1. colorthemap
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    colorthemap Contributing Member

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    Condensing ideas to a short story

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by colorthemap, Oct 30, 2011.

    Basically how can I make my novel length ideas a short story?
     
  2. Summer
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    Short stories can be a very wide variety of lengths, so these are just ideas on how to shorten a "story".

    Most the time the general plot (leaving out details) can be summarized very concisely. What makes a story take a long time are making those important plot points believable, creating an attachment to the characters, expressing themes, etc.
    What can you do?
    • less characters
    • use more archetypal secondary characters
    • less complex themes
    • little to no "subplots"
    • start fast! lots of novels take a long time to get to the conflict
     
  3. colorthemap
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    colorthemap Contributing Member

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    Good ideas, I might also just tell ONE story from one that would be a combination of all.

    Like a puzzle.

    (Oh and didn't know this form had a list feature, lol thanks for that)
     
  4. Lightman
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    Lightman Active Member

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    I don't think you should reduce the ideas of a novel to a short story. A short story is not a reader's digest version of a novel; it's focused in a way that a novel can't afford to be. It's an entirely different animal.
     
  5. colorthemap
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    colorthemap Contributing Member

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    That's why I think I have to tell a smaller story.
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    yes, you do... but you can take one aspect of the novel concept and work it into a short story...
     
  7. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I agree with Lightman and mamma. You shouldn't try to condense a novel into a short-story length. They are very different things.

    But, as mamma pointed out, sections of a novel can, with slight modification, stand alone as short stories. There are many novels out there that say, on the copyright page, something to the effect of "Parts of this novel have appeared previously, in somewhat modified form, in Magazine A, Magazine B, and Magazine C." That sort of thing is not unusual, especially with literary novels.

    I remember an interview with writer Malcolm Cowley, who spoke of "beefing" a book. He'd write a book and not be able to find a publisher, so he would "beef" it, meaning cut it up like a butcher cuts up a side of beef into steaks, roasts, and so on. He'd take sections or chapters of his book, do whatever modifications were necessary to make those sections stand alone, and get them published in magazines as smaller pieces. If they got enough positive attention, publishers would become more interested in publishing the book as a whole.
     
  8. colorthemap
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    colorthemap Contributing Member

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    See I started out with a short story idea, but I wanted to take it further.

    Dunno why I fear novels so much.
     
  9. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    It turns out that I have a hard time coming up with short story ideas. Most of my ideas tend to grow into novella- or novel-length stories. When I was taking Gotham writing courses, I found that I had to restrict my ideas down to the smallest possible ones, so that it appears that almost nothing happens, in order to keep my word counts down under the limits Gotham set. I find this kind of thing unnatural, so now I'm glad to be free of the short-story length restrictions.
     
  10. colorthemap
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    colorthemap Contributing Member

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    What am I doing? I should just be writing and not procrastinating.

    If I had a nickel for every one of my threads that ended like this, lol.
     
  11. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    so, why don't you start fining yourself a nickel [or a dollar] for every one you do!?... what you end up with in a month may buy you a ream of paper, or a new ink cartridge, at the same time it gets you to stop procrastinating when you see in monetary terms, how much time you've been wasting...
     

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