How to Analyse a Short Story - Engelsk (YF) - NDLA (2023)

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You will often be asked to write a literary analysis. An analysis of a short story requires a basic knowledge of literary elements. The following guide and questions may help you.

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What is a Short Story?

A short story is a work of short, narrative prose that is usually centered around one single event. It is limited in scope and has an introduction, body and conclusion. Although a short story has much in common with a novel, it is written with much greater precision. You will often be asked to write a literary analysis. An analysis of a short story requires basic knowledge of literary elements. The following guide and questions may help you:

Setting

Setting is a description of where and when the story takes place. In a short story there are fewer settings compared to a novel. The time is more limited.

  • How is the setting created? Consider geography, weather, time of day, social conditions, etc.
  • What role does setting play in the story? Is it an important part of the plot or theme? Or is it just a backdrop against which the action takes place?

Study the time period which is also part of the setting.

  • When was the story written?
  • Does it take place in the present, the past, or the future?
  • How does the time period affect the language, atmosphere or social circumstances of the short story?

Characterization

Characterization deals with how the characters in the story are described. In short stories there are usually fewer characters compared to a novel. They usually focus on one central character or protagonist.

  • Who is the main character?
  • Are the main character and other characters described through dialogue – by the way they speak (dialect or slang for instance)?
  • Has the author described the characters by physical appearance, thoughts and feelings, and interaction (the way they act towards others)?
  • Are they static/flat characters who do not change?
  • Are they dynamic/round characters who DO change?
  • What type of characters are they? What qualities stand out? Are they stereotypes?
  • Are the characters believable?

Plot and structure

The plot is the main sequence of events that make up the story. In short stories the plot is usually centered around one experience or significant moment

  • What is the most important event?
  • How is the plot structured? Is it linear, chronological or does it move around?
  • Is the plot believable?

Narrator and Point of view

The narrator is the person telling the story.
Is the narrator and the main character the same?

By point of view we mean from whose eyes the story is being told. Short stories tend to be told through one character’s point of view

  • Who is the narrator or speaker in the story?
  • Does the author speak through the main character?
  • Is the story written in the first person “I” point of view?
  • Is the story written in a detached third person “he/she” point of view?
  • Is there an “all-knowing” 3rd person who can reveal what all the characters are thinking and doing at all times and in all places?

Conflict

Conflict or tension is usually the heart of the short story and is related to the main character. In a short story there is usually one main struggle.

  • How would you describe the main conflict?
  • Is it an internal conflict within the character?
  • Is it an external conflict caused by the surroundings or environment the main character finds himself/herself in?

Climax

The climax is the point of greatest tension or intensity in the short story. It can also be the turning point where events take a major turn as the story races towards its conclusion.

  • Is there a turning point in the story?
  • When does the climax take place?

Theme

The theme is the main idea, lesson or message in the short story. It is usually an abstract idea about the human condition, society or life.

  • How is the theme expressed?
  • Are any elements repeated that may suggest a theme?
  • Is there more than one theme?

Style

The author’s style has to do with the author’s vocabulary, use of imagery, tone or feeling of the story. It has to do with his attitude towards the subject. In some short stories the tone can be ironic, humorous, cold or dramatic.

  • Is his language full of figurative language?
  • What images does he use?
  • Does the author use a lot of symbolism? Metaphors (comparisons which do not use “as” or “like”, similes (comparisons which use “as” or “like”) ?

Your literary analysis of a short story will often be in the form of an essay where you may be asked to give your opinions of the short story at the end. Choose the elements that made the greatest impression on you. Point out which character/characters you liked best or least and always support your arguments.

How to Analyse a Short Story - Engelsk (YF) - NDLA (1)

A short story has a structure and a message. Can you analyse this picture in much the same way as a short story?

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FAQs

How do you critically Analyse a short story? ›

Writing a Critical Analysis of a Short Story
  1. names the work discussed and the author.
  2. provides a very brief plot summary.
  3. relates some aspect of that plot to the topic you have chosen to address.
  4. provides a thesis statement.
  5. indicates the way you plan to develop your argument (support your claim).
16 May 2022

How do you analyze a story example? ›

What to include in a literary analysis
  1. The genre and type of the analyzed piece of literature.
  2. A thorough examination of the main characters.
  3. An outline of the work's plot and the main ideas present in the piece.
  4. A review of the overall theme of the analyzed text.
  5. A description of the symbolism identified in the piece.

What are three ways to analyze a piece of fiction? ›

Here is how to analyze a work of fiction:
  • Plot. It refers to the main events that take place throughout the story. ...
  • Characters. It refers to the protagonist, villain, and secondary characters in the story. ...
  • Figurative Language.
28 Jan 2010

What are the basic elements of a short story? ›

They are true masters at combining the five key elements that go into every great short story: character, setting, conflict, plot and theme.

