What are Literary Magazines Looking for? Why, Anagnorisis, of course!
In order for a short story to be effective, there has to be believable motivations and dialogue, a plot with difficulties, complications, climax and a resolution, a well-chosen point of view, forward momentum, and effective characterization. But what is characterization? Characterization means developing a character in a reader’s mind, and this is how the reader identifies with the character. It is done through dialogue, through description of the character by others (a good example is ‘Waiting for Godot’ by Samuel Beckett), and through character thoughts and actions. Stock or stereotypical characters should be avoided, and the character should develop in some way during the course of the story. This change is fundamental to most short stories. The main character realizes something about himself of herself that they didn’t know before (“anagnorisis” is the term!) At the end of the story, this realization must be accompanied by some real-life action in order to solidify the change in the reader’s mind.
Christopher Canniff, Author of Abundance of the Infinite