The Short Story
What is a Short Story?
What is a Short Story?
In your notebook, write your own definition of
what a short story is.
Do not write “A story that is short”! Use what
you know about short stories in the past.
Below your definition, brainstorm about short
stories – any words you have learned connected
to short stories, titles of stories, authors, etc.
The Short Story:
Some Definitions
• The short story gives the illusion of life. It is a
tiny capsule of living, a moment or two in the
lives of other people.
• A short story is a story that is under 40,000
words in length (so, a “short story”).
• A short story is a story that can be read in a
single sitting.
…but there is much more to the genre called “the
short story”!
Noun – A word that refers to people, places or
Common Noun – A noun that refers to a general
person, place, or thing. (e.g. boy, dog, city,
Proper Noun – A noun that refers to a specific
person, place, or thing. Proper nouns are
essentially nouns with names, and are always
capitalized. (e.g. Johnny, Spot, Saint John,
Cue for Treason)
Common and Proper Nouns
Write the following words in your notebook. When
you do, indicate whether each is a Proper Noun
(PN) or Common Noun (CN).
Begin the word with the proper capital or lowercase letter.
hampton high school
cd player
tim horton’s
You have 3 minutes to complete this exercise. I will be
calling people randomly for answers.
theme – The theme of a story represents
what the protagonist (main character)
and/or reader learns about life. It is the
“message” that the author is sending
through the story – the story is the medium
for the message.
Besides being shorter, how is a
short story different from a novel?
“Short stories and novels seem to begin in very
different ways in my mind. With a novel, the main
characters come first; they grow slowly in the
imagination until I feel I know them well… Most
short stories I’ve written seem to be triggered off by
some event, either in my own life or something I’ve
observed. The characters in a short story seem
just as real to me as the characters in a novel, but I
have not seen them, in my mind, in as many
situations – they are visualized more in relation to
one main situation. …
One form is not better than the other.
They simply do not serve the same
function… When I write a novel, I feel
rather like a juggler trying to keep a dozen
themes spinning up there in the air. In my
[short] stories, on the other hand, there
tends to be one central theme.”
Margaret Laurence
Margaret Laurence
Margaret Laurence is a
famous Canadian novelist –
one of the core authors in the
field known as “Canadian
In 1986, after a grim diagnosis
of lung cancer that had spread
throughout her body, Laurence
took her own life in 1987.
Her best-known novels are
The Stone Angel and The
Diviners. Her 1966 novel, A
Jest of God, received the
Governor General’s Award for
genre – a class or category having a
particular form, technique, content, etc.
E.g. poetry, novels, fantasy, science
prose – the ordinary form of spoken or
written language, as distinguished from
poetry or verse
fiction – the class of literature comprising
works of imaginative narration
The Short Story Genre
The Short Story
• The oldest form of literature.
• Prose fiction.
• A distinct genre (like poetry,
novels, plays).
• Every word counts! There is a
strong focus on word choice,
because this is how the author
prunes and polishes the piece
to meet his/her objective(s).
The Short Story Genre
History of the
Short Story
• Ancient Times:
– The Bible – Old Testament 750350 B.C.E.
• Middle Ages (800-1400 A.D.)
– Arabia – One Thousand and
One Nights by Scheherezade
– Spain – Exemplary Tales by
– England – Canterbury Tales by
• …but in the Middle Ages, the
genre had not taken shape as a
recognizable form.
The Short Story Genre
History of the
Short Story
• The modern short story genre
took shape in the 19th century
simultaneously in:
– Germany (Hoffman, Brothers
– Russia (Pushkin, Gogol)
– France (Balzac, DeMaupassant)
– U.S.A. (Washington Irving, Edgar
Allen Poe)
• The short story became a
favorite form of entertainment
for the emerging middle class.
Initial Short Story Assignment
Read the short story assigned to you.
Answer the following questions:
Draw a plot diagram. Label the parts of the diagram, and identify
the parts of the story.
What is the setting of the story? How do you know? Use proof
from the story.
Identify the main conflict of the story. Describe that conflict.
What purposes does this short story serve? Support your answer
with proof from the story.
What is the theme of this story? Explain how the author makes
this clear through plot and character development.
The Short Story as Art
Purpose and Audience
The communication model above demonstrates
the relationship between an artist and the
receiver of the art.
When an artist sets out to create art, she/he
determines three main things:
Purpose: What am I trying to accomplish?
Audience: For whom am I creating this art?
Medium: What art form am I going to use?
In terms of a short story, the model looks more
precisely like this:
Short Story
Short stories are not the spontaneous product of
the natural world; the author deliberately brings
his/her writing talent to bear, in order to bring
something to the reader (the purpose).
PURPOSE: Why Short Stories?
There are principally THREE reasons for
reading/writing short stories:
1. To entertain
The first purpose of a short story is to
enjoy it. Authors want you to enjoy a
short story (and usually to pay money for
Why Short Stories?
1. To entertain
2. To teach
Often, the author has a particular point of view
on an issue that he/she wants to share. The
story is the medium the author uses to convey
the message.
This is the stage of analysis at which
understanding symbol, meaning, and other
literary devices is important.
Why Short Stories?
1. To entertain
2. To teach
3. To raise questions
Often, a specific “message” from the author is
not clear; other times, there is no “message”
from the author per se.
Rather, the author might be simply trying to get
the reader to think about things in a new way,
or to question things that the reader might
have already made up his/her mind about.
Why Short Stories?
