SHORT ​ ​STORY ​ ​EXAM

PREPARING ​ ​FOR ​ ​THE ​ ​SHORT ​ ​STORY ​ ​EXAM
STEP ​ ​1:​ ​Respond ​ ​to ​ ​the ​ ​STIMULUS ​ ​MATERIAL
BRAINSTORM, ​ ​looking ​ ​for ​ ​inspiration ​ ​in ​ ​the ​ ​images ​ ​and ​ ​words. ​ ​QUESTION ​ ​THE ​ ​STIMULUS: ​ ​who, ​ ​what, ​ ​when, ​ ​where, ​ ​why, ​ ​how?
What
​ ​story ​ ​could ​ ​you ​ ​tell ​ ​that ​ ​is ​ ​UNEXPECTED? ​ ​Write ​ ​down ​ ​ANY ​ ​ideas ​ ​that ​ ​you ​ ​have ​ ​for ​ ​possible ​ ​characters, ​ ​complications, ​ ​conflicts,
themes,
​ ​atmosphere ​ ​etc. ​ ​Remember, ​ ​you ​ ​only ​ ​need ​ ​ONE ​ ​good ​ ​idea ​ ​to ​ ​craft ​ ​a ​ ​great ​ ​short ​ ​story!
STEP ​ ​2:​ ​Start​ ​to ​ ​map ​ ​out​ ​your ​ ​STORY ​ ​IDEAS
Once ​ ​you ​ ​have ​ ​some ​ ​ideas ​ ​for ​ ​a ​ ​character, ​ ​setting, ​ ​complication ​ ​or ​ ​conflict, ​ ​start ​ ​to ​ ​organise ​ ​your ​ ​ideas. ​ ​Consider: ​ ​​characters , ​ ​​setting ,
plot
,
​ ​​theme and ​ ​​style .
● CHARACTERS
To ​ ​make ​ ​your ​ ​characters ​ ​realistic ​ ​you ​ ​can ​ ​“borrow” ​ ​attributes ​ ​from ​ ​people ​ ​you ​ ​already ​ ​know ​ ​or ​ ​strangers ​ ​you ​ ​have ​ ​seen. ​ ​People
watching
​ ​with ​ ​a ​ ​notebook ​ ​is ​ ​a ​ ​great ​ ​way ​ ​to ​ ​spend ​ ​some ​ ​time ​ ​writing ​ ​what ​ ​you ​ ​see; ​ ​you ​ ​never ​ ​know ​ ​when ​ ​it ​ ​might ​ ​be ​ ​useful.
Make
​ ​sure ​ ​your ​ ​characters’ ​ ​personalities ​ ​are ​ ​not ​ ​perfect. ​ ​Every ​ ​character ​ ​needs ​ ​to ​ ​have ​ ​some ​ ​flaws, ​ ​some ​ ​problems, ​ ​some
imperfections,
​ ​some ​ ​insecurities. ​ ​You ​ ​might ​ ​assume ​ ​that ​ ​people ​ ​wouldn’t ​ ​like ​ ​to ​ ​read ​ ​about ​ ​a ​ ​character ​ ​with ​ ​a ​ ​lot ​ ​of ​ ​flaws, ​ ​but ​ ​that
couldn’t
​ ​be ​ ​farther ​ ​from ​ ​the ​ ​truth. ​ ​Batman ​ ​wouldn’t ​ ​be ​ ​The ​ ​Dark ​ ​Knight ​ ​if ​ ​he ​ ​weren’t ​ ​a ​ ​borderline ​ ​sociopath!
