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5 Making a Short Story WHAT makes a short story? Characters, a setting, action of some kind, dialogue perhaps. These are the traditional ingredients but you will find stories that omit one or more of these to create a new effect or emphasis. You have worked on all these aspects of narrative in your exercises. If you mixed all your pieces of writing together, would they make a story? Or does a short story need something else, and if so what is it? I think it does. That 'something' could be the letter in the back of the drawer that nobody finds until it is too late.

Which was it? THE SPACE WE INHABIT 23 Different verbs offer alternative meanings in each of these sentences. They are all more exact than the sentences that rely on adverbs. On the other hand, when adjectives and adverbs appear in clusters, they can produce a necessary ritardando. They force the reader to slow down, to dwell or brood on what is happening. They stop the eye from moving so fast, as in these sentences: Silently I circled the desk, pacing, prowling. Wooden, solid, it seemed to catch my eye, with its open, cleared space, its black, inviting pen.

But since Cassius's 'The fault lies not in our stars, but in ourselves' we have found it hard to take external circumstances as the sole cause of terrible events. And because we are reading the story, we are at an imaginative level participating in the events, recognising aspects of ourselves in the main character. We see our own dissatisfactions, our own pointless, unfocused longings in her and we are forced, because we are shown the terrible thing that happens to her, to question aspects of ourselves which might otherwise remain unexamined.

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