1. sideofko
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    sideofko Member

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    Short Stories before Novel?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by sideofko, Feb 23, 2009.

    Just as a note, I would use the search function but as a rule I try not to dabble in thread necromancy. :)

    Does anyone else write short stories as a kind of training exercise before trying to pound out an entire novel? I have an idea for a novel and have completed numerous character profiles, plot outlines, etc. However, I still feel that my actual writing needs work. So I write short stories to hone my craft.

    Should I go ahead and write my novel now? Or should I continue to write short stories and keep climbing hills until I feel that I am ready to take on the mountain?

    Thanks in advance guys and gals.
     
  2. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    While there is some crossover with respect to the skills and techniques used to write a short story vs. a novel, there are differences.

    I've written both. What I would say about writing a novel, is that if your heart is in that, go for it, realizing that you'll learn along the way and the writing at the end of your novel will be better (more than likely) than it is at the beginning.

    That's okay, as I see it, since you'll have to revise and edit it all the way through at least once, but probably more times than that.

    Good luck in whatever avenue you take.

    Terry
     
  3. Lucas Maroon
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    Lucas Maroon New Member

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    I say write that novel. They are not very similar at all. A short story needs to be captivating, whether the pace is slow or fast. There is less to work with so there isn't as much breathing room for things that have point yet lack a lot of function. Novels can have more descriptions and narrative downtime, I suppose, without losing reader interest.

    On the other hand, you could think of a short story as a miniture novel, but only in a basic sense. If you viewed in in that manner, you could hone your plot development skills, but probably not character development. While writing a short story, an author has to be very choosy with what character details s/he puts in the story as there is not as much room as a novel.
     
  4. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    Write whatever you feel like writing when you feel like it. Some people believe it's necessary to write short stories to practice. In some ways it is. In others, it isn't. You have to do what is right for you.
     
  5. Dalouise
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    Dalouise Contributing Member

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    I wrote, and sold, short stories in the 1980's and embarked on my first novel in 2007. Despite the time that had elapsed between the two projects, the first draft of my first novel, with 42 chapters, sounded like 42 short stories strung together. My second novel was entirely different from the outset, I did it for NaNoWriMo which forced me to write far more quickly and by day 17 I had a first draft which has required less editing so far.
    I know the novelist Jilly Cooper converted some of her published short stories into successful novels afterwards - such as "Octavia" - but I have had to work far harder to go from one to the other. I'm sure it varies from person to person. What I have found is that I need to just sit down and WRITE without much pre-planning, but that's just me.
     
  6. tehuti88
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    tehuti88 Contributing Member

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    Writing short stories can help you improve your writing in general but as others have said, writing a short story is not really practice for writing a novel. They're two different things, so if you expect becoming proficient with short stories to make writing a novel easy, forget it.

    This isn't to say that you shouldn't keep writing short stories. ANY kind of writing is good practice to improve your work, as I said, in general. But if you want to write a novel, the only way you'll get proper experience is by writing a novel.

    I've written short stories, novellas, novels, and very long serials. They're all very different creatures.
     
  7. Gannon
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    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Here's a link to one of those old threads that you might find interesting:

    http://www.writingforums.org/showthread.php?t=18075&highlight=short

    It may help you make you own mind up as to which path is the best to take.

    Ultimately, it's not the idea that makes the tale, it's you so with sufficient plot intrigue and character development, and lack of reliance on padding, any idea has the potential to make it as a novel. It just depends how you write it.
     
  8. MCWilliams
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    MCWilliams New Member

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    I've been writing, and re-writing many times over, novels (still unpublished), but decided to write short stories revolving around the over-aching plot and setting of my main work. In other words, side stories. As has been pointed out, this is a good exercise for writing in general, and it can also help flush things out for the main novel. For instance you can write a few short stories for important events in the main character's life, or various side character's lives -- perhaps even for the villain or villains (that's always great fun!).
     
  9. Dcoin
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    Dcoin Contributing Member

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    If you are exploring deeper plots, individual character development or general ideas then hit up the short-story circuit.

    If however you are looking to improve writing of a certain un-started novel, there is no better medium than the novel itself.
     
  10. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The advantage of short stories is that you can explore style and develop your personal voice. You can get a handle on plot and character development with a much smaller investment.

    I'm not saying you won't have a learning curve moving from short stories to novels, not the least oif which is managing a large writing project. But there's a lot a writer can practice in short stories that CAN be carried over to novels. It's much less painful to throw away a 3000 word short story than 100K words of novel that never quite jelled.
     
