What's a short story?


According to Edgar V. Roberts and Henry E. Jacob's Literature: "An Introduction to Reading and Writing", a short story is "a compact concentrated work of narrative fiction that also contains description, dialogue, and commentary."

In addition, a short story can be defined as a "short piece of prose fiction having few characters and aiming at unity of effect (The American Heritage Dictionary).

The individual who developed the theory of the short story was American writer Edgar Allan Poe; he referred to them as "brief prose tales." Poe felt that because novels were long, people would spend too much time reading them, and as they read them, their attention would diminish; therefore, he believed that people did not receive the "totality" of comprehension and response that a reading is required to provide. He felt that a concise work of fiction would be better to produce a "powerful, single impression." Poe also believed that the best genre of fiction was a short story because it could be read at one sitting.

Today, short stories are very common and are published by various authors. Usually short stories are published in monthly or weekly periodicals or are collected in single volumes.


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 Last updated on April 20th,1999
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