Short stories

Short Story Classified by Charles R. Barrett

books-1141910_1920I’m reading one of the best books about short stories, A Practical Treatise on the Art of the Short Story by Charles Raymond Barrett. And since I’m such a good Frog I decided to share my notes, little pieces of amazing information taken from this book.

Today we have Charles Raymond Barrett’s classification of Short Story types. This is just a summary of the huge amount of information you can take from the book. Oh and I forgot to say… the book is free, just go to this link A Practical Treatise on the Art of the Short Story and download.

He divides the Short Story in 9 main types:

  • The Tale: “he relation, in an interesting and literary form, of some simple incident or stirring fact. It has no plot in the sense that there is any problem to unravel, or any change in the relation of the characters”


  • The Moral Story: “Its avowed purpose is to preach, and, as ordinarily written, preach it does in the most determined way. Its plot is usually just sufficient to introduce the moral.”
    • Subtypes: The Fable, The Story with a Moral, The Allegory;


  • The Weird Story: “It may have a definite plot in which supernatural beings are actors; but more often it is slight in plot, but contains a careful psychological study of some of the less pleasant emotions.”
    • Subtypes: The Ghost Story, The Fantastic Tale, The Study in Horror;


  • The Character Study: “the chief interest rests in the development and exposition of human character.”
    • Subtypes: Character Sketch (character is inative), Character Study (character is active);


  • The Dialect Story: “Its chief distinction is that it is written in the broken English used by the uneducated classes of our own country, and by foreigners.”


  • The Parable of the Times: “(…) aims to present a vivid picture of our own times, either to criticise some existing evil, or to entertain by telling us something of how “the other half” of the world lives.”
    • Subtypes: The Instructive Story, Story of To-day;


  • The Story of Ingenuity: “It might be called the “fairy tale of the grown-up,” for its interest depends entirely upon its appeal to the love for the marvelous which no human being ever outgrows.”
    • Subtypes: The Story of Wonder, The Detective Story;


  • The Humorous Story: “(…) these stories are the freest of all in their disregard for conventions; with them it is “anything to raise a laugh,” and the end is supposed to justify the means.”
    • Subtypes: Nonsense Story, The Burlesque;


  • The Dramatic Story: “It requires a definite but simple plot, which enables the characters to act out their parts. In its perfect form it is the “bit of real life” which it is the aim of the short story to present.”
    • “Dramatic Form when the author’s necessary comments correspond to the stage directions of the drama. Such a story is, in fact, a miniature drama, and is often capable of being acted just as it stands.”
    • “Dramatic Effect when it deals with a single crisis, conveys a single impression, is presented chiefly by the actors themselves, and culminates in a single, perfect climax.”

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