1. Rumwriter
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    Rumwriter Active Member

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    short story vs novel

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Rumwriter, May 18, 2012.

    I've written several short stories, some flash fiction, some longer, and I generally find them fairly easy to go about. I never find myself wondering what sort of a sentence to write.

    Then suddenly, I try to write a novel, and every sentence is grueling to write. And I'm not necessarily talking plot. I'm talking just about figuring out words. What do say, and what not to say.

    Of course there is a difference between a short story and a novel, but can anyone explain why my mind suddenly blanks when I'm writing a bigger piece? I think it may be because I'm not focusing on a single small event, and so my mind it wandering, but I really don't know, and it's driving me crazy. It could probably take me 4 hours to write a few paragraphs if I have the mindset of it being part of a novel, and probably get 6 pages written during that time if I told myself it was for a short story.

    What gives?
     
  2. C.B Harrington
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    C.B Harrington Member

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    You're thinking too much about the end result. Writers block, for specific projects like a novel, generally come from not knowing what comes next, what you're building too, what the purpose is for each individual piece of dialogue, character action, conflict or event. There are several different layers to plot; character development is one of them, and much of character development shines through with dialogue, internal monologue, cause and effect actions and decision making - if you don't know what your character is supposed to develop into, you can't write any of those things without ending up lost in the process. (Or else coming back later to seriously revise and cut material)

    To help work through this, put your idea aside for a minute. Take the simple premise of a knight who must save a princess in a tower from a dragon guarding the castle. Make it ten pages long and write simply about the knights actions in a third person omniscient and in a three Act structure. This might sound like a short story, and it is in the sense of length - but short stories are Theme centered whereas Novels are Plot centered. I suggest you create 4 events for the knight, a climax, and a resolution. I'm suggesting this writing exercise for one reason - because it's a start and finish project that isn't overly complicated and follows a plot/act structure. Keep attempting to write like this, off of simple premises, so you can familiarize yourself with the structure of a novel, making each new attempt a little longer. It won't take long before you understand how best to structure and map out your idea so you can fly.
     
  3. killbill
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    killbill Contributing Member

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    Rumwriter, you may be right when you said you may not be concentrating enough on a scene/event/chapter. Always keep the larger picture in the back of your mind, but the focus should be specifically on the particular smaller event you are writing presently. When words are not pouring out of your pen you may take the approach you are most familiar with, in your case the short story approach. Treat each scene/chapter like a short story and write fill those pages. I know short stories and novels are very different beast and blah blah blah... but who cares if it is making you complete your first draft.
     
  4. indy5live
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    indy5live Active Member

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    A novel is just a series of small scenes. Try writing several short stories that revolve around scenes you'd like to include in your novel using the characters you'd like to include in your novel. Then, perhaps, try peicing your short stories together and fill in the gaps with more scenes. Just an idea. If your mind works with ease on smaller scale stories, look at each chapter as such.
     
  5. RaeRae
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    RaeRae Member

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    That sounds like a great idea. I too am a short story writer but would love to write a novel entailing them all. Thanks Indy!
     
  6. Rumwriter
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    Rumwriter Active Member

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    I've been thinking about it more, and I think part of it is that a novel requires being a lot more intimate with the story.

    When I write a short story, I will usually have some image in my head. Not even a scene necessarily, but just an image, or even a sentence, and I will just write a small story based on that image. And that usually works really well for my short story writing.

    But for a novel, a simple image isn't enough for me. I need to know my plot inside and out, and make characters way more complex and interesting, and I have to be able to visualize everything way better. If I'm writing a short story, I might just tell myself "it takes place in a kitchen" and write, but for a novel, I find myself needing to know what the kitchen looks like, and why it takes place in the kitchen, and so much more. It's overwhelming.

    I've thought about that before. I started a thread a few weeks back about it, you can prob find it, I'm not going to look for it, but somehow, despite it being a good idea, I find myself unable to wrap my head around it. But, I suppose novel writing isn't supposed to be easy. I'll figure it out.
     
  7. koal4e
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    koal4e Member

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    I am writing my first novel and so far I am finding it fairly easy. Before this I think I had completed no more than 30,000 words. I do believe that its because I have split the novel down into chunks, I have 13 bullet points to write about, short stories of each if you will.

    Example (not my novel just made up):

    (war story)

    * Man meets woman
    * Man dates woman
    * Man gets concripted to army and completes training
    * Man gets wind of being sent to the front and steals a night of passion with woman
    * Man gets sent to the front as observation officer
    * Man fights well with picture of woman in pocket and sends letters regularly.
    * Man gets hit by shell and loses lung and leg and in hospital
    * Woman gets telegram man dead
    * Man sent back to country and goes to find woman
    * woman happy man alive...they marry...loads of kids...THE END
     

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