A short story.
It’s just a novel cut short right? Less developed themes and characters? Just take a novel, cut out the slow bits, speed up everything and BAM; the perfect short story.
Well, not exactly.
When writing a short story, the author has to be precise and concise in word choice and development, both of characters and themes. Because of this, short story authors often choose to leave out background details, instead beginning in the middle of all the action and developing an understanding of the characters through the plot itself. The author shows us who the characters are by leading them down different paths, giving them characteristics through the choices they make.
The author must also make concessions on the complexity of the plot. Instead of inundating the story with multiple, intersecting plot lines, both big and small, they must focus on one plot and develop that in the limited amount of pages they have. The plot in short stories, also tends to deal with more internal problems of the protagonist, as opposed to external conflicts.
When researching different genres, the short story stood out to me. For a short story every word counts, they can’t spend two chapters developing a character; instead they have to illustrate who the character is throughout the story and in small actions which add up.
This appeals to me because it seems similar to an essay, but with the arguments and ideas hidden in fictional characters and story-lines. This idea directly translates to what I want to do with my first experiment. When I was looking through my old papers, I found one I had written for my intro to psychology course on the Stanford Prison experiment. The goal of this essay was to critically analyze the faults, both ethical and moral, in the design of this experiment using knowledge from the textbook and lectures.
This immediately gave me an idea to write about the experiment through the eyes of a participant, an idea that was later improved upon by one of my classmates. They suggested I write from the perspective of both a prisoner and a guard. From their perspective, I plan to show the doubts and fears real participants must surely have experienced during the run of the experiment.
Through this experiment, I think I will gain a new perspective on how to formulate arguments and make the best use of what space I am allotted.