What Makes a Good Short Story

2457 Words Mar 2nd, 2012 10 Pages
What Makes a Good Short Story and How Successful is R.K. Narayan in Portraying the Character of Swami in the Short Story ‘A Hero’?

Nadine Gordimer – ‘Short story writers see by the light of the flash; theirs is the art of the only thing we can be sure of – the present moment.’ This is a quote from short story writer Nadine Gordimer; referring to how the art of short story writing is to get straight to the point and write everything as it is. This is an art and those who cannot perfect it should admire it instead.

Edgar Allan Poe – ‘In the whole composition there should be no word written of which the tendency, direct or indirect, is not to the pre-established design; and by such means, with such skill and care, a picture is at
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This is an example of changing the reader’s emotions in a matter of a few seconds and it has a positive effect on the feelings towards the story.

The story has to have a fast pace to it, meaning that there are no slow starts or moments of the book where the reader can put it down. This means that there should be something humourous, exciting or out of the ordinary that will keep the reader gripping the book and hoping that the story will never end. R.K. Narayan uses irony cleverly in his short story to keep up the fast pace and to keep the reader smiling.

The best example of irony R.K. Narayan uses is the actual title of his short story, ‘A Hero’. This is due to the fact that throughout the story there are two examples of boys who are not heroes, but are quite hilariously the opposite: cowards. At the start of the story Swami’s father reads to him an article from his newspaper, reading ‘News is to hand of the bravery of a village lad who, while returning home by the jungle path, came face to face with a tiger’ and then the article goes on to describe the fight the boy endured with the tiger and his flight up a tree, where he stayed for half a day till some people came that way and killed the tiger. This boy was by no means a hero, but a coward who just survived his encounter with a tiger by climbing up a tree and with luck some people came along, who managed to kill the tiger. The second example of his not-so-much ‘a hero’

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