From Gerald R. Lucas
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For one reason or another, I have collected several short stories on my web site—probably to teach at one time or another. Most of these should be in the public domain (or pretty close), but please contact me if copyright issues exist. Short fiction is a form of literature that focuses on telling a complete story in a condensed format.

General Characteristics

Some general characteristics of short fiction include:

  • Conciseness: Short fiction typically presents a complete story in a condensed form, often ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand words.
  • Unity of effect: Short fiction aims to achieve a single, unified effect on the reader, often through a clear and focused plot.
  • Characterization: Despite its brevity, short fiction often features well-developed characters who are central to the story and its theme.
  • Conflict and tension: Short fiction typically includes some form of conflict or tension, whether it be internal or external, that drives the plot and keeps the reader engaged.
  • Economy of language: Short fiction relies on precise and economical use of language to convey meaning, and often uses figurative language, symbolism, and imagery to create a vivid and lasting impression.
  • Closure: Short fiction provides some form of resolution or closure to the story, often through a surprising or ironic twist at the end.
  • Multiple interpretations: Short fiction often allows for multiple interpretations and readings, inviting the reader to engage with the story on a deeper level.

These characteristics are not exhaustive, and there is considerable variety within the form of short fiction. However, they provide a general sense of the key features of the genre.

Kate Chopin

F. Scott Fitzgerald

Ernest Hemingway

James Joyce

Franz Kafka

Jack London

Norman Mailer

Edgar Allan Poe

Olaf Stapledon