Different Ways to Approach a Short Story Essay

What exactly is a short story essay? It can be one of two different things. It can be an essay based on a short story written by someone else, or it can be an essay of your own, concerning the creation of a short story. Let’s look at both possibilities, shall we?

This type of essay may be based upon someone else’s work which would require that you be familiar with that piece of work, enough to analyze it effectively. What was the story about? What genre? Is it a first person narrative or told from a distance? For what age group was the story intended? Is it based on a real incident or real people? Or completely fictional? There is a lot to consider beyond the story itself. This type of analytical essay can be a wonderful choice.

After determining what type the story is, consider whether it was well written. Was the author a professional or an amateur? Do you want to read more works by the same author? If so, why? If not, why not?

Once you have read the short story and thought about it for a little while, think about your approach to your essay. How long does it have to be? It might be difficult to write a short story essay of ten pages on a story that was only five pages long! Make sure you have enough thoughts about the subject, setting or characters to fill the right amount of space. Be sure you leave enough room at the end to explain your opinion.

The second type of short story essay would be one you create about a short story you either have written or plan to write. All the same general rules apply to a story of your own that apply to one written by someone else. Pick the setting, time-frame, characters and style if it hasn’t been written yet. Write about every step of the creation, the reasons you chose one place over another or on character over another. As with anything you write, it’s always best to write about what you know.

By writing about what you know, I don’t necessarily mean using real people or just your home town. If you know about restaurants, use one in the story. If your hobby is mountain climbing, find a way to include it, naming the equipment for realism. As far as characters are concerned, it isn’t hard to use aspects of several different personalities to make one character believable. A good short story (or full length novel, for that matter) requires a ring of truth to keep the reader interested. The hard thing with short stories is that you have to know how much information will be enough. Brevity is as important as content, but neither can be neglected. The trick is to give enough information about character and location to create realism without wasting space on extraneous detail. Just research the essay topics thoroughly and tell the story as clearly and simply as possible within the time and space parameters you are given for the assignment.

Whichever type of short story essay you write, remember that minimal words can be used to maximal effect. Always use the introduction to an essay to explain your topic clearly and accurately.