Rob from RobAroundBooks is a big fan of short stories, and was disappointed to learn that I don’t like them. He suggested I try The Necklace by Guy de Maupassant, claiming it would “touch my heart and soul”. I happened to have a copy in the house and so had no reason to refuse his suggestion – especially since The Necklace is only 8 pages long! If you’d like to read the story for yourself then just follow the link at the beginning of the post.
Unfortunately The Necklace didn’t come close to “touching my heart and soul.” It only confirmed all the major problems I have with short stories.
Let me explain the problems I had with this story by working through the plot.
- Couple receive invitation to a party. It’s all going well so far.
- Woman whinges about how she has nothing to wear. I’m beginning to go off it.
- Woman begs husband for lots of money to buy a new dress and the husband gives in. The plot continues to cause me minor irritation.
- The woman then begins to moan about not having any jewelry to wear for the night out. I become increasingly irritated by her shallowness.
- They decide to borrow a necklace from a friend. Can you guess what happens next?
- She loses the necklace. You see with a short story there is no time for the plot to develop properly – you can see everything coming a mile off.
- Instead of owning up to losing it she buys another one, ruining 10 years of her life to pay it off. Do they not have any insurance?
- It turns out the necklace was a fake, so she has wasted all that time/money on nothing. Stupid woman. I have no sympathy at all.
The problem with short stories is that there is no time for any proper character development. To enjoy reading something I need to become emotionally involved with them. The characters in short stories almost always come across as shallow individuals. This is because there isn’t the time to allow all sides of their character to be revealed. In just a few pages it isn’t possible to show all their flaws and explain the history behind them.
The plot in a short story is always very simple. I can normally see it coming a mile away. I like my plots to be complex and preferably surprising too.
Sorry Rob! This one just didn’t do it for me!
Do you have similar problems with short stories?
Did you enjoy The Necklace?