1. huntingbears
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    huntingbears New Member

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    Plotting a novel as a series of short stories

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by huntingbears, Jun 3, 2014.

    Is it a legitimate technique to plot a novel as a series of short stories that are basically chapters using the same characters? I get lost the second I even begin thinking about writing a novel, but the idea of writing ten or so short stories and stringing them together makes it seem much easier to stay on track.

    Would this work or would it seem disjointed? If I mostly read short stories instead of novels does this hamper my chances of writing a good novel?
     
  2. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    As a writer of both shorts and novels, I'd advise against it. They're two different animals with only the very basics of writing in common. As a reader of both, I'd advise against it. When I read a novel, I want to read a long flow of story - not a bunch of short pieces whose only connections are the same characters.

    Yes, read novels if you want to write novels. Write short stories if that's what you want to read.
     
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  3. Okon
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    Okon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Would these have a serialized feel? John Dies at the End was a coalition of serials that had a slight arc to it, and it worked quite well.
     
  4. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Absolutely. As @shadowwalker pointed out, they are two different species. Novels have elements that short stories do not - size, scope, depth, subplots. If you don't read novels, how can you ever gain an understanding of how they are structured, how they flow, how the stories can roll out? And, what yardstick can you possibly have for the techniques you use to tell your story?

    There are lots of great novels, past and present, to choose from.
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    listen to shadow and ed... they're right...

    a series of short stories can only = a 'book'... cannot = a 'novel'...
     
  6. Vandor76
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    Vandor76 Contributing Member

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    What about writing a novelette first? ( see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Length_of_a_novel#In_fiction )
     
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  7. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I'd say if you like writing short stories, write them. There is no reason you couldn't present them as a collection of short stories that feature a particular set of characters, or location, or whatever. I'm sure this has been done before.

    However, you will need to structure each story so it has no loose ends–and be willing to start from scratch with the characters in your next story. You won't be able to carry unfinished plot points from story to story, or assume the reader has read the others and already knows the characters and the environment.

    The difference between a short story and a chapter in a novel or novelette is that a short story leaves no untied threads. It stands alone. That story is finished.

    A chapter will have a beginning, middle and end, and can usually provide an emotional stopping point for the reader to take a break, but the story is unfinished. It takes the entire book to 'finish' the story and leave the reader satisfied that all story issues have been addressed.
     
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  8. feathersinflight
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    feathersinflight Member

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    I'm new to this site, and I realize that I may not be the most experienced person in the types of literary works to give insight into whether your idea is viable or not. However, I think that it would be highly interesting. I wonder if you could make an overarching plot, and let the short stories simply extend that plot...but I guess it would be confusing unless you developed a solid plot and gave the reader considerable insight into it.
     
  9. purplehershey
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    purplehershey Member

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    As long as something is stringing them all together, I say go for it. Sounds a little like my own novel I'm writing.
     
  10. Adenosine Triphosphate
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    Adenosine Triphosphate Old Scratch Contributor

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    Sounds sort of like the written version of a TV show.
     

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