You can assume that your audience has read the short story that you choose for your subject but has not studied or analyzed it. Your job is not to summarize the story but to help readers appreciate it and to understand its meaning. To help you go beyond a simple summary of the story, you should ask yourself what point the writer is trying to make. What is the author trying to tell us through the story?
As you consider a possible thesis for your essay, it might be helpful if you come up with three or four important and related claims (or critical insights about the story) that you think you can support with specific evidence from the story. These claims could then be the bases for the different body paragraphs of your essay. From the claims, you could then formulate a one-sentence thesis statement. Each claim you present in your essay should be supported with ample evidence from the story itself.
Typically, essays are written in the voice of the author, whereas short stories are written in the voice of a narrator, a persona created by the author to tell the story. As you are writing about a short story and are referring to what the storyteller says, you should not refer to what the "author" says but to what the narrator says.
Sometimes, an essay on a short story will include parenthetical citations for page numbers of quoted words and a separate "Work Cited" page listing publication information for the story, all according to Modern Language Association (MLA) standards. However, please do not include parenthetical citations or a "Work Cited" page with your essay. Understanding how to cite and document material properly can get somewhat complicated, and, at this point, I would prefer than you focus on developing and presenting your interpretation well without having to think about the proper citation and documentation of your subject. Later in the course, we will discuss MLA citation and documentation of sources.
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As your work on your essay, it may be helpful to review the information about the writing process presented on our course pages. Although the Web pages linked below use a photograph as the subject of an essay, the same principles apply to an essay on a short story.
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I think to publish the story in New York Times magazine is a dream and honor for every writer. Even though it’s not paid it has so many benefits.
Hey! Maybe instead of being a writer, I should be a publisher! I could charge each submission about $15 or $20, (G.T.’s rates) publish one story online, and make a mint! ;-D
We couldn’t find any information on pay specifically for short stories. I’ve updated the entry with a link to the Who Pays Writers submissions for the magazine, and maybe readers can chime in if they know of pay for short stories.
Thanks for checking in, Angie! The New Yorker does pay for some pieces, but we haven’t seen any information about pay for short stories. I’ve updated the entry to be clearer, as well as a link to the Who Pays Writers entries for the magazine.
Great list of heavy hitters. These are terrific publications, but most of them are extremely tough to crack and several only really consider agented submissions (even if their guidelines say otherwise). I think emerging writers should also submit to smaller magazines that are open to work by unpublished or not-widely-published writers (like Fiction Attic!). As a NYT bestselling author with four novels and two story collections under my belt , I know that my chances of getting into the New Yorker, Atlantic Monthly, Zoetrope, or Boulevard are exceedingly slim. Unpublished writers may find a home for their work at reputable, university-sponsored magazines, which are often run by MFA candidates and may be more serious about reading unsolicited, unagented submissions.
Might need some help Steph. I have written many essays and short real life snippets, in fact, I have enuf to put into a whole book but I don’t know what the heck to call all these stories!! Little snippets of true life stories, lots and lots of them. I don’t know who to submit to or how to go about all this.