How can honesty save you from too much suffering? Read the following classic short story carefully and identify the precious elements that make up the story.
By Guy de Maupassant
Answer the following questions.
- Who are the characters in the story?
- What was the problem?
- How was it solved?
- How did it end?
Your answers to the questions constitute the magical world of fiction. In fact, the piece that you have just read is an example of a short story. This story is made up of different elements. Read on so you can familiarize yourself with these elements.
- Character – are the people who or animals that make things happen in fiction.
- Flat character – a character drawn with only surface facts and details
- Rounded character – a fully developed character as opposed to a flat character.
- Setting – presents the time, place, weather, and season. It helps create mood or the general feeling of the story.
- time and place
- sociological, cultural, political, religious
- sensibilities that lead to specific modes
- Plot is the sequence of interrelated actions or events that make up a story. Specifically, the plot contains the:
- Exposition — the start of the story or the introduction of the problem/conflict.
Man vs. Man
Struggles of the character against another character, a group, or society’s rules
Mark and Billy are competing for the same lady.
Man vs. Nature
Struggles of the character against a force of nature
The man is protecting his house and family from a super typhoon.
Man vs. Himself
Struggle of the character with personal feelings, values, or needs
Angelo did not study for the test so he wanted to cheat.
- Rising Action – the tension or uncertainty developing out of the conflict increases
- Climax – the point of highest emotional intensity
- Falling Action – the action which follows the climax
- Resolution (or Denouement) – the solving of the problem
Now that you already have your characters and setting, think of a struggle that your character has against someone or something. Decide how the conflict will be resolved. Look at the example below.
Mathilde was invited to attend an important affair, but she had nothing to wear.
Mathilde lost the diamond necklace she borrowed from Madame Forestier.
Mathilde and her husband worked hard to replace the diamond necklace.
Mathilde and Madame Forestier met after ten years. Mathilde found out that the diamond necklace she replaced was fake.
- Point of View – the eyes and mind through which the reader views the unfolding of events
- First person – can make the story personal; it can build a strong response to a character, but the reader can only tell what the char-acter sees, hears, knows, and believes
- Third person (limited) – focuses on one character’s perspective. In fact, the narrator can enter the character’s mind.
- Third person (omniscient) – most flexible outside narration. It gives a wider view of the story.
- Theme is the central idea or meaning of a story
- Dramatic Premise
Tone is the attitude of the author toward the writing and the readers. It is achieved through word choice, sentence construction, and word order. A writer’s tone can be serious, satirical, sarcastic, solemn, etc.
Mood is the general atmosphere created by the author’s words. It is the feeling that the readers get from reading the work.
joyful, gloomy, frightening, mysterious, etc.
Foreshadowing is a literary device through which the writer gives a hint of a coming event in the story. It creates an atmosphere of suspense for the reader to want to know more.
“She suffered endlessly, feeling herself born for every delicacy and luxury. She suffered from the poorness of her house, from its mean walls, worn chairs, and ugly curtains. All these things, of which other women of her class would not even have been aware, tormented and insulted her.”
Symbolism is the art of representing things by using symbols or by at-tributing symbolic meanings or significance to objects, events, or relationships.
sword – justice, dove – peace, rose – love, etc.
Motif is any recurring element (word, phrase, action) that has symbolic significance in the story.
colors, death, gluttony, alcohol, drugs, etc.