How to Write a Good Short Story Analysis

How to Write a Good Short Story Analysis

When it comes to analyzing a short story, it takes more than just reading the text. To truly understand the literary work and its deeper meanings, you need to put your analytical thinking skills to use. Whether you’re analyzing a classic novel or a contemporary short story, the process is the same. In this step-by-step guide, we will walk you through the process of writing a good short story analysis.

1. Understand the Assignment: Before you start analyzing the story, make sure you fully understand the assignment. Read it carefully, and if there’s anything you don’t understand, don’t hesitate to ask your instructor for clarification. Knowing the requirements and expectations will help you frame your analysis in the right way.

2. Read the Story Multiple Times: To grasp all the details and nuances of the story, read it more than once. Each time you read, focus on a different aspect of the story. Pay attention to the plot, character development, conflict, climax, and resolution. This will help you identify the key elements that drive the narrative forward.

3. Take Notes: As you read, jot down any ideas or insights that come to mind. This will help you organize your thoughts and have a clear understanding of what you want to convey in your analysis. Highlight significant passages, interesting language use, or moments that stood out to you. These notes will be invaluable when you sit down to write your analysis.

4. Analyze the Story: Now it’s time to dig deeper and analyze the story. Start by examining the narrator’s point of view and how it relates to the events in the story. Consider the author’s style and the language they use to convey their message. Look for any symbolism or literary devices that enhance the story’s meaning. Pay attention to the conflicts and the development of the characters.

5. Interpret the Story: After analyzing the story, interpret its meaning. What themes or messages is the author trying to convey? How do the characters and their actions contribute to the overall meaning of the story? Your interpretation should be supported by evidence from the text. Be sure to explain your viewpoint clearly and convincingly.

Remember, when writing a short story analysis, it’s essential to maintain a plagiarism-free approach. Always acknowledge your sources and give credit to the author’s ideas. Make sure to check your work for grammar and spelling errors before submitting. By following these steps, you will be able to write a compelling and insightful short story analysis that will impress your instructor and future readers.

Analyzing the Point of View

For example, in the short story “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson, the narrator is a third-person limited omniscient narrator. This means that the narrator is not a character in the story, but has access to the thoughts and feelings of a single character, in this case, Tessie Hutchinson. By reviewing the story from Tessie’s point of view, we can better understand her thoughts and motivations throughout the plot.

When analyzing the point of view in a short story, it’s important to review how the narrator’s perspective affects the reader’s experience. This can include examining the narrator’s reliability, biases, and the way they present information. It’s also useful to consider how the point of view contributes to the overall themes and messages of the story.

To provide an effective analysis of the point of view, it’s helpful to focus on the following points:

  1. Identify the type of narrator used in the story (first-person, third-person, etc.) and explain the significance of this choice for the narrative structure.
  2. Analyze how the chosen point of view limits or enhances the reader’s understanding of the events and characters in the story.
  3. Discuss the role of the narrator in shaping the reader’s perception of the story’s themes and messages.
  4. Examine the narrator’s reliability and any biases that may influence their storytelling.
  5. Provide examples from the text to support your arguments and point out key moments where the point of view becomes particularly important.

Understanding the Purpose and Importance

By analyzing a short story, you are able to gain a deeper understanding of the author’s ideas, arguments, and values. It helps you frame your own interpretation of the story and explore the different layers of meaning that the author may have intended.

One of the major goals of analyzing a short story is to uncover the themes and messages that the author is trying to convey. This can be done by looking at the characters, setting, plot, and language used in the story. By examining these elements in detail, you can piece together the author’s intentions and how they contribute to the overall theme.

Another important aspect of analyzing a short story is identifying the literary techniques used by the author. This can include things like symbolism, foreshadowing, irony, and the use of dialogue. By recognizing these techniques and understanding how they function within the story, you can gain a deeper appreciation for the author’s skill and creativity.

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Once you have read and taken notes on the short story, you can begin the process of analyzing it in more detail. This involves breaking down the story into smaller paragraphs or sections and examining each one individually. Look for key themes, character development, and other important elements that contribute to the overall meaning of the story.

In your analysis, it’s important to be clear and persuasive in your arguments. Use examples from the text to support your points and provide evidence for your interpretations. However, it’s important to always acknowledge the limitations of your analysis and avoid making sweeping generalizations.

