Five Elements of a Short Story

This is one of the coolest videos I’ve seen in awhile, mostly because it’s so much fun.

I kinda wish there were more things like this out there, because I think using media like this really draws people in and helps them remember.

Anyway, to recap the video, since this is still a blog, the five elements of a short story are as follows:

1. Plot

This is the ABCs of a story. It takes you from the first event to the last in a linear fashion most of the time, though artistic license can allow some skipping around depending on the type of the story you’re writing.

2. Character

These are the people in the story. Some writers underestimate the importance of a fully developed character and end up with flat characters. Since the characters of your story drive your plot, it’s very important to have a solid understanding of their backgrounds and the way they think.

3. Conflict

This is really a sub-element of plot, because conflict creates the tension that keeps people reading. The more a character struggles to reach his end goal, the more a reader gets invested in seeing them through that challenge. With a nod back to character, it’s important that the characters in your story aren’t perfect at overcoming every conflict that heads their way or that they are never able to succeed. It’s important to strike a balance to create the right level of tension.

4. Theme

Theme is what the story is about in the abstract. For example, a story about a boy who gets lost in the woods and is trying to find his way home, the theme could be isolation or survival. Sometimes this doesn’t really develop until after you’ve written the story, but most people have a theme in mind before they start writing. If you can start with a theme in mind, I’ve found it helps the writing go more smoothly because the abstract is harder to pinpoint than the tangible.

5. Setting

This is where the story takes place and is another area where a lot of writers fall short. Even if your story is taking place in the immediate present in a familiar time period and area, it is important that you develop that world for the story itself. If a reader can’t get a firm sense of where the people are physically at in the story, the story can start to feel like it’s all over the place. And that’s not something you want happening in your stories, because it creates confusion and frustration in the reader–and those two emotions creates dissatisfaction.


Anyway, love this video. Figured I’d share it with everyone. 🙂


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