Story – Definition, Types of Stories and How to Write a Story 


What is a story?

Story is one of the most important and widespread narrative genres in the literary world, given the brevity of its works and the increase of literary productions characteristic of the story that have been gathered throughout history. A story is a type of text that represents events through language, these can be historical or fictional. In terms of length, they are usually longer than a short story and shorter than a novel.

This is also a knowledge transmitted with clear particularities, since its concept comes from the Latin relatus, also referring to tales and short stories. We can often find tales in other manifestations of literature.


The term -relato-, comes from the Latin word relātus, with which tales have also been designated, emphasizing a much shorter extension that has allowed it to stand out as one of the most important literary narrative subgenres.

Definition of the story

According to the above, the short story is one of the narrative forms shorter than a novel and a short story, since it aims to gather the most important aspects of the story and emphasize crucial events for the development of the story. It is characterized as a story in which descriptions are substantially reduced and seeks to make an impact with far fewer words and details.

The stories can be real or fictitious and are not subject only to the written field, since they transcend and can be presented through oral transmission. Although when they are written they may have a defined structure, especially for the narrative genre such as beginning, middle and end, when they are told orally and as a product of momentary inspiration, they may deviate from this scheme.

What is a story

Origin of the short story 

Although at the beginning it was treated and directly related to the short story, years later a distinction would be made and the short story would be divided as one of the subgenres of narrative and the short story as a type of tale, another of the subgenres of this literary field. At first the concept was recognized in 1842 with the criticism of the author Edgar Allan Poe, towards Hawthorne, an experimental process, which would be key to the new form of literary fiction. However, with the passage of time, short stories had already been collected, such as the first books arranged in the Bible.

The story begins to be included in the history of narrative poems, as well as in the oral tradition that allowed us to trace its appearance in the 13th century. Subsequently, the most important writers of the Romanticism movement began to work on the literary sub-genre, so that figures such as Addison and Defoe began to stand out in the creation of stories. It would be towards the 19th century that the short story will be solidly arranged in the literary field by authors of the time such as Edgar Allan Poe, Irving and Hawthorne, who use the field to create short stories and giving rise to the short story in literature as a concise text and characterized by the sharpness of the elements, so that the subgenre is established and with it, the parameters that distinguish it from the other narrative subgenres.

Characteristics of the short story 

It is a narrative genre of literature where the author synthesizes key aspects of the situation or story, which are essential for the development of the theme. In the short story the impact is achieved with fewer words as opposed to other genres such as the novel. The themes of the stories tend to approach supernatural aspects rather than real ones.

The stories lack descriptions and details that are too specific; they start from concrete points of reference. These aspects allow the reader to connect with the story without the danger of losing it, because it presents an accurate picture. A good story is one that holds the reader’s attention from beginning to end. They should be read without difficulty, and should not include one story within another.

Structure: the story can be built from one or several voices within the same narrative. The story also builds each of the characters, as well as the space and time in which the events take place.

It always leaves room for surprise, always action after action. Although it is not required to have an introduction, development and ending, the presence of a transcendental change or twist in the story is important. Remember that the story can be the result of a momentary inspiration.

Parts of the story 

As we mentioned, there is no fixed structure or parts that must be present within the development of a story given its specificity, however, it is necessary to take into account elements such as those presented below to solve key parts and questions about the narrator, what happens, space and time that should be included in the story.

Let’s take a closer look at each part of a story:


Not in all stories there is a title, however, when it is decided to include it, it must be related to the central theme of the story.


In the writing of this, as we will see later, it is the first thing that must be taken into account to start with the construction of the scenes. It is the event on which the story takes place, it can be an event, a conquest, a stage in the personal life, an achievement, a sad event, among others.


This part is a short fragment in which the ideas that will be presented in the story appear. Often this section includes the place, time and the characters that will be in the story as a short description or introduction.


Few characters should be used, they should have fundamental roles in the story.


This part includes the space in which the events occur, the verb tenses to be used and, in general, the environment in which the story takes place.


The facts were presented in sequence in the course of the story, therefore the denouement of the story, this can answer a question developed in the text, a concern or even present a suggestion according to the central theme.

Story structure

As a subgenre of the narrative field, in its writing it maintains a series of elements that allow it to follow this structure, although in many cases with the action of narrating, these may vary in their order.


This is the first part of the text in which only the main characters of the story are presented, they are placed in a specific situation in a specific place and time, so that the reader is presented with the basics of the story in a clear and concise manner.


It is the central part in which the important conflict of the story grows and begins to develop, the problem reaches the highest point of interest for the course of the story where the characters face an obstacle.


