Guide to Literary Terms

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What is a short story?

A short story is a brief prose narrative containing a limited set of characters and events.

Short story

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Last Updated May 26, 2023.

A short story is a concise narrative focusing on a single theme, incident, or character, typically ranging from a few pages to around 20-30 pages. It follows a condensed plot structure with a clear beginning, middle, and end, swiftly progressing events. The brevity of a short story necessitates efficient use of language and limited character development, aiming to evoke emotions and convey meaning in a concentrated and impactful manner.


Short is derived from the Old Norse word skortr, meaning "lack, scarcity." Story is derived from the Latin word historia, meaning "history, narrative."


Flannery O'Connor authorizes numerous short stories, including "Everything That Rises Must Converge," "A Good Man is Hard to Find," and "Good Country People." 


These short stories showcase O'Connor's distinctive style, often including dark humor, grotesque elements, and exploration of complex moral and religious themes.


see: fiction

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