10 Characteristics of a short story – everything at a glance

Short stories are among the best-known types of text in general. You must have encountered them many times.

But how exactly Recognize short story and how do you distinguish it from the many other text types from?

Let’s take a look at this on the basis of 10 features the short story and an example to it now more exactly at!

What is the short story?

The short story is an literary genre, which was characterized by a very short text EXCELLENT. The Content this prose form is based on the Essential limited.

Often the short story focuses on everyday situations, That represent universal truths.

The origin this text type comes from the american Short Story.

10 features of the short story

The short story joins short novels, novellas, anecdotes, fairy tales, parables and fables. But what exactly distinguishes the text type?

Here are 10 characteristics you can use to recognize the short story:

Short text

As the name suggests, short stories are first of all briefly. Mostly they exceed one to three pages not.

Caution: In some cases you will also encounter short stories, which for example over 30 pages are long.

Direct entry

You will find rarely an introduction into the action. Most of the time you jump right into the situation.

Little information about the environment

The short story contains No detailed information to the individual characters or the locations. So you often don’t know where the story is actually set.

You have to figure out the background by using metaphors or leitmotifs for example.

Everyday life topics

The topics, questions and problems dealt with mostly come from the Everyday life. You probably encounter them yourself often in a similar way.

Everyday characters

The characters that appear in short stories are mostly quite normal everyday people. You don’t find heroes very often.

A plot line

There are only a plot line with few characters. In addition, often only a few minutes or hours Consider.

Personal narrator

Short stories often refer to the personal narrative perspective Use made.

10 Characteristics of a Short Story - Everything at a Glance

Everyday language

The language used in the text is concise and precise. It is limited to the essentials.

Often even Colloquial used.

10 Characteristics of a Short Story - Everything at a Glance


Towards the end of the story there is a surprising turning point, that is the Pointe.

Open end

Short stories like to be told with a open End completed. That means there is no resolution. You as the reader keep thinking yourself instead.

Example of a short story

Now, as an example, read the short story German lesson through.

Do all 10 characteristics apply to this story?

German lessons (2016) – Bob Blum

"The beginning of the short story is always sudden, remember that!" The cold had crept up his neck from the leaky windows. In the back, where he and Jana were sitting, it was particularly bad. In the corner of his eye he saw that she was freezing too. The light hairs on their arms stood upward.

"What did I just say?"
Mr. Sternberger’s chest quivered. He leisurely paced backwards, not taking his eyes off him. His corduroy pants looked like three layers of earth.

"Do you need an extra invitation?"

Paul looked past the teacher, at the blackboard. It was inscribed with illegible characters. Some math from the day before, a few English vocabulary words. Sternberger’s face would be beaming happily. Little veins stretched past their red cheeks to their furrowed foreheads. Eyes always twisted slightly when he tried to fix a target. That’s why he focused for only a few seconds at a time, only to turn away again seemingly by accident. If he did, the students laughed at him and acted as if someone had made a joke.

Paul could see his breath as it set in.

"Suddenly!", Paul said as if breathed.

"Be louder, man. Everyone wants to hear what you said."

The others hear nothing. They stare boredly at little scribbles in front of them, made during Sternberger’s monologue. Only circles and corner, sometimes a lewd figure in between, nothing earth-shattering.

"Suddenly, Mr. Sternberger! Short stories start suddenly."

"Why not just like that, Funny?", Sternberger asked but is already not waiting for the answer. He stresses the name the way he likes. Mostly as if he had made a joke with it. He starts slowly and puffily, with a lot of heaviness on the first syllable, after which his voice slides upwards, as if to ask him a question.

"What is the author trying to accomplish with this opening?"

The eyes of the class wander into the void. Jana continues to sit next to him and freezes. Always froze. Many say that’s the way it is with girls. But it also freezes. He fixes Sternberger to be able to turn away.

"Talk about it with your neighbors."

Paul squinted over. But Jana has already turned into a row of three. It would not be worth joining. Maybe it would be warmer? He turns to the window.

The snow lies on the trees like a sea of flowers from a world where there is no darkness. The houses stand firm in the ground and emit life. The smoke in front of the snow – a shade of people. But without it? The trees farther back were bathed in white. They look for each other, stand close to each other. But you can’t see which is the most important tree. All are the same. Dark fir green. If you were to wander through the forest now, it would be very quiet. Snow swallows the colors and the sounds. The animals of the forest are in hibernation or in the south. The way of their freedom.

"What conclusion did you come to? Paul witty?"

Address a group and mean one. Teacher torture. Mr. Sternberger stands wide-legged and smiles at nothing. Some turn away, laughing. He thinks he is funny. Everybody knows It’s not him.

"I haven’t finished thinking yet," says Paul. Jana’s face beside him contorts. She snorts right away, can’t afford it.

"That’s not the way to graduate," Sternberger says, adding, "That’s not the way to graduate."

Paul says nothing. He hopes that he will now have his peace for the rest of the week. That he would not be asked, by Sternberger and all the others, who would tell him that it would be nothing. When he still had questions about everything that interested him, it was different. But the questions were gone. Or at others. And answers he had never had.

The bell pulled everyone upwards as if with a transparent cord. They fell out of the class as if in a fall, loudly sounding and frolicking, what now, at last, since school was over, was in store.

Paul took a deep breath and traced the breath that made it across the table before it dissipated. He stood up, slowly, as if he had to move in slow motion.

Sternberger must have written something else on the blackboard that had escaped him before. "The conclusion…" was said there.

Paul packed his things and went closer to the blackboard. "The end is usually open." What was it supposed to mean? Open. So there is no end? No happy ending? No resolution.

A sudden beginning and no resolution at the end. For the first time that day, no, that week, Paul had to grin. The features of the short story were not just in keeping with Sternberger’s school lessons.

Actually they corresponded to the whole life.

What a pity he would not tell anyone. No one would want to listen. Only laughter, glances, little drawings on paper.

The dark breaking under his steps accompanied his walk through the snow. He knocked on the front door where his grandma spread her arms. A little dot on the apron told him there would be goulash. That made him happy.

"Goulash!", he said joyfully.

"You know, my little Paul," said his grandma. I don’t think I know anyone who can observe as well as you do."

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