  11. Leo
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    Leo Senior Member

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    Also short stories give you that boost of satisfaction when they're finished- without the massive investment of time taken to write a novel.

    I tried to write several novels- and never got anywhere- before I discovered what I needed to do was write short stories- but that doesn't mean I've ruled out novels in the long run. But I know I'm not ready for it yet. And also there's nothing wrong with short stories as pieces of work in their own right. They're easier to get published for one thing, with small scale magazines etc.
     
  12. Nilfiry
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    Nilfiry Contributing Member

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    Actually, I think writing short stories and writing novels are rather different. I know many people who can write one but not the other. You can tackle novels now if you want, but there's nothing wrong with continuing on your short stories until you feel "ready;" although, I see no reason why you can't do both at once.
     
  13. Dcoin
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    Dcoin Contributing Member

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    Seems pretty much the same to me :D
     
  14. Nilfiry
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    Nilfiry Contributing Member

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    Typos are evil. >.>
    :-D

    Yep, very different.
     
  15. KP Williams
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    KP Williams Contributing Member

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    Actually, I can't write a short story to save my life. Every time I come up with a plot that could be condensed into a short story, I either become so entertained by it that I come up with any excuse I can to drag it out longer, or I lose interest in it in a matter of minutes and move on to something else. Usually the former.

    I tried to fill up a notebook with one- to two-page short stories, just to keep writing when I didn't feel like working on the novel... I got maybe three done, each one longer than the last. :rolleyes: My subconscious seems to harbor the belief that if I don't plan to show it to anybody one day, it's pointless. I can't seem to convince it otherwise.
     
  16. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    FMK,

    I may be misinterpreting, but I don't think one can condense a plot into a short story. I think the plot has to be the right size and complexity, not a larger more complex one compacted to short story size/length.

    One might cut and trim, but even that often leaves the result awkward and misshapen.

    Terry
     
  17. Vergil
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    Vergil Member

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    I've tried starting a few novels but the plot just ran away from me so I decided to work on some short stories instead. I think it's helping me. My problem was that I just would never know how the story was going to end so it was nice to be able to start and finish a short story - developing my own style as I did so.
     
  18. KP Williams
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    KP Williams Contributing Member

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    Yes, that's what I meant. I consider whether or not the plot is too long or complicated to fit into a short story. If it is, I move on.
     
  19. sideofko
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    sideofko Member

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    Thanks to everyone for their comments.

    To Leo:

    I find that my confidence is boosted after I've completed a short story as well. Sometimes I don't believe that I have the stamina to pound out a novel. However, when I complete a short work of fiction I begin to see that I can tell a story and have it be at least internally consistent. LOL. Hopefully what I've written is worth reading too.
     
  20. Aeroflot
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    Aeroflot Senior Member

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    It might not even have to be a short story. Any writing you do, as long as your mind is active, is good practice. You can write a novel first--many people do--and be successful, but as some people in this thread have mentioned the first novel ends up sucking. That's probably what's going to happen regardless of what you write beforehand, but I have a feeling that each pre-novel writing is going to make that first novel suck one percent less.
     
  21. Dcoin
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    Dcoin Contributing Member

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    Upon further thought, it is somewhat easier to elicit feedback from a short story than a full length novel. This might be a huge advantage if trying to gage interest in a particular plot.
     
  22. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Even thougb short stories and novels require some different thought processes, there are enough similarities that most writers can probably benefit by working on short stories first. And the necessity for tight focus in short stories is a worthwile skill that is easily overlooked if you go straight to novels.

    Admittedly, I love the short story form as an end in itself. My interest in tackling a novel began when a short story I wrote was really cramped in that form. So I gegan developing it as a novel in order to capture the natural scope of the story.
     
  23. Jiggles
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    Jiggles New Member

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    That's the path I've taken, pretty much. Came from reading Neil Gaiman did the same thing. Progression is a natural thing. I think that initially, I couldn't cope with writing anything beyond the short story and I loved writing them (still do) just because I knew I'd finish them and never is there a more glorious feeling. How could I write a good novel if I couldn't write a basic, good short story?

    I've found that after two to three years of this, the stories are getting longer, the prose is more assured and clear; writing short stories teaches you a heap of skills that novel writing wouldn't. The amateur, teen novel is just a mess - I've seen them on forums everywhere. The short story is a different animal that gives you the skills necessary to write and structure a novel properly. Obviously, its up to you when to make the switch. Whenever you feel ready.

    I'm working on my first novel too, at the moment.
     

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