Short stories are some of the first pieces of literature that children become acquainted with in their lives. However, as we age, sometimes we forget what these stories are about, their key elements or the ways that they continue to shape our lives as we grow.
While "Goldilocks and the Three Bears" is certainly one of the most famous examples of short stories; however, tales such as Edgar Allen Poe's "The Tell Tale Heart" and "The Lottery Ticket" by Anton Chekhov also fall into this category.
Let's return to the idea of children's tales, since people are generally familar with these stories.
Here's some examples of titles of short stories. They are available in book formats, but people also tell these stories by word-of-mouth.
Whether contemporary or classic, all of these tales fit the description of a short story - they tell a complete story in a small number of words. Many of these stories have morals or teach a lesson in a relatively short span of words.
Short stories are not just for children. According to Princeton University, a short story is technically defined as "a prose narrative shorter than a novel."
Here are some works of literature that fall into the category of short story:
Reading some of these short stories will better acquaint you with the short story form and the challenges of the author to develop an interesting plot and detailed characters in a minimal amount of words.
As with any story, you must be prepared to write for your audience. Choose to write a clear and concise tale with illustrations for little ones, or focus on a more complex theme for adults that can still be written in a compact amount of space.
While O. Henry's "The Gift of the Magi" has a couple of different happenings, Henry was able to focus on one central idea that comes together at the end of the story.
Figure out where your story is going, and work on having most of the other details come together to support that main point. This tactic will help to keep the short story at an acceptable length, while still fulfilling thematic and creative requirements of a work of literature.