Short stories are a form of literature, one that generally encapsulates a single episode or self-contained incident with a smaller cast of characters. In many ways, writers of short stories employ many of the same devices as that of the novel, but are not as long. Modern definitions of the short story place its length between 1000 and 20,000 words. Short stories are not, however, any less complex or compelling in the hands of a skilled writer.
The short story, as a form of literature, developed in the 17th century. Many of the great American writers of the early 19th century wrote short stories, including Edgar Allan Poe, Nathanial Hawthorne, and Washington Irving. In that century and through the middle of the 20th century, the length of short stories provided a concise form of literature to be included in magazines and periodicals. William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Ernest Hemingway created numerous famous short stories. The writing of short stories is not simply limited to American writers. Anton Chekhov, Leo Tolstoy, and Ivan Turgenev all wrote short stories in Russian. Franz Kafka also wrote short stories.
Much classic genre writing, especially science fiction, occurred in short stories, with the works of Arthur C. Clarke or Isaac Asimov largely appearing in pulp magazines. Short stories continue to be a major part of literature. Often they are collected into anthologies, of single or multiple authors.