Step 2: Choosing a Short Story

When selecting a short story, consider what you want to accomplish with your analysis. Are you looking to examine the development of the plot, the style and literary techniques used by the writer, or the characterization of the main characters? By knowing what you want to focus on, you can find a short story that contains the necessary elements to support your analysis.

It’s also important to choose a short story that you enjoy reading and that resonates with you. If you’re not interested in the story, it will be difficult to stay motivated and write a compelling analysis. Remember, you will be spending a lot of time with this short story, so make sure it’s one that you genuinely like.

Consider the Context and Timeframe

Take Notes and Analyze

Before diving into the analysis, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the short story. Read it carefully and take notes on the key plot points, characters, settings, and any significant details. These notes will serve as a valuable resource when you start writing your analysis, helping you to remember important details and organize your thoughts.

When analyzing the short story, consider how the plot unfolds and reaches its climax. Look for examples of the writer’s style and literary techniques, such as symbolism, foreshadowing, or narrative structure. Pay attention to the development of the characters, their motivations and conflicts, and the role they play in the story. Also, consider the settings and how they contribute to the overall mood and atmosphere.

By considering all these elements and taking detailed notes, you will be equipped to write a well-structured and insightful analysis of the short story you have chosen.

Selecting a Suitable Piece for Analysis

1. Know what you want: Before you start looking for a short story to analyze, it’s important to have a clear idea of what you want to explore or understand. Do you want to focus on the theme, the characters, the setting, the conflict, or the literary devices used in the story?

2. Check the length: Short stories come in various lengths, so it’s important to consider the time and effort you’re willing to put into analyzing the piece. If you’re limited on time, it might be best to choose a shorter story that can be analyzed effectively within the given constraints.

4. Take notes as you read: While reading the story, be sure to jot down any important details, observations, or ideas that come to mind. These notes will be useful when it comes to analyzing and interpreting the story’s major themes, characters, and conflicts.

5. Look for irony and narrative techniques: Irony and narrative techniques such as unreliable narrators or shifts in perspective can add depth to a short story and make it more interesting to analyze. Keep an eye out for these elements while reading and take note of how they contribute to the story’s overall meaning.

6. Choose a story that resonates with you: Select a story that speaks to you on a personal level or that you find intriguing. Analyzing a story that you’re genuinely interested in will make the writing process more enjoyable and persuasive.

By following these steps, you’ll be able to select a suitable short story for analysis and ensure that your analysis is focused, insightful, and well-supported. Remember to always read the story carefully, take detailed notes, and think critically about the story’s themes and messages. Happy analyzing!

Step 3: Breaking Down the Elements

1. Characters and Settings

Take note of the main characters in the story and their roles. Pay attention to their actions, thoughts, and motivations. Consider how the characters interact with each other and how they contribute to the overall plot. Also, analyze the settings of the story and their significance to the events that unfold.

2. Plot and Sequence

Examine the plotline of the story and the sequence of events. Identify the main conflict or problem, the rising action, the climax, and the resolution. Take notes on how the author develops the plot and keeps the reader engaged. Look for any foreshadowing or unexpected plot twists that add depth to the story.

3. Themes and Literary Devices

Analyze the themes present in the story and how they are conveyed through the author’s language and literary devices. Look for recurring symbols, metaphors, and imagery that contribute to the overall meaning. Take note of any persuasive or intelligent language used by the author to convey their message.

4. Structure and Language

Consider the structure of the story and how it contributes to the overall flow. Look for any unique or experimental writing techniques that the author has used. Analyze the language and writing style, paying attention to the tone, point of view, and narrative voice. Take note of any quoted passages or dialogue that are particularly impactful.

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5. Themes and Analysis

Compile a list of the themes you have identified and analyze how they are explored in the story. Discuss the author’s message and the underlying ideas they are trying to convey. Support your analysis with quotes from the story and provide explanations and interpretations of their significance.

Remember to always check your work for grammar and plagiarism. Your analysis should be original and plagiarism-free. Use the instructions and tips provided by your assignment to stay focused and organized. Structure your analysis in a logical and cohesive way, grouping ideas and arguments together. Think about what the reader needs to understand and enjoy the story, and put yourself in their shoes.