1. To entertain.
2. To teach.
3. To raise questions.
It is important to remember that each
short story can have two or all three
purposes at the same time.
“The Conversation of Birds”
Crossroads 10 pp. 41-45.
Complete “Responding to the Story” b., c., d.,
and e. Also, write down the definition of
simile on p. 46, and find 3 examples of
similes in the story.
History of the Short Story
Author Research Project
You will be given an author’s name. Go to the
Find out information about the author using
books in the library. Write notes (Cornell
Come to class tomorrow with your notes. Be
prepared to present your author to the class.
How to Analyze
a Short Story
How to Analyze a Short Story
In the study of English as a discipline, you must
approach texts in a variety of ways.
The only way to truly analyze a work of fiction is to return
to it more than once, with different purposes in mind.
In a tightly-constructed short story, every element – and
often every word – is chosen deliberately.
When you analyze a short story, it is to see the author’s
design. When you can see the author’s work, it raises
the level of enjoyment (from an initial “knee-jerk” reaction
to an intellectual one).
How to Analyze a Short Story
First Reading
Read primarily to enjoy.
Second Reading
Take notes on anything that
seems unusual, particularly vivid,
jarring, or difficult to understand.
Subsequent Readings
Bring your analytical skills to
bear. Look for literary devices,
and think about how they
operate in the story.
How to Analyze a Short Story
Take notes when you read a short story.
“A Conversation of Birds”
Read the short story, “A Conversation of
With a partner, discuss what the aim(s) of
the author might have been for writing the
story. What is the theme or message?
Write a persuasive paragraph arguing your
Elements of a Short Story
Plot, Character, Setting,
Atmosphere, and Style
The Five Elements of
a Short Story
Plot – the arrangement of incidents or
events in a story; “what happens” in the
Plot line – a way of visually demonstrating a
story’s structure by plotting incidents
along a line; plot lines can vary for
different forms of fiction
Plot of a Short Story
Plot of a Short Story
Plot of a Short Story
1. Exposition (or Opening Situation) – The
reader is informed of the setting and is
introduced to the main characters.
2. Inciting Force (or Complication) – A conflict
is usually established between characters.
This conflict “gets things started”.
3. Rising Action – The conflict between
characters develops and becomes more
pronounced. Involves a series of crises
Plot of a Short Story
4. Climax – The moment of greatest suspense; a
point of conflict that will lead to the resolution
of the main plot.
5. Falling Action – The result of the outcome of
the climactic conflict. Can involve a crisis, but
in a short story is usually very short.
6. Denouement (or Resolution, or Final
Outcome) – The writer attempts to have the
reader leave the story satisfied.
The Three Little Pigs
Plot – The Three Little Pigs
Assignment –
Analyze “The Three Little Pigs”
In your notebook, draw a plot line.
Label the plotline with numbers and dots for the crises.
Then, using the numbers as a “key” or guide, explain the
plot of “The Three Little Pigs”.
Also, jot down (in a couple of sentences) what you think
is the author’s intention behind the story. How do you
You may work with a partner on this.
Plot of “The Three Little Pigs”
Exposition (or Opening Situation) – The three
pigs are introduced. Setting is minimal: “Once
upon a time”, with talking/personified pigs. It is
time for the pigs to go out into the world and
seek their fortunes, so they leave home.
Inciting Force (or Complication) – The big bad
wolf discovers the first pig in his house of straw,
and wants to eat him.
Rising Action – The wolf visits the house of straw
and the house of sticks, blows them down and
eats the piggies (these are the crises).
Plot of “The Three Little Pigs”
4. Climax – Failing to blow down the brick house,
the wolf tries a different tactic to get into the
house. The wolf climbs down the chimney and
5. Falling Action – The surviving pig invites his
mother over, and she reinforces the lesson the
pig (and reader) learned.
6. Denouement (or Resolution, or Final
Outcome) – The pig learns his lesson and
lives “happily ever after!”
“The Michelle I Know”
Crossroads 10 pp. 16-23.
Complete “Responding to the Story”
and “Story Craft: Plot” chart p. 23.
Paragraph Example –
The Plot of “The Michelle I Know”
“The Michelle I Know” is a short story about a
girl diagnosed with leukemia who is very unhappy.
The reader learns in the exposition that Michelle is
confined to a hospital ward, and that she has few
visitors except Rob, a boy she likes. Through the
rising action, Brenda, Michelle’s kind nurse, tries to
cheer Michelle up. She takes Michelle to meet a
man who still has a positive outlook, despite also
suffering from cancer for the past 8 years. The
climax occurs when Rob finally shows up, and
Michelle realizes that he likes her for who she is.
There is no falling action or denouement, other than
a kiss they almost share. Michelle is changed by
the end of the story because she is finally happy.
Plot and Conflict
Plot and Conflict
Our lives are full of conflict. Likewise, the
lives of characters are full of conflict.
Think of a story as really a look at a
conflict and its resolution (for better or
There is no story without conflict.
Plot and Conflict
Really, the plot of a story is literally ALL about conflict.
The inciting force and the crises (in the rising action
phase), as well as the climax are all conflicts of some
(Note: There can be minor conflicts in the falling action, but
in a short story these are rare.)
Two Main Types of Conflict
There are two main types of conflict:
• Psychological Conflict
• Physical Conflict
Categories of Conflict
Conflict can be categorized as:
Person vs. Herself/Himself
Person vs. Person
Person vs. Nature
Person vs. Society
Person vs. the Unknown
Person vs. the Supernatural
Person vs. Time
Brainstorm Conflicts
Create a character in your mind. Choose his/her name, gender, age,
and list a couple of details about him/her.
