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Short Stories

Structure of a Short Story

Exposition: The introduction. The setting is established and the main characters are introduced. The author is EXPOSing (exposition) you to the basic elements of the plot.

Inciting Incident (complication): a single event signifies the beginning of the main conflict.

Rising action: The pieces come together that will lead to the climax of the story. The story builds and becomes more exciting.

Climax: moment of greatest tension in the story. Rising action leads to this event and the falling action will immediately follow.

Falling action: events happen as a result of the climax and we know the story will end soon.

Resolution: character solves main problem/conflict or someone solves it for him or  her.

Denouement: any remaining secrets, questions, or mysteries which remain after the resolution are solved by characters or explained by the author. It is possible not to have a denouement if there is a surprise ending.
**Definitions courtesy of Ohio University**

"Poison" by Roald Dahl

"The Cask of Amontillado" by Edgar Allan Poe

Helpful Terms
  • Irony: the opposite of what you expect.
  • Verbal irony: when a speaker means the opposite of what he actually says
  • Dramatic irony: when the reader knows something that a character does not know
Setting: Italy during the annual Carnival celebration. Each year, Carnival is celebrated around the world. It takes place in February or March, before Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent. Participants wear masks and costumes and celebrate until the start of Lent when they then do penance for their sins.

"An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" by Ambrose Bierce