An event in a person’s life

The most important thing about a short story plot is that it should be about and event in a person's life. The reader is drawn into a story by identifying with the central character, and it is this identification which should hold his attention all the way through. A finished story may well have a general meaning, such as: 'love will find a way' or: 'appearances can be deceptive', but it is not practical to set out with the intention of creating a story to illustrate such a message. We must start with a person - a person facing some kind of predicament, and work out the story in those terms.

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Mann Erudite – Essays on Literary Works