Henry – 23-year-old male construction
worker. Loves to travel, has a dog named Rover, oldest of three
Look at the kinds of conflict.
For each type of conflict, create THREE examples of that kind of conflict
that your character might be involved in.
e.g. Person vs. Nature – on the construction site, Henry uncovers a
prehistoric creature that tries to kill them all
-- Rover is bitten by a rabid mouse and hunts Henry
Person vs. Time – Rover is bitten by a rattler, and Henry must
get him to a vet in time to save his life.
Person vs. the Unknown – Called to a building project in Brazil,
Henry’s co-workers start disappearing into the night… and no
one knows why…
“The Michelle I Know”
Outline a Short Story
Divide your page into three equal parts.
Brainstorm for each part (15-20 mins). In
each space, cover the following questions:
– Who is involved?
– What is happening?
– When is it taking place?
– Where is it taking place?
– Why is it taking place?
– How is it happening? + any other details that
pop into your head.
“The Michelle I Know” –
Outline a Short Story (Pre-writing)
Write an outline for your short story. Write a brief
paragraph (3-4 sentences, unstructured) on each of
the following elements:
Main Character(s) and Personality
Main Problem (to be solved in the climax)
Rising Action + Crises/Conflicts (at least 3)
Changes – Outline what has changed from the beginning
You will have 20-25 minutes for this exercise.
Write a first draft of your story, following your
outline. Do the best you can, but do not
“obsess” over every detail.
Aim for 350-500 words.
Your final version of this story will be
between 500 and 1000 words.
Koch Snowflake
Revising – Adding Details
A simple way to revise a story is to
analyze the author’s use of details so far,
and make suggestions for improvement.
The way to do this is through improving
word choice, and adding sensual details
through adjectives and adverbs.
Revising – Adding Details
Swap stories with a classmate. Let him/her read your story draft, and each of
you must comment on:
What works really well in the story so far.
What works in the story, but needs some improvement.
What doesn’t work so well, and needs some revision.
Wherever you see a NOUN, circle it.
Wherever you see a VERB, circle it.
Get back your story. For every NOUN circled, write at least ONE adjective that
could go with that noun. For every VERB circled, write at least one
ADVERB that could make the image clearer.
Write a second draft of the story, making changes that reflect your peer’s
suggestions. Use MLA format!
Remember: The idea of getting peer help is to IMPROVE your writing, not
simply to criticize it!
Revising – Adding Dialogue
Remember: Short story writing is an ART. That means, every part of the short story should play a part
towards the whole!
When writing dialogue, remember that every time a
character speaks, there should be a REASON for that
Dialogue should:
• Give the reader previously unknown information.
• Make the speaker and situation more realistic for the reader.
• Characterize the speaker and the character(s) spoken to.
Actually, the author’s use of dialogue WILL do these things!
So, the author’s job is to make them work within the story
he/she has written.
Revising – Adding Dialogue
Swap stories with a classmate. Let him/her
read your story draft, and:
• Where dialogue is present, constructively
criticize the diction used, and make suggestions
• Indicate points where you think dialogue would
make the story better, and make suggestions
When you are finished, discuss these things
with your partner. Remember: The goal is to
make the writing BETTER!
Swap your second draft with a classmate.
Peer edit each other’s work. Pay attention
to little details like paragraphing,
punctuation (especially in dialogue!), and
When finished, produce a final draft for
Your final version of this story is due
Wednesday, Nov. 12, in MLA format.
Genre – Science Fiction
Science fiction is a broad genre of fiction that often
involves one or more of the following elements:
• A setting in the future or in an alternate timeline.
• A setting in outer space or involving aliens or unknown
• The discovery or application of new scientific principles
or new technology, such as time travel or robots.
Science fiction differs from fantasy in that its
imaginary elements are usually possible within
established laws of nature (although some
elements might be entirely imaginative).
Ray Bradbury
Ray Douglas Bradbury is
an American fantasy,
horror, science fiction, and
mystery writer best known
for The Martian
Chronicles, a 1950 book
which has been described
both as a short story
collection and a novel,
and his 1953 dystopian
novel Fahrenheit 451.
“A Sound of Thunder”
Answer all questions in complete
1. How is the reader’s interest caught?
2. How does the exposition part of the story set up what is
to follow? (setting, main character[s])
3. What relationship does the material presented in the
introduction bear to the conclusion of the story?
4. Describe as many conflicts as you can in the story. For
each, label it as a “person vs. _____” conflict, and
describe who/what is involved in it. Indicate the
page(s) on which the conflict takes place. Try to
identify what you think is the MAIN CONFLICT.
5. What is the climax of the story? Why do you think that
part is the climax?
6. Bradbury’s stories are often thought to contain
outright lessons for the reader. That is, one of
the goals of this story is to teach, and Bradbury
has a certain point of view of which he wants to
convince his reader.
What do you think is the main lesson of the
story? In a persuasive paragraph, argue what
you think is the message (or messages) being
delivered through the story. Use evidence from
the story to prove what you say.
Two of the goals of this story are to teach and to raise
questions about larger issues in the real world.
For each of the following ideas, brainstorm what
Bradbury might be trying to get the reader to think about.
