Let's get specific: Since the average length of a short story is approximately eighteen typewritten pages, these pages are typically divisible into four sections of predictable but not equal lengths. A story of this size usually consists of an introduction, followed by a section that might best be called the building action. The building action leads into an extended climax scene, wherein a key line is embedded near the scene's conclusion. Finally, there is a brief section, best referred to as the falling action, which might contain a secondary key line, which depends upon the initial key for its impact. In broad outline, this is the inevitable story form or archetype. An archetype is a shape or a pattern. This is a story's inevitable shape, what makes it recognizable and what makes it appear to be organic.
Robert Burdette Sweet [Swe90, pp. 50-51]
What makes a good plot? Any kind of plot can be made to work. Some plots present the reader with a series of surprises: others are entirely predictable. Some plots encompass large dramatic actions, others take place within one room. Some stories are dominated by their plots: others have only the sketchiest of plots.
Kate Grenville [Gre90, p. 142]
Copyright © 1997 Katherine Phelps