Hey all! It’s been a bit of a while since I’ve posted a discussion, so I’m glad to be writing again! This is one that I actually started thinking about a loooooong time ago (like, months ago), and it’s just been sitting in my drafts with one sentence written forever, but I decided to revisit it today! And it’s definitely a good time to revisit it in my opinion because now is definitely the time to be reading ACOFAS, which is basically a christmas story!
I was originally inspired to write this post after I read A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J Maas. It came out quite a while ago, but, if you can remember, there was quite a bit of buzz around it at the time. Everyone was expecting such great things, and then it just… wasn’t.
From what I could tell, the reviews were pretty polarized: either people loved it, or they hated it. While this isn’t uncommon for SJM, it was significant here because there were many people, myself included, who loved the trilogy, but hated this book, and that was because there was no plot. The whole book seemed to revolve around going shopping, getting ready for christmas, going shopping again, furnishing a house, etc, etc. There was certainly no climax or conflict, and it seemed to just drag on and on and on.
So that’s why the people like me disliked it. Yet there was an equally strong force of people saying things along the lines of it’s just a novella so it doesn’t need to have conflict, it’s short so it’s fine. Yet with all its lack of plot, it was somehow more than 200 pages long! For reference, that’s longer than Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone!
So this is where the argument that it’s short starts to crumble in my eyes. Because if books need to be longer to have a plot, and short books don’t need one, than how come Harry managed to find out he was a wizard, attend classes, befriend Ron and Hermione, play quidditch, pass a series of obstacles to get to the philosopher’s stone, retrieve it, and defeat Quirrell/Voldemort in less time than it took Feyre to go shopping five times?
Still, I do see where the argument is coming from in some occasions. Some shorter stories I’ve read really don’t have much of a plot. But, those are mostly very very short stories, part of anthologies or tucked away as bonus in the back of a special edition book, not full 200+ page novellas sold by themselves.
So in conclusion, I feel that novellas, or anything sold by itself, should certainly have a significant plot, character development, action, conflict, etc. Otherwise, it ends up seeming like a needless cash grab, something that only Sarah J Maas could get away with, and leaves me feeling like I wasted my time. Thank god I read ACOFAS from the library instead of spending money on it!
Do you think that novellas need plot? Did you enjoy A Court of Frost and Starlight? I’d love to chat in the comments below 🙂