People
​ ​can ​ ​relate ​ ​to ​ ​characters ​ ​with ​ ​problems, ​ ​as ​ ​that’s ​ ​realistic. ​ ​When ​ ​trying ​ ​to ​ ​come ​ ​up ​ ​with ​ ​flaws, ​ ​you ​ ​don’t ​ ​need ​ ​to ​ ​give ​ ​your
character
​ ​some ​ ​huge, ​ ​bizarre ​ ​issue. ​ ​For ​ ​most ​ ​characters, ​ ​try ​ ​to ​ ​stick ​ ​with ​ ​things ​ ​you ​ ​know ​ ​about. ​ ​For ​ ​example, ​ ​the ​ ​character ​ ​could
have
​ ​anger ​ ​issues, ​ ​be ​ ​afraid ​ ​of ​ ​water, ​ ​be ​ ​lonely, ​ ​dislike ​ ​being ​ ​around ​ ​other ​ ​people, ​ ​drink ​ ​too ​ ​much, ​ ​etc. ​ ​All ​ ​of ​ ​these ​ ​could ​ ​be ​ ​taken
further
​ ​in ​ ​development.
● SETTING
Use ​ ​the ​ ​stimulus ​ ​sheet ​ ​for ​ ​ideas: ​ ​Where ​ ​could ​ ​this ​ ​character ​ ​be, ​ ​for ​ ​a ​ ​story ​ ​to ​ ​take ​ ​place? ​ ​Where ​ ​would ​ ​this ​ ​sort ​ ​of ​ ​complication ​ ​take
place?
​ ​Don’t ​ ​try ​ ​to ​ ​make ​ ​it ​ ​too ​ ​complicated; ​ ​pay ​ ​attention ​ ​to ​ ​the ​ ​finer ​ ​details ​ ​of ​ ​everyday ​ ​life.
● PLOT
Start ​ ​to ​ ​brainstorm ​ ​what ​ ​may ​ ​happen ​ ​at ​ ​the ​ ​different ​ ​stages ​ ​of ​ ​the ​ ​story:
ORIENTATION : ​ ​The ​ ​opening ​ ​of ​ ​the ​ ​story; ​ ​the ​ ​reader’s ​ ​​subtle introduction ​ ​to ​ ​complex ​ ​characters ​ ​and ​ ​setting ​ ​details ​ ​relevant
to
​ ​THIS ​ ​story.
COMPLICATION/CONFLICT : ​ ​The ​ ​point ​ ​of ​ ​the ​ ​story; ​ ​the ​ ​conflict.
RISING ​ ​ACTION/TENSION : ​ ​The ​ ​events ​ ​leading ​ ​to ​ ​the ​ ​climax ​ ​or ​ ​turning ​ ​point.
CLIMAX : ​ ​The ​ ​most ​ ​intense ​ ​part ​ ​of ​ ​the ​ ​story, ​ ​where ​ ​the ​ ​pace ​ ​usually ​ ​quickens.
RESOLUTION : ​ ​A ​ ​​satisfying ending ​ ​where ​ ​the ​ ​main ​ ​complication/conflict ​ ​is ​ ​resolved, ​ ​and ​ ​the ​ ​main ​ ​character ​ ​overcomes ​ ​(or
does
​ ​not ​ ​overcome) ​ ​the ​ ​complication/conflict.
● THEME
Consider ​ ​the ​ ​themes ​ ​that ​ ​can ​ ​help ​ ​develop ​ ​your ​ ​story ​ ​(friendship, ​ ​betrayal, ​ ​guilt, ​ ​trust, ​ ​love, ​ ​religion, ​ ​war, ​ ​culture ​ ​etc.) ​ ​Consider ​ ​how
elements
​ ​of ​ ​THE ​ ​HUMAN ​ ​CONDITION ​ ​could ​ ​be ​ ​examined ​ ​in ​ ​your ​ ​story: ​ ​thematic ​ ​concern ​ ​about ​ ​human ​ ​nature, ​ ​human ​ ​society ​ ​or ​ ​how
we
​ ​live ​ ​our ​ ​lives; ​ ​an ​ ​exploration ​ ​of ​ ​the ​ ​fundamental ​ ​issues ​ ​of ​ ​human ​ ​existence.
