Plot is an element of fiction that consists of the stages of action leading up to the climax of the story. A short story does not afford the writer much time to develop an elaborate plot. A short story plot is rather simple and can be analyzed by following a few steps.
List the events. A short story usually has one main character around whom all the action takes place. Your list of events for any short story will probably consist of the movements of the main character. Also make note of mental or emotional events that take place with respect to the main character, such as he learned how his mother died, he understood why his mother left him, and he stopped feeling sad.
Create a timeline. Take your list of events and put them in chronological order. Sometimes a short story begins with a flashback, in which case the events of the story are presented out of order. Arrange your list of events in chronological order, even if that isn’t the order in which they took place in the story.
Identify the conflict. Conflict is what compels the reader to continue reading, so all well-written short stories have a conflict. It may be as obvious as a struggle between two characters in the story, or it can be subtle, like the main character’s internal struggle to decide what is right. Identifying the conflict will help you understand the plot, since the plot is the main character’s journey toward resolving the conflict.
Find the climax. The climax of a short story happens when the tension heightens just before the conflict is resolved. In a mystery, for example, the climax is just before you find out who the killer is. The climax of a short story takes place shortly before the end of the story. After the climax, the writer ties up the loose ends and the story is over.