Saturday, September 6, 2008

Short Stories

I want to thank our first presenters, first of all!  Kristin and Jordan, you both did a great job.  OK, so here's a new discussion topic for all of us.  In your opinion, what is the most important feature of a short story: plot, character(s), setting, or the ever-abstract "theme"?  Can a short story be a short story without characters?  Without a setting?  Are there any other important standard aspects of a short story beyond, or not contained within, these four elements?

7 comments:

Joe said...

While I think the most important feature varies upon what you wish to accomplish I think, in general, theme would be most important. Due to the fact that the author such a short length/ time frame to accomplish his point, character development, which often takes too much time, as well as setting are overlooked for the greater idea. This was seen in the pieces that both presenters spoke on. Neither relied heavily on the involvement of any of these concepts, but both sought to clearly define some moral/ social et cetera, lesson.

Hmmalbq said...

Like Joe, I think that the "most important element" depends on what the author wishes to accomplish. I also believe that it would be very difficult to have a short story without characters. There will always be a character, even if the only character is the narrator. On the other hand, I do believe that a story need not have a setting to be a short story. Once again it is very hard to create a story without giving hints to where or when it is set, but I do think that it is possible.

--Heather

lupine-lunacy said...

I think the most important aspect is either the plot, characters, or theme. Settings in short stories tend to not have an impact on its reception. Which of the more critical three is most important depends on what the author is trying to convey. Plot is usually important in historical short stories. Characters can make people relate to and enjoy the story. That can sometimes be the difference between a good story and a bad one. Theme tends to play a big part in stories about morality and the like. Although it would be kind of odd, a story can be made without characters. That would be the kind of story where setting may be important. Plenty of stories lack a setting. In those, the importance of characters, theme, and plot are magnified exponentially. Outside of those four component, an aspect sometimes overlooked is overall feel. Feel is affected by diction, sentence structure, and a medley of other things. Without a feel that complements the other components, an otherwise intriguing story can turn dull and ineffective.

-Matt Pryor

rmurray said...

Theme, though an abstract idea, is what makes the short story more than just a newspaper article. News contains a plot, characters, and a setting, but never a theme. I have never read a short story without characters, but it is possible to write a story without a setting or a plot. However, a story without a plot or a setting probably wont be much of a story. I am also suggesting that style is an important aspect of the short story, helping give the story more impact.

-Roy Murray

AshleyR said...

Theme is definitely the most important because it is what ties everything else together. The characters, the setting, etc. mean nothing without the theme. Theme, yes, is built on the other elements but it is the sole element that ties everything together to make up the story.

aunorsjet said...

I suppose a short story could technically be a short story without things like characters or settings, but honestly, I haven't run into any of those. A short story, in my opinion, is closer to a poem than to a novel etc. in that it tends to, in general (yes, there are exceptions to this generalization. disclaimer, or whatever) capture one moment in time or one idea or one era or one whatever. There isn't much if any character or setting development (unless, of course, the short story is specifically about a person or place) because there is a bigger idea to convey, and only so many words to convey them in (as short stories tend to be, well, short).

-Aaron Bentley

james said...

I have always felt that the characters of a short story really make the most difference in how good the story is. Much of the time the characters can only be as well-crafted as the author wishes them to be. So without a thorough description of the characters and their thoughts, I feel that a short story can have little impact on myself. I like to know the thoughts, feelings, beliefs, emotions, and even memories of the main characters. While these things do not have to be told to me directly, I do feel that it is helpful to be able to establish all or many of these traits. If I am given all of this information I usually feel more like I have met or know these characters.