1. MarionRivers
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    MarionRivers Member

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    It is such nonsense that short stories are harder than novels

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by MarionRivers, Aug 1, 2008.

    There are many writers, who specialize in short stories, many of whom have never finished novels, that say the short story is harder than writing a novel, because you have to be selective in your words, whereas in novels you can write on and on.

    I totally disagree with that sentinment. Just because you might have to be more concise in description doesn't mean that the afternoon's work of writing a short has anything on the massive effort of writing a novel. A novel requires countless facets of characterization, structure, and pace excercized ad nauseum, whereas most short stories can usually get away with any sort of terse stylstic concept an author could concieve at the spur of a moment. A novel requires so much more intense writing, and with a short story can just disregard just throw out all the long contexualization and exposition and get to the meat of a narrtive. Forgive this metaphor, but it's a lot easier to finish a roast without having devoured a lot of appetizers.

    What do you think?
     
  2. runlikeyastolesomethin
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    runlikeyastolesomethin Member

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    I think I agree, but it might be harder to write an incredibly good short story than a terrible novel
     
  3. MarionRivers
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    MarionRivers Member

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    Well, yes, from a perspective of the required skill I would think. But wouldn't you say that a terrible novel will still take more literal effort, purely in terms of devoting the time? Though I suppose, if you're just bashing the keyboard, maybe not. :)
     
  4. zorell
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    zorell Contributing Member

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    I think you have to take into account that it takes more than an afternoon to develop a short story. Don't interchange less quantity with lower quality.
     
  5. BremerAcosta
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    BremerAcosta Member

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    Novels are a lot harder.

    1.) In most cases. it takes more time to write a novel (months to years compared to weeks).

    2.) Novels require a certain length of words. Short stories do too, but it's easier to maintain the amount needed.

    3.) The writer has to be more descriptive with the novels and develop the characters. Short stories are fast and get to the point.

    4.) The writer has to think of more ideas for a longer piece of written work, while not boring his reader.
     
  6. zorell
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    zorell Contributing Member

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    Okay, but have you ever thought that a short-stroy writer may have written something longer. Wittling words is like scrapping skin, it hurts and you never want to have to do it. I personally write something that never quite fits under either category, but I think it's just as hard to write a short-story as it is to write a novel. I think it's a bit rude to say that someone doesn't work as hard just because the result is as long as yours.
     
  7. MarionRivers
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    MarionRivers Member

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    True. But wouldn't you say it depends on the type of short story? If you have the time, a 1-7 pager might take an afternoon, whereas a 30 pager might take a week.
     
  8. MarionRivers
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    MarionRivers Member

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    Well, I guess then it's to each their own. I'm sorry, if I was rude, but I still stand that most writers in general find shorts easier.
     
  9. zorell
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    zorell Contributing Member

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    I have a harder time with them than novels. But, I can see that I am going to lose my civility, and won't post anymore.

    "To each his own." And I am agreeing to disagree:) Bye.
     
  10. MarionRivers
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    MarionRivers Member

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    Okay. You're right. Truly to each their own, and I shouldn't have generalized. I personally believe short stories are easier due to my own taste, but very well half of all writers may disagree with me. I was being presumptuous. I apologize.
     
  11. RomanticRose
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    RomanticRose Active Member

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    I find short stories well nigh impossible. I just can't seem to make anything shorter than a lengthy novella/novel.
     
  12. inkslinger
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    inkslinger Contributing Member

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    Hmm, I have to disagree. I think writing a novel is loads harder than writing a short story. I typically can write a short story with decent success, where as with novels I usually give up after a few chapters. Novels definitely take a lot more thought, planning, dedication, and general will power. Maybe I'm alone, but that's how I see it. :)
     
  13. Scribe Rewan
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    Scribe Rewan Contributing Member

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    I think they take different skills. I think that someone who spends all their time working on a novel will struggle greatly with a story. I know I do. And others who are used to only short stories would have trouble writing a novel.

