A theme is the central idea in the story; themes are abstract, but the author brings the readers' attention to them through his or her representation of persons or action in the text. 

I use this strategy in class when my students are reading something where the main idea or theme in the story may not be obvious. 

First, take as sheet of notebook paper and divide it into three columns.  Label the columns: Plot, Subjects, Themes.

Step 1:  In the first column 'Plot', summarize the plot or the events of the text into bullet points.  Allow yourself between 5-8 bullet points and only include those events that seem to be the most significant.

Step 2: In the second column labeled 'Subjects,' list subjects of the text as words or phrases (phrases are better!)  Think about big abstract concepts in the text or suggested by it. Try to come up with at least four.

Step 3: Now, in the last column you are going to look at all of the subjects and try to combine them when appropriate.  What is the author trying to convey or assert about each subject?  Write a complete sentence for each subject.

Now, when you have finished the last column, you should have written four meaningful statements about the author's ideas in the story.  This is a great strategy for developing higher level insights about a difficult text.