Genres of Literature – Short Stories


The definition of a short story is a piece of prose fiction that can be read in one sitting. Short stories originally emerged from traditional oral storytelling in the 17th century. In terms of word count they are usually under 7,500 words, however this word count can vary. Due to the diversity of short story content it is not easy to characterize them, they may differ between genres, countries, eras, and commentators. They feature a small cast of characters and focus on a self-contained incident using plot, resonance, literary techniques or other dynamic components but not in as much depth as a novel.

Short stories are considered, by many, as an apprenticeship form preceding more lengthy works, however they are a crafted form in their own right. Short story writers usually publish their narratives within a collection as part of an artistic or personal expression form.

This concentrated form of narrative can be theorized through traditional elements, such as exposition, complication, crisis, climax and resolution although not all follow this pattern. For instance, modern short stories start in the middle of the action and do not include exposition. Slightly longer works do include climax, crisis or a turning point but many do end abruptly or are left ‘open’ and can or cannot have a moral or practical lesson.

Have you written short stories? Is that how you started writing?

Do you find the short prose form enables you to ‘refresh’ your Muse when immerse in larger works?

I have a steampunk story (7700 words) that I am hoping to find a venue for, whether in an anthology or some other publication. So if you have a lead please share it.

My publisher has a couple of awesome short story authors published. Karen Probert and Barbie-Jo Smith. Karen’s characterizations and attention to detail is incredible and Barbie-Jo has the most humorous tales.


3 thoughts on “Genres of Literature – Short Stories

  1. Thanks Mandy for including me in your blog. I am working on a much longer ‘short’ story but might turn it into just one of several in a book – I’ll decide soon. I like the short story form both to write and to read. Often the story ends before the reader would like it to but that gives the reader a chance to reflect on the possibilities and the characters involved. In a novel everything has to be rounded up/finished off but with a short story the writer can just create a vignette which takes the reader to a place for just a slice of life -I find that exciting.

    Liked by 2 people

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