There are many intriguing elements to a short story; each has its place within the written composition. Most techniques can also be used when writing a fiction novel. Below is a list of techniques which will all come in handy when writing your short story! You will need all of them to complete a strong story.
Initial Situation: Circumstance in which the protagonist finds him/herself at the beginning of the story.
Incident: A piece of action occurring at a definite time and place. This may consist of a character’s thought that he/she is experiencing.
Plot: A series of related incidents outlining the protagonist’s conflict. Your story moves forward with increasing interest and tension to a climax.
Trigger Incident: This starts the main conflict of the story and provides an ‘explosion’ to set the plot in motion, changing the initial situation.
Climax: From the Greek word meaning “ladder”. The Climax is the highest rung on the ladder of excitement. It’s the point at which the main conflict is resolved.
Denouement: From the French word meaning “unraveling”. The concluding comment or incident throws additional light on the climax, explaining any details the climax left out. In a story with a strong theme, it may hint at the meaning behind the story.
Theme: The underlying thought or attitude towards life that the story illustrates. It must be a universal statement that applies to all, but not necessarily a moral.
Exposition: Background information necessary for the reader’s understanding of the initial situation and protagonists’ problem(s). The writer begins conflict as soon as possible, and delays some exposition until after securing the reader’s interest.
Flashback: An incident taking place in the memory of a character. It presents an event taking place prior to the story. This introduces background information after the conflict of the story has already begun.
Setting: Consists of time, place, and circumstance of the incident.
Summarizing Passage: Rapidly skimming over events that occur during hours, days, or months that compresses time in a short passage.
Mood: A character’s state of mind and emotions at a given time. This can be given through the actions/attitudes of characters, or with a description of the setting. It is also known as ‘atmosphere’.
Suspense: A feeling of anxious uncertainty instilled in the readers about the outcome of a series of events. This can be pleasurable or painful.
Protagonist: The main character that is accredited the most attention in the story.
Foreshadowing: Hinting future events in the story to the readers.
Irony: Comes in three forms. Verbal: A character says the opposite of what is really meant. Dramatic: What the characters think is different from what the readers know to be true. Situational: What happens is not what the readers believe should have happened.
Pathos: a situation or incident that evokes sadness or pity from the readers.
Allusion: An obvious, familiar reference to either; mythology, history, famous literature, or the bible. The opposite to allusion is anecdote, in which the writer offers a personal story.
Although there are many techniques, each are woven together to form a complete story. Each technique is important and crucial to the creation of your fiction.
I hope these techniques are useful for all your fiction writing needs!
~ Christine Iliadis