When analyzing short stories, it is useful to know what a short story is defined by. Annemette Hejlstede has defined in the book The Novel – Theory and Analysis (Samfundslitteratur, 2016) as a fictional narrative in which an event or situation calls into question what was otherwise normal and familiar to the central person (s). A short story has a very limited number of people and is structured around a single course of events: the story typically deals with a single central event that creates a change or just a start of a change. The central person of the short story starts in one position at the beginning of the short story, but the central event, as a minimum, creates the basis for a change in the person – sometimes the change is also depicted.

Based on that definition, it becomes clear what the methodological analytical work can focus on: the central people and the impact of the event. Especially the person (s) who change the event are interesting. What characterizes the central person (s) at the beginning of the novel? What is the change – what will be different? The key, therefore, is almost always the persons. Typically, conflicts or contradictions are central; it is demos creating or showing the change. Sometimes the environment is also most important to deal with analytically.

The statement can be understood as the picture of life or the theme established by the text. What overall point and picture of life does the text present?

The textual analysis of neo-criticism is typically unfolded by a layer model, where the lower layer provides a background for points on the middle layer, where one finds personal characteristics, environmental characteristics and contradictions and conflicts. This layer points to the overall level: the theme or the statement. It is also at this level that the narrative attitude is placed, for example when we work with short stories that have an implicit narrator (more on this below).

Below is a model showing the different layers and what they contain. Of course, it is important to analyze only those parts of the model that have a bearing on the statements of the text. If the environment does not play a significant role in the statements of the text, there is no need to work analytically with it. Therefore, select the areas of the model that are essential to show what the statements are and how the statements are established. Under the model is an unfolding of the most important elements.



The narrator is the body that tells the action. The narrator can be decoded by seeing from what is being told. If it is I who tell, it is a self-narrator.

I am telling. 1.person-telling. The narrator may be credible or untrustworthy. Because the self-narrator reproduces the action, we experience the action from the self-narrator’s point of view, and that means that the action is colored by the self-narrator’s experience. We can therefore often characterize the self-narrator and analyze how the self-narrator experiences an action.

The self-narrator can be untrustworthy. In some texts it is central for the self-narrator to lie to us – and then it becomes essential for the analytical work to have the narrator revealed. When an ego narrator gets caught up in being untrustworthy, it’s because an implicit narrator reveals the ego narrator.

implicit narrator: The implicit narrator is neither the author nor the explicit narrator of the text. But it is the voice / attitude that creates the light / mood in which the text is read. The implicit narrator controls and decides what the characters do and why, and it also controls what the explicit narrator must tell. In the movie “Forrest Gump” there is a first-person narrator, but it is the film’s implicit narrator who reveals to the viewer that there are no teams in Forrest Gump’s interpretation of his own life story – parts of it are pure fantasy. Forrest Gump doesn’t tell us it himself, but the movie tells us it’s fantasy, in that it appeals to the viewer to compare Forrest Gump’s narrative with reality, thereby revealing Forrest Gump as untrustworthy (but a sweet and nice human being).

With a third-person narrator, the action is reproduced by a narrator instance that is not itself part of the action, as the self-narrator is. The third person narrator can be identified by representing persons with ‘he’, ‘she’, ‘they’ – ie in the third person. There are different types of third-person narrator, and the difference between them is how much information the narrator gives the reader access to.

The observant 3rd person narrator has an objective representation of events with an outside view. This means that the narrator is like a camera that simply records the action, and therefore the reader does not gain access to the thoughts of persons, but merely their actions.

The omniscient 3rd person narrator gives the reader insight into the thoughts of people, and their past – and maybe even future. Thus, it is a narrator that gives the reader a lot of information about the persons that the observing narrator does not give access to.

The personalized third person narrator is a narrator who gives access to a single person’s thoughts. It is similar to the self-narrator’s point of view, but it is not the person himself who tells (as an self-narrator), but a narrator outside the person who tells about the person from the outside in the form of ‘he’ or ‘she’.

The narrator’s point of view describes how much the narrator has access to the characters. If the narrator has access to the thoughts and feelings of persons in the text, the narrator has an inside view. So can the self-narrator, 3rd person omniscient and 3rd person person-bound narrator. Opposition is outside vision where the narrator only begets what can be seen with the naked eye. A third person observing narrator typically only has an outside view. And the self-narrator usually also only has an outside view of others.

The different types of narrators also have different options for time angles in the text. A narrator can use flash backs to tell about things that precede the time being told. Conversely, the narrator may also have flash forwards and may anticipate something that does not happen in the action now. When using mindfulness, the narrator merely tells what happens while it is happening, while a reproduction of an act that has passed away and is back in time compared to now is told with a backward view. The difference between using rearview and flash backs is that flash backs are short glimpses of time compared to now, told with compassion, while there is backward vision when all or much of the story is told after the action is completed. It is typical of the third person observing tell to only use mindfulness.


Two general categories are given for a characteristic of the manufacture. The panoramic and the scenic. Crucial to understanding the two types of making is an understanding of the relationship between narrative time and narrative time. Told time is the time that an action in a narrative extends. Telling time is the time it takes to tell the action. If you tell a story that spans a time span of four years (narrated time) and it only takes three minutes to tell the story (narrative time), then the text has a high tempo and you don’t reach as many details, but gets pointed to some main features. In such a case, it is a panoramic representation. As a camera, you pan over a period of time, and there is no time for you to dwell on details, describe the surroundings and moods or reproduce the dialogues thoroughly. You get an overview of a development with some individual impacts in the process that play a special role.

On the contrary, the scenic presentation is characterized by a low narrative tempo, as the narrative time is closer to the narrative time, and one may also find that it takes longer to tell the story (narrative time) than the time in which the action takes place (narrated time). ). The reader encounters a specific scene as in a movie or drama, and is presented with descriptions of surroundings, attire, sounds and / or scents, and the dialogues between the characters are reproduced so that everything comes along. And all that takes time to tell.


  • Inner Composition: Logical (time) sequence – first it happened, then that happened
  • outer composition: The order of the text – the order in which the events occur in the text
  • Chronological structure: the events of the narrative come in the same order as they occurred in time (outer composition fits the inner composition)
  • In media res: we jump right into the action
  • Circular structure: the narrative ends in the same place that the narrative started

Framework: An overall story that outlines, for example, that some people sit and need to tell different stories. It is thus a narrative in which one or more other narratives form part of a subordinate level, where the frame narrative is the overall level.

Rendering of dialogue

Direct speech: Here the dialogues are reproduced directly: “What time is it?”. Quotes are used here.

Indirect speech: Here the dialogues are reproduced indirectly: He asked what time it was. Quotes are not used here, but it is stated that one says something.

Covered direct speech: No quotation marks or any indication that someone is saying anything. So here is something that one has said rather hidden, but it can be seen through the word choice that it is something one has said. Here’s the first part of the quote covered by direct speech: “Where had he been, though? She didn’t quite understand it.”

Inner Monologue: We are inside a person’s head and follow that person’s thoughts, as if it were a monologue.

Narrator Comments: The narrator appears in the narrative and makes his own comments

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