You have to think on two levels – what does the story
indicate about the issue, and how might that message be
relevant to the “real world” generally:
 Man’s
relationship with the natural world (hunting)
 Scientific progress and its dangers in general (time
travel, technology, etc.)
 Human nature/psychology
 Politics
For this section, the slides you are
to copy appear in BLACK.
The Essay: The Basics
To understand the structure of any essay,
remember this structure:
Say what you are going to say.
Say it.
Say what you said.
The Essay: The Basics
To understand the structure of any essay, remember this
Say what you are going to say.
Say it.
(Body Paragraphs)
Say what you said.
The Essay: The Basics Paragraphs
There are many ways to write paragraphs. For a
general rule, follow this formula:
Topic Sentence
Say what you are going to say.
Body sentences
Say it (or prove it).
Final sentence
Say what you said AND/OR transition to the next
Expository Essay
• You either offer information or explain your
point of view on a topic you already know
something about.
• The five-paragraph essay taught in high
school English classes is of this type.
• There are two basic types of expository
1. one gives information, and
2. the other defends an opinion.
Expository Essay
Basic structure:
Paragraph One - Introduction:
Announces the topic and builds to a thesis statement in
which you state your point of view.
Paragraphs Two to Four (or more) – Body Paragraphs:
Supporting evidence and reasoned discussion.
Final Paragraph – Conclusion:
Restates the thesis more emphatically, and suggests
wider implications. Do NOT simply summarize!
The 5-Paragraph Essay
Body 1
Body 2
Body 3
Structure of the Introduction
General Statement – Talk
about the broader topic in
Linking Statement – Name
the text and author.
Thesis Statement
Body Paragraphs
Make three statements that
support your thesis, and
provide evidence or proof that
supports those statements.
These will be three paragraphs
of roughly-equal length. They
should follow strict paragraph
structure, and the evidence you
use to back up your topic
sentences should be drawn
directly from the text whenever
Structure of the Conclusion
Re-state Thesis
Linking Statement – Name the
text and author.
General Statement – Talk about
the broader topic in general,
AND/OR leave the reader with
something related to think
Notes and Tips
• In general, except for in Personal Experience essays,
avoid the first-person pronoun, “I”, in your essays.
• Any sentence can be re-written to remove the selfconscious “I”, “me”, “mine”.
• It is not necessary to write, “In my opinion,” “I believe”, “I
feel”, etc.
• NEVER write things like, “In the following essay, I shall
try to prove…”, or “In conclusion…”
Thesis Statements
What is a Thesis?
Your thesis is the main point or central idea of your
paper. It is the “backbone” of the paper.
If you ask the question,
“What is the main point of this
your answer should resemble your
essay’s thesis statement.
What is a THESIS?!?
• The core of an informational writing piece
• The central message of the essay; the meaning
in a nutshell
• A clear, concise statement of what an author is
going to say.
• An argument with which others may agree or
A strong thesis…
• gives both the reader and writer a sense of
• gets readers involved in the “conversation”
of the essay – it alerts the reader to look
for details, facts, and quotations that
support the statement the thesis makes.
Where is your thesis statement?
• At the beginning of the essay, in order to
• establish your position, and
• give your reader a sense of direction.
• Usually the last line of paragraph #1.
• In longer essays, may appear in paragraph #2.
Comparison Essay: “A Sound of
Thunder” and A Sound of Thunder
Watch the film A Sound of Thunder.
Take notes on the plot, especially how it varies from the
short story “A Sound of Thunder”.
You might want to set your page up in two columns to
make comparison notes:
Short Story
Clearly, the film was inspired by the movie. But, the film
is very different from the short story.
What messages does the film version carry? How does
it handle the issues raised by Bradbury?
In a formal essay, compare Bradbury’s “A Sound of
Thunder” to the film A Sound of Thunder.
You will want to mention the following:
Consider the purposes of short stories: To entertain, to teach,
and to raise questions.
Explain how the story and the film work to accomplish the three
purposes of short stories.
Look at how the film treats the SAME topics/issues. Compare
(consider things that are the SAME) and contrast (consider
things that are DIFFERENT) the two versions and their
Five-paragraph Comparison Essay
Structure: “A Sound of Thunder”
Introduction: In your thesis, clearly state for the reader what
you are going to prove to them.
Paragraph 2: Compare/contrast the treatment of issue #1.
Paragraph 3: Compare/contrast the treatment of issue #2.
Paragraph 4: Compare/contrast the treatment of issue #3.
Conclusion: Re-state your thesis.
Follow this formula!
The Essay: The Basics Paragraphs
There are many ways to write paragraphs. For a
general rule, follow this formula:
Topic Sentence
Say what you are going to say.
Body sentences
Say it (or prove it).
Final sentence
Say what you said AND/OR transition to the next
Sample Paragraphs
How the Writing Process Works
The writing process is the method by which
you will develop your writing from idea to
published form. It includes five important steps:
pre-writing, drafting, revising, editing, and
publishing. Pre-writing involves brainstorming
and organizing your ideas. Drafting is when you
write your first, rough copy. Revision involves
adding or removing parts with your audience in
mind. Fixing spelling, punctuation, and grammar
mistakes is editing. Finally, publishing involves
giving your work to the intended audience.
