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Background - Short Story Short story has its roots in the oral tradition. A good example of this oral tradition that has arrived in our century is “The Odyssey” and “The Iliad”. Both The Odyssey and The Iliad was sung by different poets, and orally passed from one generation to another. There are several genres that come from the oral tradition and share similar characteristics such as plot, conflict, climax, setting, characters, narrator, etc. Nevertheless, short story is defined as: “a prose tale of no specific length, but too short to be published as a volume on its own… A short story will normally concentrate on a single event with only one or two characters, more economically than a novel’s sustained exploration of social background…” (Abrams & Harpham, 2012, p.103). According to Edgar Allan Poe, this no specific length is the possibility of reading a text in “one-sitting” which should take no more than two hours since it starts close to or on the verge of the climax, this feature minimizes both prior exposition and the details of the setting. Moreover, a short story usually causes “a sense of the fullest satisfaction” and “a certain unique or single effect”. This genre gained popularity in America in the nineteenth century due to the development of magazines and periodical journals, and the emerging of a middle-class. Nowadays, short story has a broad audience from elementary scholars to adults due to the several published material of this genre for all ages. Its purpose still regards to the same one since its first appearance: entertainment, criticism and reflection of our society.

Annotated Bibliography - Short Story


This is a beautiful story about a lost dog that found an owner by chance. The owner, a boy, brought the dog to his home, and together they lived exciting adventures until a dark night when his drunk father came home. The boy hid from his father under the table, but the dog believing that the father was just playing jumped in front of him with playful eyes. At this moment, the worst happens and the story reaches its climax and ending. This emotive and tragic short story about friendship between this lovely and protective dog and his owner makes us reflect on how unthinkable actions may result in sad moments in our life. This short story is excellent to teach students the importance of an ending that can cause in the reader a unique reaction.


The Lottery is a typical short story with a surprising and shocking ending. This story talks about the annual ritual “The Lottery” that happened in a village. The purpose of this ritual is to guarantee a good harvest. While the lottery was happening, the villages talked about whether or not the ritual should be kept, since there are several neighboring villages that had already abolished it. At the end, the reader is indignant in noticing that the tradition won over sympathy. The reader’s first reaction is probably indignation, followed by a reflection on the author’s intention. Shirley Jackson may just desire to call our attention to cruelty and violence that society reproduces without thinking. This is an excellent short story to be read by students because it provides important features of a short story such as a detailed setting and a disturbing ending that causes a single effect in the reader.


Amontilado.jpgThis is a great story surrounded by suspense. The story begins on the verge of its climax with its narrator, Montessor, telling the reader an event of his life that happened fifty years ago. The story takes place in a village in Italy during the carnival. Montessor wants to kill his Fortunato who caused several injuries to him. Although the narrator tells us how he killed his friend, he never revealed his real motivation to commit the crime. Not telling his motivation, the narrator captures the reader’s curiosity who believes that the motivation can be revealed any moment, but, of course, that does not happen. The reader has to image what could be Montessor’s motivation to kill Fortunato. Edgar Allan Poe is a great writer, but his texts may be complicated for students to understand. Nevertheless, teaching this genre can be a good opportunity to present to students one of the greatest American writers.

Instructional Activities - Short Story
The Story Hill Graphic is a good way to represent the development of a short story.
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Resources - Short Story
Plot Structure: A Literary Elements Mini-Lessonhttp://www.readwritethink.org/classroom-resources/lesson-plans/plot-structure-literary-elements-904.html
Viedo - Five Elements of a Story - "Five Things"http://flocabulary.com/topics/reading-writing/
Lesson Plan - Using Fairy Tales Teach the Elements of a Short Storyhttp://alex.state.al.us/lesson_view.php?id=7102