What are the 4 parts of a critical analysis? ›

Identify the author's thesis and purpose. Analyze the structure of the passage by identifying all main ideas. Consult a dictionary or encyclopedia to understand material that is unfamiliar to you. Make an outline of the work or write a description of it.

What are the 4 steps of the critical analysis process? ›

Key steps to improving critical thinking include analyze, interpret, present, and evaluate.

How can I get better at analyzing a story? ›

PRACTICE
  1. Set a timer for fifteen minutes. Think back to the last thing you watched or read. ...
  2. List the elements or techniques they used. If you still have time, describe how you might apply what you learned to your own story.
  3. When you're done, share your practice in the comments and encourage each other.

How do you write an analysis? ›

How to write an analysis
  1. Choose your argument.
  2. Define your thesis.
  3. Write the introduction.
  4. Write the body paragraphs.
  5. Add a conclusion.

What is an example of analysis? ›

An analysis is just the process of breaking something down and figuring out how it works. For example, examining the way a poem uses metaphor to evoke emotion in the reader would be a type of analysis.

How do you analyze a content? ›

How to conduct content analysis
  1. Select the content you will analyze. Based on your research question, choose the texts that you will analyze. ...
  2. Define the units and categories of analysis. ...
  3. Develop a set of rules for coding. ...
  4. Code the text according to the rules. ...
  5. Analyze the results and draw conclusions.
18 Jul 2019

How do you analyze a text as a reader? ›

How to analyze a text?
  1. Read or reread the text with specific questions in mind.
  2. Marshal basic ideas, events and names. ...
  3. Think through your personal reaction to the book: identification, enjoyment, significance, application.

What is the most important part of a short story? ›

Character development is one of the most important literary elements. Developing a main character and secondary characters is a core part of a writer's narrative process. Character affects the point of view of your story, especially if you decide to tell it in first-person as opposed to third-person.

What are the three 3 most important story elements? ›

You can use endlessly different story structures and styles, but each story or novel is going to boil down to three fundamental elements: character, setting, and plot.

What is the most important element of a short story? ›

Plot as a short story element

However, plot is the spine of any given narrative, so it still features first in our study of the short story elements!

What are the 5 levels of analysis? ›

Using five levels of analysis (explicit, implicit, theoretical, interpretive, and applicable) addresses this concern by challenging students to comprehend the central ideas of texts, interrogate in terms of social justice, connect concepts to their immediate realities and extrapolate useful ideas to apply to their ...

What are the 5 components of a literary analysis? ›

The elements to be analyzed are plot, setting, characters, point of view, figurative language, and style. This will serve as the evidence/support throughout your paper.

How do you write a critical response? ›

There are four parts to a critical response paragraph:1) an argumentative topic sentence, 2) evidence in the form of quotations or paraphrases for the argument you are making, 3) interpretation of your evidence in relation to the argument, and 4) a strong concluding statement.

What are the 5 critical thinking techniques? ›

5 characteristics of critical thinking
  • Open-mindedness.
  • Respecting evidence and reasoning.
  • Being able to consider different perspectives and points of view: in other words, having cognitive flexibility.
  • Not being stuck in one position.
  • Skepticism.
  • Clarity and precision.
14 Mar 2022

What are the stages of analysis? ›

Diagnostic Analysis, Predictive Analysis, Prescriptive Analysis, Text Analysis, and Statistical Analysis are the most commonly used data analytics types. Statistical analysis can be further broken down into Descriptive Analytics and Inferential Analysis.

What are the 7 steps to analysis? ›

Here are seven steps organizations should follow to analyze their data:
  1. Define goals. Defining clear goals will help businesses determine the type of data to collect and analyze.
  2. Integrate tools for data analysis. ...
  3. Collect the data. ...
  4. Clean the data. ...
  5. Analyze the data. ...
  6. Draw conclusions. ...
  7. Visualize the data.
24 Aug 2021

What is an example of a analysis sentence? ›

Analysis sentence example. After careful analysis, he decided not to go. The atomic weight of the element has been determined by analysis. The analysis must be deeper, if we are to gain any further conclusions.

What is a simple analysis? ›

Simple analysis

This is the most common analytical method used, in part because it's quick, it's easy, and it's often all that is needed to get some top-level data to support or refute actions being proposed.

What are some analysis words? ›

analysis
  • investigation.
  • assessment.
  • inspection.
  • examination.
  • evaluation.
  • dissection.
  • deconstruction.
  • breakdown.

What are the 8 steps in content analysis? ›

  • Step 1: Prepare the Data. ...
  • Step 2: Define the Unit of Analysis. ...
  • Step 3: Develop Categories and a Coding Scheme. ...
  • Step 4: Test Your Coding Scheme on a Sample of Text. ...
  • Step 5: Code All the Text. ...
  • Step 6: Assess Your Coding Consistency. ...
  • Step 7: Draw Conclusions from the Coded Data. ...
  • Step 8: Report Your Methods and Findings.