Using the steps of the writing process will
improve your writing by taking it from an idea to
The Aims of a Short Story
When an author writes a short story, he/she
has three aims in mind: To entertain, to teach,
and to raise questions. The author wants the
reader to enjoy the story, and the main aim of
short stories is “to entertain”. “To teach” means
the author has a certain message for the reader
to understand, and the story is the medium for
that message. Sometimes, the author does not
have a specific message, but simply wants “to
raise questions” in the reader’s mind about
things that the reader already believes, and so
get the reader to think about things in a new
way. Short story authors might focus on one aim
in particular, but all three aims are often in mind.
• Characters are the “people” of the story.
• Characterization is of two main types:
– Direct characterization occurs when the
author (through narration) explicitly tells the
reader what a particular character is like.
– Indirect characterization is more subtle.
The author gives certain information and lets
the reader draw his/her own conclusions
regarding the character.
Indirect characterization is achieved using
the following methods:
– The character’s name. (E.g. Old Man Warner
in “The Lottery” warns people.)
– The character’s appearance.
– What the character says (or thinks).
– What the character does.
– What others say or think about the character,
including other characters or the narrator.
• To analyze a character, look at the
character’s dialogue, appearance, actions,
environment, character type, and
• Also note if there are ironies or
discrepancies, i.e. does the character say
he believes one thing, but act the opposite
way? Do other characters say things
about him that you do not see as true?
“Two Kinds”
Crossroads 10 pp. 198-209.
Complete “Responding to the Story” p.
“Two Kinds” –
Character Development
Character development occurs when a character
changes throughout the course of a story.
1. What was your initial reaction to the mother?
How did you feel about her by the end of the story?
2. What was your initial reaction to the daughter?
How did you feel about her by the end of the story?
When you write your own stories, keep this in mind!
“Two Kinds” – Vocabulary
conjunction – a part of speech used to
connect and relate words or
sentences. Common conjunctions
are and, but, for, or, so, and yet.
Normally, conjunctions should NOT be
used to start sentences. In “Two Kinds,”
Amy Tan uses conjunctions to begin many
sentences. What is the effect of this?
“Two Kinds” Assignment
-- Thinking Outside the Text
1. What pressures are there on people to be
2. What is “success”?
3. What images does society use to stand for
4. Do you think that success is important? Why?
5. Should everyone want to be “successful”?
Why or why not?
6. Can everyone be successful?
7. What is “character”? How does character
relate to behaviour?
“Two Kinds” – Letter of Apology
Have you ever felt badly about something
you once did, but you never apologized for
doing it? Well, here’s your chance!
Write a letter to that person explaining
what you did and why you have to
Will you send your letter? You decide!
Dear Mr. Crowell,
I hope everything is well with you. It has been a long time
since we last spoke, so you’re probably wondering why I am writing
now. I feel a need to apologize for something I did when I was in
your grade 7 science class.
In the spring of that year, we had to do a big poster project
about something scientific that we researched ourselves. When the
time came to hand them in, I had not finished the assignment. I then
promptly forgot all about it.
A few weeks later, you returned the projects to the class.
Knowing that my mark would suffer because I did not hand it in, I
asked you where my project was, and pretended that I was angry
because I had handed it in and you lost it. I was not a good liar, so I
did not keep up the charade for long, and you were well-organized
and knew the truth.
I want to apologize for that lie now. I know that my accusation
made you look like either an incompetent teacher or a liar in front of
our class. It was unfair of me to basically accuse you of failing to do
your job. For the lie, I truly apologize.
Toby K. Stoddart
“Two Kinds” – Descriptive
Everyone wants to be “successful”, but people
have different ideas about what success is.
How will you know when you have achieved
“success”? What would success look like in
your own life?
Write a descriptive paragraph in which you
describe yourself in 10, 15, 20, or 25 years –
when you are successful, according to your own
definition of success.
Character Sketch
What is a Character Sketch?
A character sketch is a write-up about a
specific character, giving the character’s main
personality traits and physical attributes. It
should include the following:
1. Identifying the Character (1 paragraph)
2. Physical Description (1 paragraph)
3. Personality & Characteristics (1-2
4. Importance of the Character to the Story
(1 paragraph)
1. Identify the Character
This paragraph could be the introduction.
Tell who the character is by naming the
character and what role he/she plays in the
Give the title of the novel/story/play.
Tell whether he/she is a major, secondary, or
minor character.
2. Physical Description
Tell what the character looks like. Use
evidence from the novel – be specific!
Look for the best quotes you can – note
characterization methods!
3. Personality and Characteristics
Explain what the character “is like”.
This could include:
– His/her likes and dislikes
– His/her good and bad qualities
– His/her strong and weak points
– His/her attitude and opinions
– Basically, any personality characteristic that is
shown through characterization.
3. Personality and Characteristics
IMPORTANT: Whatever statements you
make about a character, they MUST be
backed up (proven) by evidence from the
Give examples, quotations, and references
from the story to prove what you say.
4. Importance of the Character to
the Story
Explain the importance of this character
and his/her role in the story.
(You may also consider how he/she added
to the story and speculate on how the
story might have been different had he/she
been different or acted differently.)
Personality Words Exercise
Each class member will be assigned a
Working with a partner, take a few
moments and brainstorm words that
describe peoples’ personalities that begin
with your letters.
You should have at least 5 words for each
letter. You will share them with the class.
Personality Words
Personality Words
Personality Words
Write a Character Sketch –
Choose a character from a story you know
well or a television show that you know
very well.
Brainstorm everything you know about that
Take a few minutes to do this.
Write a Character Sketch –
Write a character sketch of the character
you chose.
Note: If you chose a television or film
character, you must know the show or film
well enough to be able to provide concrete
examples that prove what you say!
