What do you <3 or hate about short stories?

Every form of fiction has its benefits and its drawbacks. I’d like to explore each kind one at a time. In my previous pros/cons post I wrote about novels. Feel free to add your thoughts to the discussion there.

But what about other forms of fiction? They have different benefits and drawbacks of their own, along with the shared features of novels.

Short Stories

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Benefits:

  • They are short.  🙂  Short stories are perfect for those afternoon breaks when you have only a few minutes to yourself, but you really need to escape.
  • Many times they come in collections of other short stories, giving you many different worlds to experience in one sitting.
  • They interface with your imagination.  🙂  You get no pictures (or few, usually), and you aren’t actually involved in the story, but you get to take what you read and make it real for you.
  • You can read them any time you’re free of distractions.
  • Other benefits?

Drawbacks:

  • They are short.  🙂  If you want to explore a world in depth with subplots and secondary characters, you’re not going to get much chance here.
  • Endings, often done as “twists” or abrupt conclusions, can be difficult to create and sometimes difficult to believe.
  • They can’t show you anything that you can’t imagine. If the author fails to explain approximately how large the monster is, then the reader either has to make that part up or feel lost.
  • It can be difficult to enjoy them when there are noisy people nearby.
  • Other drawbacks?

What else?

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4 responses to “What do you <3 or hate about short stories?

  1. Short stories distill your message/moral/point down to its most relevant bits. It’s like an anecdote compared to a treatise. You get across an example of your idea, as opposed to developing it completely. The symbolism is concentrated for better effect, which is nice.

  2. I agree with Mike. Short stories can force the writer to cut out all extraneous words–and even thoughts. The result is often uniquely effective. Think of “The Lottery” as a novel, for instance. Or “The Monkey’s Paw,” or “The Gift of the Magi.” They couldn’t possibly have had the same power, do you think?

  3. Good points, Mike and Kathleen! I often hear people say, “This short story is so good it could be turned into a novel.” In my opinion most short stories are short because they work better that way.

  4. Pingback: What do you love or hate about plays? | Irene L. Pynn's Blog

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