1. andyscribe
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    andyscribe Member

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    Short story or novel

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by andyscribe, Jul 7, 2012.

    Hello

    I've only fairly recently started getting serious about writing and thought it best to start with a series of short stories.

    With some though, they feel a bit long for a short story but I feel that making it novel length would be stretching it out.

    Anyone else have similar dilemmas or any thoughts on this?
     
  2. FirstTimeNovelist91
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    FirstTimeNovelist91 Senior Member

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    If you feel as though you have used all the words needed to tell your story, then there is no need to stretch it out. Just call it a novela and call it a day.
     
  3. thecoopertempleclause
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    thecoopertempleclause Contributing Member

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    Short stories are the best way to hone your craft, since they allow you to focus on one or two ideas at once while not having to worry about structure, character arcs or subplots too much. That said, while there's no point in stretching your story beyond what it should be, there's no point in cutting it below what it should be either.

    Generally speaking, short stories are up to 7,500 words, novlettes up to 17,500, novellas up to 40,000 and a novel anything over that.

    On the flipside, it can be good practice learning to write to a word limit too. So I'd personally try a wide range of lengths and styles as practice.
     
  4. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I think a short story is a good way to start - it gives you something to work with style wise and helps you understand how stories flow. And when you're looking for critique people are more willing to read a ten page short story than a 200 page novel.
    Plus , it's also an easier undertaking than a novel which can get frustrating , and boring ( especially when it's not going as smoothly as you thought.) And the bonus of a short story , is that if you love it you can always rework it into a novel.
    But if you've got your heart set on a novel - go for it!
     
  5. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Write it as well you can and let the piece decide if it wants to be a short story, or novella, or whatever.
     
  6. andyscribe
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    andyscribe Member

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    Thanks, it's good to have those guidelines. That'll help.
     
  7. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The only real problem comes with stories in the novella size range. If you have too much story to fit in a short story, but not enough for a full novel, you're kinda screwed. Either you need to carve your way down to short story range, add complications to build it to novel range, or settle for something that will probably be unpublishable. None of the alternatives are particularly satisfying.
     
  8. kingzilla
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    kingzilla Senior Member

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    I would just write short stories until you have a good idea for a novel.
     
  9. JonSpear360
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    JonSpear360 Member

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    I personally don't like short stories. I've written a couple, and they never turn out as well as I hoped they do. I'm definitely going to be editing and re-working three of them pretty soon.

    That said, I prefer to write novels and I find it the most fun. I guess that's what it comes down to. If you're ENJOYING the learning process, I think you're better off. So just write what you enjoy.

    I never start a story with the length of the finished product in mind. I just tell the story I want to tell and see where it goes. Obviously, some concepts will be near impossible to fit into flash fiction, a short story, or even a novella. So you kinda know going into the writing process if your story is about a complex mental breakdown of a quantum physicist, you probably will need at least 60-80k :) If your story is about an imaginary friend, it'd be easier to make a compelling short story than a long story that holds your attention.

    Also, what if you write a story and it comes out at 6k words. That's a short story. While editing, you uncover an amazing over arching plot you completely missed the first time. You write a novel, and bits and pieces of that short story are in your new novel. You didn't waste the time! Don't ever be worried about wasting time. Let the story evolve.

    My advice, write and let it be fun. Don't worry too much about the details first. The writing should come first.
     
  10. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    My philosophy is that you need to write the story that's in you, however long or short it ends up. After you've done that, once you're in editing mode, you may find parts that need to be expanded or parts that need to be cut out or significantly revised.

    I have found that when people are stuck on "I'm only writing a short story" or "I want to keep it below "80K words" or whatever artificial parameters they're imposing on themselves, they inhibit the flow of their writing. I say write it all and cut out what doesn't work afterward. Of course, if you're submitting something for publication or for a contest and there are word limits, you need to abide by them. But even in that case, I'd first get out what I wanted to say and then trim it afterward.
     
  11. Steph4136
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    Steph4136 Senior Member

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    I fully agree with chicagoliz. Just write what you want to write and don't worry about length so much, or else you may inhibit yourself.

    I suck at writing short stories so don't even try anymore.
     
  12. killbill
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    killbill Contributing Member

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    Writing a GOOD novel requires very serious commitments; a mistress who will demand more and more of your time away from your family, your chores, and your work. Be sure you have the time and the resources to do that before you commit. Moreover, for a newbie writer a short story can give you the satisfaction of seeing your completed work very quickly which will inspire you to keep writing.
     
  13. Program
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    Program Member

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    I agree. Writers shouldn't think about the size or "specific name (short story, novel, etc.)" of their writing. Good readers don't use the size of a book to determine if it's good or not. They also don't say, "This writer called his/her work a short story and it was 15,000 words, so s/he must be a bad writer."

    I'd infer that "short story" and "novel" at one point were just nouns more specific than "piece of writing" or "fictional story" that helped categorize different types of writing. Then, some readers who were obsessed with quantity and the length of a book one day happened to see "Short Story Contest - Less than 10,000 words" one day and did not deduce that the limit was only imposed because the judges don't have all day to read entries, so they decided to share that "All short stories should be less than 10,000 words or should be called something else."

    Just be free and write what you want to write!
     
  14. andyscribe
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    andyscribe Member

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    All good points, thanks.

    I think I've got a patience problem. Once I get an idea for a story I can't wait to get it down. I'm happy with some of my stories in their short form but feel as though they could also benefit from character build ups, more detailed descriptions and I can feel some potentially interesting sub-plots.

    I suppose I'm using shorts to test the water before I commit to a longer project. That can't be a bad thing can it?
     
  15. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    Throughout this, I think we need to remember that there are difference skill sets needed for short stories and novels. A novel isn't just a long short story, or a short story just a truncated novel. If you concentrate on short stories, you'll probably become very good at writing short stories - it doesn't mean you'll also be able to write novels, and vice versa. Having said that, I agree with the many comments that you should just write the story and worry about length afterward.
     
  16. BBBurke
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    BBBurke Member

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    When I decided to get more serious about writing I started with short stories. And each one had a specific goal to work on - be it dialogue or narrative or character development, etc. I didn't worry about any specific length. One of the stories really captured my attention and it just started growing and expanding. When I finished it was 25k words. I realized I couldn't really get that length published anywhere, but it was the right length for that story. Ultimately I realized I had more stories to tell about the character was wrote a couple more the same length. Each story stands alone, but they also work together to make a novel-length story of the character.

    So start writing just to write until you find what works for you and what length you really want to write.
     
  17. bsbvermont
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    bsbvermont Active Member

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    I would agree with Cogito...unless you are writing for pleasure or your market is an online blog site, you might be writing yourself out of a market with a Novela. (I'm not sure I've ever bought one...except maybe Hemmingway, but the rules were pretty different back then) Could you have someone with a critical eye read it over and help you to figure out what needs to be expanded? Or ask yourself, what do I love about my characters and what can I add that will encourage my readers to love them too.
     

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