    I think that in terms of a new writer, they will probably gravitate more towards short stories to start with, rather than a novel, simply because of length.

    I dont think either one can be classed as harder. Both require certain skills, and a lot of effort. It all depends on the writer.
     
  14. Silver Random
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    Silver Random Senior Member

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    I can see why someone would think it was more difficult to write a *good* short story, as you have to try and fit setting, characterisation, themes and a decent plot into much less words. Writing a novel you dont have the same constraints (though you cant say that you can write as much as you want, as chances are not many people will want to read a 2000 page novel).

    However, if you spend a few days thinking of an idea, you can finish a short story in a few hours, and redraught a few times all in a matter of days. For a novel, you can spend anywhere from a few hours to a few months planning it, and sometimes even take a few years to write a 1st draught. It takes a lot more dedication to do that. Also, it means that you need to expand on an idea and characters sufficiently to fill up a whole novel, where as in a short story you can basically just come up with a single idea, 1 or 2 characters, and there you have it.

    I wouldnt say it was harder to write a short story than a novel - my ratio of finished short stories to finished novels speaks for itself lol :rolleyes: But a short story requires more intensive writing, which a novel usually doesnt. For example, it was a lot more difficult for me to write a 100 word story for a competition than it is to write a 100 words in my novel - but i wouldnt say it was more difficult than writing 100,000 words of my novel :D
     
  15. tehuti88
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    tehuti88 Contributing Member

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    I don't think it's nonsense like you insist. :( I think that, like any such generalization, it's true in some cases and not true in others. I write primarily multi-chapter works and I find writing shorter stories to be a LOT more difficult. My writing is so heavily character based, dealing with how they change over time, that I could never fit that decently into a short story. All of my short stories, in fact, deal with characters in my existing, longer storylines and basically function as "sidestories"--these characters' development has already been gone through in the longer works so I don't need to deal with it as much in the shorter stories. Otherwise, I'd never manage to keep anything short. And even my short stories tend to turn out more as novellas than short stories.

    I find it excruciatingly difficult to sum up an entire plot and the characters' emotions and developments in anything under 10,000 words. For anyone who can do that convincingly, it's quite an achievement IMO. It's not tossed off or done easily at all...in some cases.

    I'm certain there are people who find writing short stories to be quite easy and novel writing to be next to impossible, but for some people like me, short stories ARE a lot harder than novels.

    To briefly reply to another post by BremerAcosta:

    1.) In most cases. it takes more time to write a novel (months to years compared to weeks).

    Yes, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's harder to write the novel. It just means it takes more time.

    2.) Novels require a certain length of words. Short stories do too, but it's easier to maintain the amount needed.

    Not for me! *LOL* For some people it's harder to keep something BELOW a certain number of words, than to keep something ABOVE a certain number of words. Flash fiction, for instance, mystifies me. I could never write that.

    3.) The writer has to be more descriptive with the novels and develop the characters. Short stories are fast and get to the point.

    And this is the difficulty in my case. My short stories would have no good character development, thus they'd come out flat and dull. I CAN'T get to the point without developed characters, and my characters need lots of time to develop.

    4.) The writer has to think of more ideas for a longer piece of written work, while not boring his reader.

    This here, however, is the good point, which I agree with. But it's the same with short stories--you have to find a way to keep the reader interested, whether for 1000 words or 100,000.
     
  16. Ore-Sama
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    Ore-Sama Senior Member

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    I've written two novels in the past and many short stories. Short stories are, in my opinion, easier, but harder.

    Short storie's length work against them at times, as it's really hard to squeeze strong characterization without rushing it. To make a good or decent short story is relatively simple. Making a great short story is harder then making a great novel. With a novel you have plenty of time to build up your characters, which makes it much easier to get attached to them. Short stories, even the long 30-50 paged ones, don't quite ave that luxury. Writing a great story in such a small space is fairly hard without feeling like you're rushing it.

