The UVic Writer's Guide
The short story, or tale, has many of the same characteristics
as the novel. Generally, all details of a short story are arranged to achieve
a single effect. The action moves rapidly, with minimal complication
or detail of setting, and the significant characteristics of the
protagonist's life are revealed economically through a central
Short stories range from the short short story (as few as five
hundred words in length) to the novelette or novella (a more complex
story but still lacking the breadth of a novel). An example of
the latter type is Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness" (1902).
In between these two types is the short story proper, which Edgar
Allan Poe (one of its originators) described as "the prose tale."
The fable and folk tale are precursors of the short story form.
Literary Terms (By Category)
Literary Terms (Alphabetized)
Table of Contents
Copyright, The Department of English, University of Victoria,
This page updated May 13, 1995