What is a Character Trait Essay?
Character sketches can take many forms. The
most common is the Character Trait Essay.
Character Trait Essays can be longer than 5
paragraphs, but are structured the same way:
Introduction, main body, and conclusion. They
try to prove THREE or more main characteristics
about a character.
Types of Characters
Types of Characters
Characters can be described in several
ways. Two main ones are:
“Flat” or “Round”
“Major” or “Minor”
Flat v. Round Characters
• Round (or dynamic) characters
change and grow throughout the course
of a story. The change might be
emotional, spiritual, or intellectual.
Through encountering the conflicts and
crises in the story, they illuminate the
message(s) the author is sending.
• Flat (or static) characters do not
change and grow throughout the story.
Major v. Minor Characters
Major characters are important to the
story. They tend also to be round.
Protagonist – The central character of a
literary work.
Antagonist – The rival or opponent against
whom the main character (protagonist) is
Major v. Minor Characters
Minor characters tend to be flat, but are also
important to a story in that they serve particular
purposes, which may include:
• Giving the author a way to provide background
• Act as a foil (a contrast character) or alter ego (a
comparison character) to a major character
• Foreshadow events
• Advance the plot
• Illuminate theme
• Enhance the setting
• Establish mood
Sometimes, characters are stereotypes –
characters that reflect expectations of
behaviour from particular groups, rather
than a fleshed-out personality.
Stereotypes can serve a purpose in a
story as a minor character, but as major
characters they are usually simply a sign
of weak writing.
“I’ve Got Gloria”
Crossroads 10 pp. 170-176.
“I’ve Got Gloria” –
Character Development
Character development is a change in how a character
in a story thinks or deals with life situations. It is an
awareness that a character develops to become who he
or she is.
1. What is Scott like at the beginning of the story? What
did you think of him at the beginning of the story? How
has he changed at the end? Did your impression of him
2. Choose a story you have read recently (or a film you
have seen) in which you think a character changes or
develops. Outline the events that led to this
development. (Follow a plot diagram!)
Setting – the physical “backdrop” of the story;
where (place) and when (time) the story takes
– When looking at setting, you must try to be as specific as
possible, but describe where the entire story takes place.
For example, “A modern-day city,” “Jerusalem in the
Middle Ages,” and “Anchorage, Alaska c. 1950s” are
settings; “night-time on a street, then in a car, then a
store” is not.
Generally, the author will leave it to the reader to infer the
setting of the story, to some extent. Use clues from the
beginning of the story to figure out the setting.
Setting Exercise
Return to the short stories we have read so far:
– Your children’s book.
– “The Three Little Pigs”
– “On A Sidewalk Bleeding”
– “The Michelle I Know”
– “A Conversation of Birds”
– “A Sound of Thunder”
– “I’ve Got Gloria”
– “It Could Happen to You” (test story)
For each story, describe the setting as completely as you can in as
few words as you can.
Return to the first few paragraphs of the story if you do not
Atmosphere – the overall mood or tone of the story. Atmosphere
is usually established at the beginning of a story.
Any number of things can contribute to the atmosphere, including
(but not limited to):
– Characters
– Clothing
– Furniture
– Natural surroundings
– Light/darkness
– Weather
Atmosphere has a close connection with setting, because the
setting often determines the atmosphere of the story.
“The Cask of Amontillado”
As we read, note how the author
uses the setting to establish mood
and reveal character.
A. Introduction
1. Why is the introduction successful in
capturing the reader’s interest and in
creating suspense?
2. What purposes in the development of the
story are served by the introduction?
B. Setting
1. In what ways does the setting contribute
to the creation of mood or atmosphere?
2. How does the author use setting to
reveal character?
C. Plot
1. Define the central conflict(s) in the story.
2. Where is the climax of the story? Explain why
you think so.
3. What is the denouement? Do you think it is a
satisfying ending? Why or why not?
D. Dialogue
1. To what extent does the author use
dialogue to advance the plot? Give an
2. To what extent does the author use
dialogue to reveal character? Give an
Style –
the ways an author expresses himself/
herself and conveys his/her ideas and
central purpose.
Style is very personal, like a signature – no two writing
styles are identical.
In order to examine a writer’s style, we must consider
the following six areas: diction, sentence structure,
point of view, irony, symbolism, imagery.
Diction – word choice.
Diction is what makes the short story an
art form; words are chosen specifically to
achieve a particular purpose.
There are FOUR main types of diction:
Formal diction
Informal diction
Colloquial diction
Formal diction is usually found in
academic texts, academic papers,
and formal discourse.
Informal diction is “relaxed
conversation”, and is found in writing
that has a lighter tone and is
sometimes humorous.
[insert reading samples of formal diction]
[insert reading samples of informal diction]
Colloquial diction is the everyday language
use of a particular group of people.
For example, we go to the store to buy “a loaf of
bread”, but in Cape Breton they buy “a bun of
Colloquial diction varies by geographic area and
cultural region. For example, think about how
different English is here than in Newfoundland
(where colloquialisms abound).
Style – Colloquial Diction
Can you think of anything that HHS students say
that might not be understood by people from
other places?
What is “jonesin’”? (“Mr. Stoddart is jonesin’!”)
Can you think of other colloquialisms? (This
might be difficult – sometimes it takes someone
from another place to point them out!)