Once you’ve completed this step, you’ll be ready to move on to the next stage: writing the actual analysis. But before you start writing, it’s always a good idea to create an outline first. This will help you organize your thoughts and ensure that your analysis is coherent and well-developed.

Break down your analysis into sections, focusing on each element you have identified. Provide examples and evidence from the story to support your points. Remember to consider different perspectives and interpretations, as there may be more than one way to analyze a short story.

The key to a successful short story analysis is to have a clear understanding of the story, break down its elements, and provide thoughtful and insightful analysis. With these steps and guidelines in mind, you’ll be well-equipped to write an engaging and meaningful analysis of any short story.

Identifying and Analyzing the Plot, Characters, and Themes

To identify the plot, start by reading the story carefully and paying attention to the sequence of events. Take note of where the story takes place, the time it spans, and the major events that occur. This will give you a good understanding of the overall structure of the story.

Next, focus on the characters. Who are the main characters and what are their roles in the story? How are they portrayed by the writer? Look for details such as physical descriptions, dialogue, and character motivations. These will help you in your analysis of the characters’ actions and their impact on the plot.

Themes are the underlying messages or values that the author wants to convey through the story. They are often universal and can be found in various works of literature. Look for recurring ideas, symbols, or motifs that appear throughout the story. These can give you insight into the author’s view of the world and the central ideas they are exploring.

To analyze these elements, you’ll want to go beyond a basic summary of the plot, characters, and themes. Instead, focus on interpreting their significance and the way they are used in the story. Look for patterns, contradictions, and differences between characters and themes.

One of the most important steps in writing a good short story analysis is to develop a thesis statement. This will serve as the main argument or central idea of your analysis. It should be a persuasive statement that takes a clear stance on the meaning of the story and includes specific references to the plot, characters, and themes.

In your analysis, you should provide evidence from the text to support your arguments. This can include quotes or specific examples that highlight key moments in the story. Be sure to cite your sources correctly and avoid plagiarism.

When writing your analysis, keep in mind that it is not just a summary of the story. You want to demonstrate your understanding of the story’s deeper meanings and explore the writer’s techniques and choices. Use a logical and analytical approach to present your ideas in a clear and organized manner.

As a writer, it’s always a good idea to start with an outline. This will help you structure your analysis and ensure that you cover all the necessary points. Start by creating a detailed outline that lists the main sections and sub-sections of your analysis.

In each paragraph, focus on a specific aspect of the plot, characters, or themes. Provide detailed explanations and analysis that support your thesis statement. Use quotes and examples from the story to back up your claims.

Remember to pay attention to the language used in the story. Consider how the writer’s choice of words, sentence structure, and writing style contribute to the overall effect of the story. This can give you valuable insights into the author’s intentions and the themes they are exploring.


What is the purpose of a short story analysis?

The purpose of a short story analysis is to critically examine and interpret a short story in order to understand its themes, symbols, and literary techniques used by the author. This analysis helps readers gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of the story.

What are the steps to write a good short story analysis?

To write a good short story analysis, follow these steps: read the story multiple times, take notes on important details, analyze the characters, identify the story’s themes and symbols, consider the author’s writing style, and finally, write an organized and well-supported analysis.

What should I consider when analyzing the characters in a short story?

When analyzing the characters in a short story, consider their traits, motivations, and relationships with other characters. Pay attention to their actions and dialogue, and evaluate their significance in relation to the story’s plot and themes.

How important is the author’s writing style in a short story analysis?

The author’s writing style is an important aspect to consider in a short story analysis. It includes elements such as the tone, point of view, and language used by the author. These stylistic choices contribute to the overall meaning and impact of the story.

What should I focus on when discussing the themes and symbols in a short story analysis?

When discussing the themes and symbols in a short story analysis, focus on their significance and how they contribute to the story’s overall meaning. Consider the author’s intent in using these themes and symbols, and discuss the ways in which they are developed and connected throughout the story.

Alex Koliada, PhD

By Alex Koliada, PhD

Alex Koliada, PhD, is a well-known doctor. He is famous for studying aging, genetics, and other medical conditions. He works at the Institute of Food Biotechnology and Genomics. His scientific research has been published in the most reputable international magazines. Alex holds a BA in English and Comparative Literature from the University of Southern California, and a TEFL certification from The Boston Language Institute.