In this assignment, you will write an original short story about a protagonist (the main character) who experiences an event that is meaningful in the arc of his or her life. In this, it may be helpful to think of the short story as basically just like our CNF assignment, but with one important difference: it’s fictional. Like the CNF story, this short story will be about a “moment of change” for the protagonist that alters the course of his or her life. Both stories are essentially structured the same way around one specific event, and they draw upon the same skills (except that the short story does not have to be in the first person). As you approach the story, start by thinking about your characters: work on making them as complex and interesting as real people. Then ask yourself: what do they want? What might get in the way of what they want? How might that conflict create a “moment of change” for your protagonist?
Although fictional, the short story should seem just as realistic as the CNF story did. The CNF story was a dry run at using characterization, description, and dialogue to make an experience come alive; now all you have to do is invent an experience. To do that, it can be helpful to start with brainstorming about the character, asking yourself what the character wants and what kinds of people, events, or things—antagonists–might get in the way of that. As in the CNF, you’ll want to include any necessary past information and events as backstory and/or flashback.
Point of view: Unlike in CNF, where you wrote in the first person from your own point of view, this assignment offers you some choices about who will tell the story. Please choose either the first person, where a character in the story narrates from an “I” point of view or third-person limited omniscient, where the story uses the third person (he, she, etc.) but follows the thoughts of only one character. Some writers use the second-person (you), but that is generally seen as a gimmick. Writers often use third-person omniscient in longer pieces such as novels, but in a story this short, that can introduce problems with “ping-ponging” between characters’ perspectives. For our purposes here, you should stick to following one character either in the first person or the third person.