Designing a short Story

What makes a good short Story?

  • Simplicity
  •  Interesting characters
  • Conflict
  • Emotion
  •  Originality
  •  Filmic quality
  •  The deeper meaning

What should you reflect on?

  • Who are the main characters? – Protagonist/Antagonist?
  • What are their main relationships?
  •  What do they want?
  •  Where is the conflict/problem?
  • How does the conflict erupt?
  •  What drives the action of the story forward?

For the writer, ideas remain abstract until written

  • What is it about?
  •  What’s the genre?
  •  Who is the protagonist? [how is he/she/it involved in this story now? what do they want and why?]
  •  What is the driving action of your story?
  • Who or what opposes the protagonist – antagonist/conflict

“A hero who wants something takes action meets with conflict that leads to a climax and a resolution” Cowgill want – why – need [characters drive the story]


  • It provides the important information the audience needs to get the story moving.
  •  The short film should accomplish all this right up front
  •  Focus only on what is essential
  • Main point: establish the conflict

Main exposition

  • Dialogue or action
  •  Narration
  •  Written presentation
  •  Visual dramatisation
  • In short – it needs to come early and fast

Rising action – Developing the conflict

  • What the protagonist does to achieve his goal, the conflict he meets and how this action affects him along the way
  • Escalation of tension
  • Conflict rises in waves
  • Action & reaction


  • The plan A Problem ->> Leads to ->> Hero formulates a plan of action and starts implementing it
  • Obstacles it is the clearest form of conflict man, society, nature or the character himself
  • Antagonist [opposes the protagonist, opposite goal and needs]
  •  physical obstructions
  •  inner obstacles [intellectual, emotional or psychological problems the protagonist must overcome]
  •  mystic forces [bad luck, moral choices etc.]
  • crisis [point of conflict in the action]
  •  complications [they cause a change in the action]
  • Mid-Point Something happens that has consequences. These consequences will drive the action towards the main climax Main crisis Conflict should intensify and increase before the climax Climax & resolution The conflict must finally be resolved Plot is a series of interrelated actions that progresses through a struggle of opposing forces to a climax and resolution that defines the meaning of the work Opening the Short
  •  Point of decision (life changing events)
  • Change in environment
  •  Intro of the protagonist Middle section strategies • Surprise • Reversal [spins the story in the opposite direction]
  •  Suspense
  •  Dreadful alternative
  •  Pseudo-solution Revelation
  •  Striking disclosure of something not previously known or realised.
  •  More powerful if linked with another element like reversal or crisis.
  •  Must have a direct relationship to the main exposition of the film.

Example of short stories that show these steps:


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