This is the closing of the story in which the conflict raised in the crux of the story is resolved or solved. Each of the characters, or the character, solves the problem. It is important to bear in mind that the story does not always have a descriptive ending, since it can be closed without a definite solution.

Types of stories

Types of stories

In particular, stories are divided into two main categories: oral stories or written stories. The difference between them lies in the language used in each one, because while oral stories use an informal language, written stories usually use a much more formal language, applying the rules of the language, the correct writing and spelling, as well as other elements. The oral account can take written form with the proper transcription.

According to the above, the divisions of the story are:

Personal narrative

This type of text is a form of narrative representation of an event or fact of great importance in the intimate life of a person. It often involves the expression of feelings and emotions that reach the reader as well. They also have a defined space and time, used by the narrator to be the protagonist of what happens.

This type of story may use informal or formal language, include descriptions of places, characters or things, narrated in the first person with a subjective character. Verbs are used in the present or past tense.

Historical narrative

is a type of story that focuses on recounting real events in chronological form, part of a real and transcendental episode in history. This type of story can represent or present it partially subject to the truth or changing some things, everything will depend on the author’s intentions. It can have a direct relation with the real event.

For its writing it is necessary to have full knowledge of the facts to be told, it has the possibility of linking elements of fiction and the personal view of the writer.

Testimonial story

This type of story contributes to the preservation of memory, so that it can come directly from the oral story. However, it can also create the memory in the absence of prior knowledge. This account links elements of the context of the person narrating the story or event.

Story by length

This form of classification focuses on the length of the story. Thus, the long story can extend to 500 words or more, short stories or also known as short stories can be less than 250 words, and finally we find the micro-stories that can be less than 80 words.

Fantastic stories

The themes that are dealt with in this type of story superimpose everything that is foreign to the natural. The story to which the story resorts includes unreal events that have no justification, that is, there are no certainties within what is happening. These explanations for the events are not given in the text for the reader to find.

Wonderful story

the logical possibilities are insufficient to explain the occurrence of the events that are unfolding, the action may occur in another universe. Here the reader is the one who decides if it is necessary to resort to new laws of nature to explain the phenomenon presented. Thus, it may include objects or beings with unreal sizes, unreal facts are incorporated as real, or even unreal tools are found within a completely real environment.

Wonderful and bizarre story

the reader can justify the course of events with unreal tools and events in the story. Stories of this type are usually related to stories cut by insane people, dreams, characters under the effect of substances that alter their vision of reality, among other aspects. However, the fundamental characteristic has to do with the fact that a logical explanation is found, which will be broken down by the reader.

The most important micro-story was written by Augusto Monterroso: “When I woke up, the dinosaur was still there”. This text has been the subject of critics and experts to differentiate between a short story and a short story, but there is still no concrete answer.


How to write a short story?

We will now present a series of elements that should be taken into account when writing a type of text like this:

Choose the theme

Once you have the idea or theme of your story, it will be easier to start building the scenes. Remember that the story should not be long, so it is not necessary to detail the plot of the text. Ideally, you should focus on the central events and build the story around them, since the story should be based on them.
Identify the narrator: you can choose any type of narrator, whether omniscient, in second or third person, one or two voices, etc. However, the most important thing is that the register does not have abrupt changes of narrator, since this could confuse the reader and change the conduction of the story. Try to use the same narrator throughout the story.

Build the characters

To begin to introduce them, start by choosing them. Avoid overloading the story with too many characters, it is recommended that the range is between 1 and 3 characters. The personality of the characters should be clear to the reader with data such as their names and ages, and presented from the first moment of the narrative.

Execute the twist of the story

Keep in mind that the story can have the narrative structure; beginning, development and the change of the end, so it is extremely important to give a twist or change in the course of the story. It is a key scene in the development of the story where something relevant happens. This change must be presented to the reader and surprise him. This twist is not done without prior warning, that is, there must be a hint within the story or the characters, not evident but it can be subtle so that it is not entirely predictable.
Revise and correct

In the course of writing, it is possible that because of the excitement of not missing an idea, we write very fast and there may be spelling or writing mistakes, so it is advisable to review very well at the end of the story. You can even expand on ideas that you think were not clear or cut some parts. All this is part of correcting and revising it before finishing it.

Most recognized authors of short stories

Among them we can find one of the most important representatives such as Jorge Luis Borges, Edgar Allan Poe known as the father of the detective story, Agatha Christie, Julio Cortázar, Mario Vargas Llosa, Juan Rulfo, among others.

Thus, the story is presented as the most recurrent genre and that will shape others of the narrative, presented mainly in the act of telling or referring to something, either a real event or that is part of the imaginary world where many authors will begin to write their great works.