Short-Story Structure

Authors sometimes ask me about the structure of short stories. In my experience, this can vary wildly.

Some short stories may include elements of the three-act structure that’s the underpinning of many novels and screenplays—a Call to Adventure, a Refusal of the Call, and so on—but many short stories are perfectly satisfying without these steps.

For me, the bottom line is that, in a short story, something changes and it matters.

Even when I say, “something changes,” that’s kind of negotiable. The hero may try to effect a change and fail. Even then, of course, there is a change of sorts: defeat.

About Colin Thomas

Colin Thomas is a Vancouver-based editor, an award-winning playwright, and an established theatre critic. Colin helps writers unlock the full potential of their novels, short stories, screenplays, and children's books.

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