● STYLE
From ​ ​whose/which ​ ​perspective ​ ​are ​ ​you ​ ​going ​ ​to ​ ​write: ​ ​First ​ ​person, ​ ​second ​ ​person, ​ ​third ​ ​person ​ ​limited ​ ​or ​ ​third ​ ​person ​ ​omniscient?
What
​ ​about ​ ​verb ​ ​tense: ​ ​Is ​ ​the ​ ​story ​ ​going ​ ​to ​ ​occur ​ ​in ​ ​the ​ ​present ​ ​tense, ​ ​with ​ ​your ​ ​characters ​ ​learning ​ ​about ​ ​their ​ ​fate ​ ​as ​ ​the ​ ​story
unfolds,
​ ​or ​ ​is ​ ​is ​ ​going ​ ​to ​ ​be ​ ​told ​ ​in ​ ​past ​ ​tense, ​ ​where ​ ​there ​ ​is ​ ​opportunity ​ ​for ​ ​foreshadowing ​ ​and ​ ​reflection?
REMEMBER: ​ ​Size ​ ​Matters ​ ​​ ​Limit ​ ​the ​ ​breadth ​ ​of ​ ​your ​ ​story.
The ​ ​main ​ ​events ​ ​of ​ ​a ​ ​short ​ ​story ​ ​should ​ ​occur ​ ​in ​ ​a ​ ​relatively ​ ​short ​ ​period ​ ​of ​ ​time ​ ​(minutes ​ ​or ​ ​hours), ​ ​and ​ ​you ​ ​typically ​ ​won’t ​ ​be ​ ​able ​ ​to
develop
​ ​effectively ​ ​more ​ ​than ​ ​one ​ ​plot, ​ ​one ​ ​or ​ ​two ​ ​main ​ ​characters, ​ ​and ​ ​one ​ ​setting.
STEP ​ ​3:​ ​Make ​ ​some ​ ​CRITICAL ​ ​DECISIONS
● Plan ​ ​your ​ ​short ​ ​story ​ ​in ​ ​point ​ ​form.
● You
​ ​should ​ ​know ​ ​what ​ ​is ​ ​happening ​ ​from ​ ​the ​ ​very ​ ​beginning ​ ​of ​ ​the ​ ​story ​ ​to ​ ​the ​ ​very ​ ​end ​ ​of ​ ​it, ​ ​before ​ ​you ​ ​start ​ ​drafting ​ ​your
story.
ORIENTATION :
COMPLICATION/CONFLICT :
RISING ​ ​ACTION/TENSION :
CLIMAX :
RESOLUTION :
STEP ​ ​4:​ ​DRAFT ​ ​your ​ ​short​ ​story
● Use ​ ​the ​ ​plan ​ ​you ​ ​created ​ ​in ​ ​Step ​ ​3, ​ ​to ​ ​write ​ ​the ​ ​whole ​ ​story, ​ ​from ​ ​beginning ​ ​to ​ ​end.
STEP ​ ​5:​ ​EDIT ​ ​your ​ ​story
● Find ​ ​the ​ ​complication/conflict ​ ​in ​ ​your ​ ​story: ​ ​Is ​ ​it ​ ​relatively ​ ​early ​ ​in ​ ​the ​ ​story? ​ ​If ​ ​not, ​ ​cut ​ ​out ​ ​some ​ ​of ​ ​the ​ ​BACK ​ ​STORY ​ ​and
embed
​ ​the ​ ​necessary ​ ​elements ​ ​of ​ ​the ​ ​backstory, ​ ​into ​ ​the ​ ​rising ​ ​action/tension ​ ​section ​ ​of ​ ​the ​ ​story.