    In short, making a decent short story is easier then making a decent novel. Making a great short story is harder then making a greta novel, in my view.
     
  17. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've written both short stories and novels.

    Timewise, it's obvious that a novel takes more time if for no other reason than it takes the time to actually type in the words and revise/edit into something ready for submission.

    Short stories, on the other hand, often have very strict limits on length, and trying to fit something interesting and complex into that small limited structure is a challenge.

    One can not simply compare short story writing and novel length writing as if they're one in the same, the former simply being a brief version of the latter. While there is crossover with skills and techniques employed to creat both, there are differences in structure and pacing (among other things) that make them very much different.

    Some writers are able to switch gears from one length to the other without much effort. Other writers cannot, without great effort. Many writers can write novel length but their efforts at short fiction result in miserable products. Same with short fiction writers who try their hand at novel length. Of course there are those that produce utter drivel in both forms and don't realize it ;) .

    I guess one could use the analogy of the short fiction writer as competing in the 400 meter hurdles, and the novel writer in the marathon. Try telling either that competing at the highest levels of each (insert here reaching publication) is easy--or that one is easier than the other. One could insert the mile run for novella length and 100 meter dash for flash fiction.

    Terry
     
  18. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I think this is a subjective question that has no real answer. Either venue, the short story or the novel, can be written spectacularly or horridly. Relative difficulty of the writing would depend on the writer. There are disciplines of writing in which I feel very comfortable, and others where I feel like a dolt. I am sure the same applies to most of us, and to most writers.
     
  19. Charisma
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    Charisma Transposon Contributor

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    I agree with tetuhi. She stole the words from my mouth. (technically my vocal cords, but nonetheless). I despise writing short stories sometimes; I feel I'm so constricted and can't breathe! I feel the need to explain everything as I like, make a small event into something big and exciting! Not easy as a short story, sorry.
     
  20. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    This is a perfect example of what I mean by subjective. I love writing short stories, even flash fiction. I love the speed and tempo of the style. This doesn't mean that either Charisma or I are either right or wrong. It just means that we have different inclinations in writing. Subjective.
     
  21. Charisma
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    Charisma Transposon Contributor

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    That too, I agree with. :p
     
  22. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    A marathon runner and a sprinter would each balk at switching places. The marathoner needs to build up endurance and learn his ideal pace, but the sprinter needs to get out of the blocks fast and make every step, every small body angle and movement, as efficient and powerful as possible.

    From an outside view, the sprinter has the easier task. His race ends in a few seconds. But either athlete could tell you there's a lot more to each sport than meets the eye.
     
  23. TwinPanther13
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    I have only gazed at the first page of this and I am not sure if what I am about to say has been said. In truth this is all very opionated and somewhat onesided. I am currently looking for an aarticle I read by Orson Scott Card where he talks about the difference between short stories and novels.

    In it he states, suprisingly, that writting Short stories are the hardest thing he has done. Once he learned how to write a novel he found that the hardest thing for him to do now is write a good short story.

    They require different techniques and a novelist who is used to having wide open space to create is not used to fitting all that into something compact. It is infact easier, no matter how horrible it may be for a short story writer to fill in empty space.

    I have one of my own an artist used to a canvas given a postcard has trouble fitting to the medium, a postcard artists given a canvas can fill but might have too much detail as to be confusing. That is my analogy
     
  24. TwinPanther13
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    TwinPanther13 Contributing Member

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    after reading everything I see that there is an better analogy then mine. i like the sprinter and marathon runner one. I believe that explains it best. So to each his own although I would love to be like Stephen King and do bot very well
     
  25. MarionRivers
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    Well, maybe the reason I found short-stories so much easier is that I don't write descriptions. I can only write content, so when I write a short story, it's only natural for me to get right to the point of each situation (or lack of point of each situation!). The only way I can fill up a novel is by pumping it full of extended conversations, interactions, monologues, musings, and other tangential elements that hopefully add to some sort of thematic unified whole at the end.
     

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