Regret by Kate Chopin, 1895
The magic trick:
Using a very streamlined structure; never giving the reader more information than necessary
Not my favorite Chopin story, but I love the old-school structure. So simple. So clean.
She introduces the protagonist, giving the reader only information – characteristics and setting – that is pertinent to the events of this story. Then she introduces a conflict for the protagonist. Commence story. Streamlined, elegant, like a classic, if fairly standard-issue, 19th-century building. And that’s quite a trick on Chopin’s part.
MAMZELLE AURLIE possessed a good strong figure, ruddy cheeks, hair that was changing from brown to gray, and a determined eye. She wore a man’s hat about the farm, and an old blue army overcoat when it was cold, and sometimes top-boots.
Mamzelle Aurlie had never thought of marrying. She had never been in love. At the age of twenty she had received a proposal, which she had promptly declined, and at the age of fifty she had not yet lived to regret it.
Subscribe to the Short Story Magic Tricks Monthly Newsletter to get the latest short story news, contests and fun.