In a short story there are characteristics that are central to making it a successful story. Two of the main features that make a story enjoyable are a captivating and interesting plot and the focus of a story on a single character. These two features are essential to a good story for two reasons, an interesting plot makes for an engaging read and the development of one main character gives the reader a chance to experience a more life-like, revealing look into a characters’ life. A captivating and interesting plot is one main feature of any story that makes it a success.
In Alice Munroe’s “Royal Beatings,” the reader is almost immediately captivated by the first line, “Royal beating. That was Flo’s promise. ” This first line draws the reader into the story with a hint of what is to come. A fascinating plot consists of some tension, and a climax. In “Royal Beatings,” there is tension in the events that build up to the climax, the scene in which Rose gets her “royal beating” from her father. What also made “Royal Beatings” interesting was the relationship between Rose and her stepmother and Rose and her two daughters.
The reader gets an impression of Rose’s relationship with Flo in her early life, “There was a long truce between Flo and Rose in the beginning. Rose’s nature was growing like a prickly pineapple, but slowly, and secretly, hard pride and skepticism overlapping, to make something surprising even to herself. ” Later when Rose is a mother herself she thinks about her own parenting skills, “We disliked the heavy, the uninventive, approach to being parents. I had a dread of turning into a certain kind of mother…” The relationships in Rose’s life and her own self-reflection make for an interesting plot.
Another feature of a satisfying story is character development focusing on a single character. Although a short story has several characters that support the story, the development of a main character makes it successful. In Munroe’s “Royal Beatings,” Rose is the main character and early in the story the reader learns of her distinct personality. “Rose had a need to picture things, to pursue absurdities, that was stronger than the need to stay out of trouble. ” With the development of a single character it gives the reader a chance to understand how that character feels throughout the story.
As in “Royal Beatings,” Rose’s personality and her need to picture things, continues into her adult life as she still thinks similarly as she did as a child. “There’s something trashy about this kind of imagining, isn’t there? Something shameful…” The development of Rose’s character throughout the story makes her a more convincing, relatable person in the story. A captivating plot and the development of one main character are significant to a story in that the reader develops a connection to the story and is allowed a glimpse into the events of a character’s life both before and after the main climax of the story.