Slang is defined as a newly-coined
word not accepted for formal usage
yet, and is usually not found in the
“Ain’t” and “D’oh” are slang, but have
made their way into the Oxford
English Dictionary.
Style – Sentence Structure
Sentence structure is indicated by whether or
not the sentences are long, short, simple,
compound, complex, etc.
Some authors’ styles are recognizable by their
sentence structure alone.
[See Crossroads 10 Teacher Manual pp.
“The Michelle I Know” – Sentence Variety
Re-read the first few pages of “The Michelle I Know” (Crossroads 10
pp. 16-23), noticing how the author uses sentences of varying
lengths and types. Why would an author do this? What effect is
Check one or two of the pieces that you’ve written this year. Do you
think you’ve used a variety of sentences?
In one of your own works, find an example of each of the following:
– A statement
– A question
– An exclamation
– A very short sentence
– A very long sentence
If you do not have all of these types of sentences, edit some of the
sentences until you do, then write down those examples.
Style – Point of View
Point of view – the vantage point from which the
author presents the action of the story. The
point of view is presented by the narrator.
Every work of fiction has a narrator; the person telling
the story is the narrator, NOT the author!
In some stories, there is little separation between the
narrator and the author, but in others the narrator
brings his/her own biases to the telling of the story.
Style – Point of View
There are two ways to describe point of view:
Third person perspective
First person perspective
Limited narration
Omniscient narration
Style – Point of View
Third person narration
– The person telling
the story is NOT part
of the action.
The reader/viewer sees
the action as if from an
external camera.
They saw the enemy ahead.
Creeping up quietly, John
raised his rifle…
Style – Point of View
First person narration
– This is a major,
minor, or “silent”
character who tells the
(“Silent” means they
play no role in the
action of the story, but
are present in it.)
I saw them there, crouched behind
the boxes, and shouted to my team
to fire at will!
Point of View – Language
You can identify a first- or third-person
perspective based upon the pronouns
used by the narrator.
First person narration – I or we are used.
Third person narration – He, she, or they
are used.
Subject and Object Pronouns
Basic Sentence Structure:
Mary and I went to the park.
Pronouns are words that take the place of nouns in a
There are two types of pronouns: Subject pronouns and
object pronouns.
Basically, subject pronouns are the “do-ers” of the action in
the sentence, and come before the verb.
Object pronouns have the verb “acted upon” them.
Subject pronouns can only go in the subject
position in a sentence; object pronouns can only
go in the object position!
Subject Pronouns
Object Pronouns
You (s.)
You (pl.)
You (s.)
You (pl.)
(+ others, e.g. himself,
herself, etc.)
French-language students usually understand this
best by recognizing the parallels in French.
Subject Pronouns
Object Pronouns
You probably would not say:
“Me went to the park.”
Little children talk this way, because they have not
absorbed language rules yet. When used in public
speaking (for example), it is a mark of a lack of
You would not do this because “me” is an object pronoun –
not to be used in the subject position!
Likewise, then, you should not use the following:
Mary and me are going out tonight.
Me and him are gonna get together after school.
Point of View – Verbs and Tenses
• [insert lesson on verbs]
Read the three short short stories
on shoplifting.
Point of View Short Story
Choose one of the short stories on shoplifting.
Choose a character or object from the story. For example,
you might choose one of the thieves, a store clerk, or an
object that was stolen (e.g. toothpaste tube).
Choose a tense for the story. You can write it as a pasttense story about what happened, or as a present tense “in
the moment” story.
Without changing any of the facts of the story, and following
the same plot as much as possible, re-tell the story from
the first-person point of view of the character/object you
Your draft should be 300-500 words in length (or more).
Style – Point of View
Limited narration – The narrator’s knowledge is
limited to the direct knowledge of the
This is the point of view that is most like “real life”,
and provides an immediacy to the action.
For example, you do not know exactly what is
happening behind each of the walls of the
classroom you are in. Likewise, a limited narrator
would only know what he/she could perceive.
Style – Point of View
Omniscient narration – The narrator knows everything
about the characters and events, and can “enter the
mind” of any character at will.
Omniscient narration is useful for stories with several
characters of equal importance, or for letting the viewer
see the antagonist’s point of view as well as the
Omniscient narration sacrifices immediacy of action.
The omniscient narrator is often confused with the
Style – Point of View
When you describe the narration in a story, you must
describe the various aspects of the point of view.
There are FOUR basic points of view:
»First person omniscient
»First person limited
»Third person omniscient
»Third person limited
Style – Point of View
First Person
Third Person
Point of View – Some Examples
• “The Three Little Pigs” is written from the third person omniscient
perspective. We can see what each of the pigs is doing inside the
houses, and what the wolf does outside as well.
• The Outsiders is written from the first person limited perspective.
We only see what Ponyboy sees, and events are interpreted for us
by Ponyboy. (Cue for Treason is the same, with Peter being the
• The “Harry Potter” series is written mostly in the third person
limited perspective. The only action that we see happen is when
Harry is present; the rest is reported to the reader by other
characters. (Most suspense novels are written from this point of
view, to maintain suspense by keeping the reader guessing.)
Occasionally, the author allows us to see the teachers talking, and
on one or two occasions lets us see the villains scheming
(switching narrative perspectives).
Point of View – Exercise
Complete the following exercise in your
– Choose two novels you have read in the
recent past, or are reading now. Include your
independent reading selection for class!
– For each, identify the narrative point of view
and the verb tense employed. Why do you
think the author deliberately chose these
“The Crystal Stars Have
Just Begun to Shine”
Crossroads 10 pp. 60-66.
