1. sayebr
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    sayebr New Member

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    What to work on first

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by sayebr, Jun 26, 2013.

    This is my first post, aside from my introduction, so forgive me if I have the wrong section or any other mistakes.

    I've read several books on writing, and in this case I am specifically referencing On Writing, by Stephen King. He suggests to work on writing shorter pieces and entering them into contests before working on a novel-length story. Basically, he claims that when you write a query letter to an agent/publisher, that if you have 'credentials' (for lack of a better word), you will be taken more seriously. Now, I have three or so short stories that I would consider polished and complete (some of which have been entered contests, fingers cross). While part of me feels like I should continue to work on building up a larger set of shorter, polished works, I find it hard to get excited about writing these shorter works. The few I've finished I believe have turned out really well (maybe I will post them here once I've earned some critiques), but I find it hard to get excited to write with the limitations posed by word limits (maybe that's a problem, I don't kn.

    I have some novel-length stories (one in particular that I'm really excited about) that I would like to continue working on, but I'm afraid that if I don't focus on shorter works to build up a portfolio of sorts, then I will have a harder time getting it taken seriously. BUT, this is what excites me...

    Anyway, I don't know. Sorry for the rambling. Any tips or advice would be helpful.
     
  2. martial_wolf
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    martial_wolf Member

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    I know the book you are talking about. One thing to keep in mind is Mr. King learned from his own experience many years ago, things aren't necessarily the same and what worked for him might not work for you.

    If you're excited about the novel-length work, write it! Forget some preconceived notion of how you 'should' do things. I work at a small publishing press and I can say with confidence that prior experience doesn't mean much if you already have the manuscript complete. Your work will speak for itself. For agents, I can't imagine publication credits would be more important than writing samples. Maybe though, I don't have an agent so I couldn't tell you.

    Keep in mind that posting short stories on this forum is the same as publishing them. Many magazines won't take reprints.
     
  3. Ann-Russell
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    Ann-Russell Member

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    I have heard this bit of advice a lot and though it may have been true in the past, I don't think it holds as much weight today. I watched a lecture series by Brandon Sanderson and he advises new writers to focus on the form they want to write: aspiring novelists should write novels while those that want to write short stories should write short stories.

    A short story and a novel are two different beasts, both with strengths and weaknesses, and both take a certain skill set (though of course there is cross-over). For me, I am not a big fan of short stories and I want to write novels, so I put the majority of my effort into honing that skill. I will say that lately I've written some shorter works (more like quick vignettes than actual short stories) and it has taught me a lot about the way I write, my own strengths/weaknesses, and has made me more aware of the type of writing I want to do.

    Basically, if you want to write short stories go ahead, but don't feel pressured into doing so because it is the only way to break into publishing.
     
  4. TerraIncognita
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    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

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    I have the same problem with short stories. I never feel like I can limit myself enough and that's something I'm working on because it's good to challenge yourself. :p I would suggest writing short stories about characters in your novel length ideas. It helps you learn more about the characters and it will help you be more interested in writing short stories. Two birds with one stone. :)
     
  5. sayebr
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    sayebr New Member

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    Thanks for the replies, everyone. It's actually really great that most people seem to recommend pursuing the novel length since that's what excites me. I do like the idea of writing short stories about my novel characters, I may try that to give myself a bit of insight and history into my characters.

    Thanks again everyone!
     
  6. TerraIncognita
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    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

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    Sure thing. Glad to help. :)
     
  7. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Although "things change," at the moment it's novels that sell. If that's your preferred medium, it makes sense to write them.

    I believe the 'selling' of any story is such a hit-and-miss palaver for a first-time writer these days, that you might as well write what you want, and take your chances. Whatever you do write, write it as well as you possibly can. Hone the piece to perfection, and THEN worry about who is going to publish it!

    And good luck! Looking forward to seeing samples of your writing here, once you've fulfilled the forum criteria for posting it on the forum.
     
  8. The Peanut Monster
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    The Peanut Monster Senior Member

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    The other thing you could do is create mini-short stories out of your novel if its the setting/characters that interests you. Write some back stories, or other encounters/ events that aren't portrayed in your main book. Maybe think about different types of characters and put them in similar situations/places to your main novel to see how they would respond. I've done a bit of this and it usually turns up some pretty interesting things, and one or two of these characters have crept in to my main story somewhere (and been deeper for it).

    EDIT: I just re-read the thread and TerraIncognita had already suggested this, so take this post as a second to her excellent suggestion :p That will teach me for posting before reading, hehe...
     
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