What is the most important step in writing content analysis? ›

It is very important to capture the relevant information needed for the content analysis so that there is enough data for the intended content analysis. Just like any other research, content analysis also involves sampling, just that it is not the people or the products, the sample here is the content itself.

What is an example of content analysis? ›

Using content analysis, researchers can quantify and analyze the presence, meanings, and relationships of such certain words, themes, or concepts. As an example, researchers can evaluate language used within a news article to search for bias or partiality.

What does it mean to analyze the story? ›

When you analyze a story, you try to find a meaning for the story. You make a claim about the story's meaning, and provide evidence from the story itself to support your analysis. You look for a reasonable way of understanding the story.

What does it mean to analyze a text example? ›

When you analyze a text, you give it meaning beyond what the text tells you directly. What is analysis? When you analyze a text, you ask questions about it so that you can offer an interpretation of the text.

How do you Analyse text in English? ›

To analyse language you need to: choose an extract from the text and then select a quotation from it which illustrates the point you want to make. ask yourself how your quotation illustrates character/theme/context. look in close detail at specific words or phrases to see what effect they have.

What are 5 methods of Analysing character? ›

The five methods are physical description, action, inner thoughts, reactions, and speech.

What 3 things should a short story have? ›

Understand that a short story is not the same as a novel

And, no matter the length, they need to tell a story. That means they both need to have these elements: inciting incident, rising action (progressive complications), climax, and falling action.

What are the two most important characters in a short story? ›

A short story has a protagonist, and often an antagonist. The main character is the protagonist, hero, even antihero of the story. The antagonist is the villain or opposing force in the story. The protagonist is always in conflict with the antagonist of the story.

What makes a story amazing? ›

The best story is a well-told tale about something the reader feels is relevant or significant. The best stories are more complete and more comprehensive. They contain more verified information from more sources with more viewpoints and expertise. They exhibit more enterprise, more reportorial effort.

What are the five 5 key elements of a short story? ›

There are 5 elements of plot:
  • Exposition.
  • Rising Action.
  • Climax.
  • Falling Action.
  • Conclusion.

What are the 5 essential parts of a story? ›

There are five key elements to every story: plot, setting, characters, point of view, and conflict.

What are the 6 important aspects of a short story? ›

Storytelling 101: The 6 Elements of Every Complete Narrative
  • Setting. The setting is the time and location in which your story takes place. ...
  • Characters. A story usually includes a number of characters, each with a different role or purpose. ...
  • Plot. ...
  • Conflict. ...
  • Theme. ...
  • Narrative Arc.

What are the 3 types of short stories? ›

While there are many different short story styles, here we will consider three popular short story types: lyrical, flash fiction, and vignette.

What is the main purpose of a short story? ›

The main purpose of a short story is to enable the reader to picture in their mind the images which the writer 'paints'. Consequently, more demands are made on the reader. Since words are strictly limited, characters must be created very quickly. It is for this reason that writers use a 'plunge' technique.

What is critical analysis of a story? ›

What is critical analysis? Critical analysis is the detailed examination and evaluation of another person's ideas or work. It is subjective writing as it expresses your interpretation and analysis of the work by breaking down and studying its parts.

What is meant by critically analyze? ›

To critically analyse means to make a judgement about the quality of evidence and include when it can and can't support your argument.

What are the five reading techniques? ›

The best reading techniques are the SQ3R technique, skimming, scanning, active reading, detailed reading, and structure-proposition-evaluation.

What are the 3 main strategies in critical reading? ›

Habits • Skimming: Preview the text to estimate the time it will take complete the reading. Rereading: Reread difficult sentences for comprehension. Vocabulary: Build your vocabulary by using a dictionary and flash card for new words.

What is the key to critical analysis? ›

How do I start to think and analyse "critically"? In an academic context, critical analysis requires you to do the following in all your endeavors: Provide informed reasoning backed by evidence and ideas from trustworthy academic resources such as books and peer-reviewed journal articles.

How do you answer a critically Analyse question? ›

Examine a subject critically, analysing and commenting on the main points. Present the main points in brief, clear sequence. Give the main points or facts in condensed form. Consider both sides, make a judgment and defend it.

What is the best way to analyze and evaluate articles? ›

  • Step 1: Get a feel for the article's contents. ...
  • Step 2: Investigate any information you don't understand. ...
  • Step 3: Summarize the main points in your own words. ...
  • Step 4: Formulate your own opinion on the subject matter. ...
  • Step 5: Implement your newly acquired Knowledge.
15 Nov 2018

How do you write a good critical review? ›

The critique should be a balanced discussion and evaluation of the strengths, weakness and notable features of the text. Remember to base your discussion on specific criteria. Good reviews also include other sources to support your evaluation (remember to reference). You can choose how to sequence your critique.

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