Prewriting –
Choose an event that happened to you recently, and
brainstorm on the event. Write down as much as you
can, and include details (who, what, when, where, why,
sights, sounds, smells, tastes, feelings, etc.)
“The Crystal Stars Have
Just Begun to Shine”
Crossroads 10 pp. 60-66.
Read 3. Writing and complete the writing exercise:
Choose an event that happened to you recently, and
describe that event in the first person, then again in the
third person. (About 1 page each.)
Style - Foreshadowing
Foreshadowing – a literary device in which an
author drops subtle hints about plot
developments to come later in the
– An example of foreshadowing might be when a
character displays a gun or knife early in the story.
Merely the appearance of a deadly weapon, even
though it is used for an innocuous purpose — such
as being cleaned or whittling wood — suggests
terrible consequences later on.
(taken from
Style – Symbolism
Symbolism – A literary symbol means
something itself in the story, but
also suggests a wealth of
meaning beyond what it actually
Objects, situations, and actions
can all be symbols.
Style – Imagery
Imagery – There are two types of imagery:
i) Sensuous imagery – Images
that appeal to the five senses:
visual (sight), auditory
(hearing), tactile (touch),
gustatory (taste), and olfactory
ii) Figurative imagery – metaphor,
simile, personification,
apostrophe, etc.
The Lottery
“When I write a novel, I feel rather like a juggler trying
to keep a dozen themes spinning up there in the air. In
my [short] stories, on the other hand, there tends to be
one central theme.”
Margaret Laurence
Theme – The theme of a story represents what the
protagonist (main character) and/or reader learns
about life. It is the “message” that the author is
sending through the story – the story is the medium
for the message.
Short Story
Also recall the three purposes of a short story: To
entertain, to teach, and to raise questions.
“The Crystal Stars Have Just Begun to Shine”
– Analyze Theme
The subject of this story is how a daughter tries to
make her father happy by finding him a partner.
The theme is what the main character and/or the
reader discovers about life or people by the end
of the story.
In your notebook, write what you think is the theme
of the short story. We will be sharing these as a
“The Crystal Stars Have
Just Begun to Shine”
Crossroads 10 pp. 60-66.
Complete “Responding to the
Story” a., c., d., and e.
“The Crystal Stars Have Just Begun to Shine”
– Analyze Theme Group Assignment
Get into groups of 4-5.
In your group, discuss what you think is the theme of “The
Crystal Stars Have Just Begun to Shine”. Try to agree
on ONE central theme. (If you can’t agree, that is okay.)
You have five minutes for this.
On the blackboard, write the name of your team and the
central theme of the story. If you could not agree, write
all options.
We will discuss these as a class.
Book Reviews
Book reviews aim to help an undecided
reader to select a book by seeing the
book’s merits and faults.
Read the following book reviews. As you
do, note how the reviews are organized,
and what different elements they have.
[insert book review]
Write Book Reviews
Using your knowledge of book reviews,
– A review of “The Crystal Stars Have Just
Begun to Shine”
– A review of a novel you read last year for
English class.
These two reviews are due two days from
now. Each should be about 200-250
words, and should be in MLA format.
Irony – 1) a literary device in which there is a
gap between what a speaker or writer
says and what is understood.
2) incongruity between what is expected
and what actually occurs
Dramatic irony – the audience knows more
about a character's situation than the
character does, foreseeing an outcome
contrary to the character's
expectations, and thus ascribing a
sharply different sense to some of the
character's own statements
“An Insignificant Crime”
1. Re-read the story briefly.
a) Do you think the story is more
entertaining when you read it the first
time, or is it more entertaining when you
read it for the second time, knowing about
the irony at the end? Why do you think
b) Explain the irony in the title.
c) Explain the relationship between historical
context and extracting meaning from this
story, in your own words.
d) What is (are) the main purpose(s) of this
story? Explain each in some detail.
“Crime Doesn’t Pay”
“Crime Doesn’t Pay”
1. How is the reader’s interest caught?
2. How does the exposition part of the story set up
what is to follow? (setting, character, main
3. What relationship does the material presented in
the introduction bear to the conclusion of the
4. Define the main conflict in the story. Be as specific
as possible!
5. What is the climax of the story? Why do you think
that part is the climax?
6. One of the goals of this story is to teach. What
lesson(s) is (are) taught through the irony in this
7. What is ironic about this story? Explain the
irony in detail.
8. Re-read the story briefly.
a) How does the irony make a re-reading of the
story more meaningful?
b) What do you understand better about the story
once you know about the irony? Be specific.
c) Do you think the story is more entertaining when
you read it the first time, or is it more entertaining
when you read it for the second time, knowing
about the irony at the end? Why do you think so?
Pass-back Narrative
Take out a piece of looseleaf and a
Get into groups of 5-6 people. Move your
desks so they are facing each other (i.e. in
a circle).
You will be writing stories as a group. Each of
you will have a completed story at the end of this
As the first writer, you have the responsibility
of creating the exposition and inciting force.
Your story begins with this line:
George/Sarah stepped outside into the
darkness of …(you finish the line)
Write this line on the top line of your page now.
Every few minutes, we will pass the stories
to the person on the RIGHT. When you
receive a new story, you will read it, and
work with the first person’s idea for the
next phase of the story.
Stories will follow short story structure.
Each number represents a person:
Plot of a Short Story

The Short Story