The term ‘short story’ did not appear in an English dictionary until 1933. The form is difficult to define. The short story comes in many shapes and sizes. Short stories are usually restricted in time, place and number of characters. Some stories move towards a single ascending dramatic scene or revelation which is generated by conflict. Joyce Carol Oates’s definition of the short story is a useful one:
It represents a concentration of imagination and not an expansion; it is no more than 10,000 words; and no matter its mysteries or experimental properties, it achieves closure — meaning that when it ends, the attentive reader understands why.