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The Story of the Story

by Linda Jenkinson

A short story has to have three parts: beginning, middle, and end.

Think of it as a day trip. You start off in your car, heading for a certain destination. What happens in the middle is what you encounter on your journey from point A to point B.

A short story needs four elements: people (characters), place, plot, and purpose.

You want your readers to ride along with you, otherwise you leave them along the parade route. That’s why you do a good job of introducing your characters to them and helping them become familiar with the route you travel.

A trip can be pretty boring unless there are some stops along the way. In literature, those “stops” are often full of conflicts. Inevitably, the trip will end, although it may not end as expected. That your readers walk away with a feeling of satisfaction, a smile, an answer, or even a new question is the purpose of the trip. That’s the story of the story.