● Consider
​ ​development ​ ​of ​ ​character ​ ​and ​ ​setting: ​ ​Have ​ ​these ​ ​been ​ ​developed ​ ​with ​ ​​subtlety ? ​ ​Or ​ ​have ​ ​you ​ ​created ​ ​“shopping
list”
​ ​characters ​ ​and ​ ​settings ​ ​(i.e. ​ ​listing ​ ​the ​ ​character’s ​ ​name, ​ ​age, ​ ​likes/dislikes, ​ ​hair ​ ​colour, ​ ​family ​ ​members, ​ ​time ​ ​of ​ ​day,
weather
​ ​conditions, ​ ​etc.) ​ ​THIS ​ ​IS ​ ​VERY ​ ​INEFFECTIVE! ​ ​Ensure ​ ​you ​ ​build ​ ​characters ​ ​and ​ ​setting ​ ​through ​ ​the ​ ​ACTION ​ ​and
REACTION
​ ​in ​ ​the ​ ​story, ​ ​such ​ ​as ​ ​through ​ ​characters’ ​ ​facial ​ ​expressions, ​ ​movement ​ ​and ​ ​speech/dialogue. ​ ​Only ​ ​embed ​ ​setting
details
​ ​that ​ ​contribute ​ ​to ​ ​the ​ ​development ​ ​of ​ ​THIS ​ ​STORY.
STEP ​ ​6:​ ​PROOFREAD​ ​your ​ ​story ​ ​for ​ ​MECHANICAL ​ ​errors
● Check ​ ​the ​ ​VERB ​ ​TENSE ​ ​throughout ​ ​​ ​have ​ ​you ​ ​been ​ ​consistent?
● Check
​ ​the ​ ​use ​ ​of ​ ​narrator ​ ​​ ​first, ​ ​second, ​ ​third ​ ​person ​ ​(limited/omniscient) ​ ​​ ​for ​ ​consistency.
● Check
​ ​spelling ​ ​​ ​use ​ ​a ​ ​dictionary!
● Check
​ ​punctuation ​ ​(especially ​ ​apostrophes, ​ ​use ​ ​of ​ ​semicolons ​ ​and ​ ​dialogue: ​ ​new ​ ​speaker ​ ​= ​ ​new ​ ​line).
● Check
​ ​use ​ ​of ​ ​vocabulary ​ ​​ ​have ​ ​you ​ ​used ​ ​an ​ ​extensive ​ ​and ​ ​sophisticated ​ ​range ​ ​of ​ ​words, ​ ​which ​ ​build ​ ​character, ​ ​setting,
tension,
​ ​tone, ​ ​atmosphere ​ ​etc.
STEP ​ ​7:​ ​Proofread ​ ​AGAIN​ ​checking ​ ​for ​ ​IMPACT ​ ​ON​ ​READERS
● Does ​ ​it ​ ​flow? ​ ​Is ​ ​it ​ ​cohesive?
● Is
​ ​the ​ ​story ​ ​believable?
● Have
​ ​you ​ ​used ​ ​imagery, ​ ​figurative ​ ​language ​ ​and ​ ​sensory ​ ​appeal?
● Have
​ ​you ​ ​evoked ​ ​a ​ ​particular ​ ​response ​ ​from ​ ​readers? ​ ​(fear, ​ ​laughter, ​ ​inspiration ​ ​etc.)
● Get
​ ​your ​ ​parents, ​ ​friends, ​ ​aunts, ​ ​uncles, ​ ​grandparents ​ ​to ​ ​READ ​ ​​ ​your ​ ​story ​ ​and ​ ​provide ​ ​you ​ ​with ​ ​some ​ ​feedback.
● Don’t
​ ​be ​ ​afraid ​ ​to ​ ​make ​ ​changes! ​ ​You ​ ​should ​ ​continue ​ ​to ​ ​refine ​ ​and ​ ​polish ​ ​your ​ ​work; ​ ​rarely ​ ​will ​ ​an ​ ​author ​ ​EVER ​ ​“finish” ​ ​a
piece
​ ​of ​ ​writing.

WE ACCEPT