1. Thomas Kitchen
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    Thomas Kitchen Proofreader in the Making Contributor

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    I'm Welsh - and proud!

    Writing inbetween books?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Thomas Kitchen, Jan 9, 2013.

    Hello,

    I was wandering the internet a few months back and I came across someone who said, in a nutshell, "Write short stories before and after your book (or series) to do with your characters or world so you get to know them or it better, and so you won't make the characters do anything irrational or unlike them in the future."

    All I wanted to know is whether anyone else does this, and if so, how successful was it for you? Because these stories would likely not be published, is it worth using the ideas about your world in short stories, therefore it being harder to write later books (although I do understand an author should never run out of ideas)? Any tips/advice/general thoughts would be very helpful. Thanks. :D
     
  2. Kat Hawthorne
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    Kat Hawthorne Member

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    Stephanie Meyer wrote "The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner" as a character development exercise while in the middle of "Eclipse," so, yeah, I'd say some people find success with it.

    Personally, being a very, very character driven writer, I don't tend to do this. My characters speak for themselves, and I find I get muddled up if I try to take them out of the current situation and put them somewhere else. If you are a planner, write your backstories before you begin. That way, you will know why a character acts the way they do, plus it will help you become accustomed to their voice and characteristics.

    It's a personal thing, I think, and one of those things that works for some but not all. As with everything else with writing, there is no hard and fast rule to follow. Just do what feels right for you.
     
  3. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    I'm much the same way. In my current project, a historical novel, I did an inordinate amount of planning (besides the research), including timelines, character arcs and geneology trees. Oftentimes, I'll write backstory into the text of my first draft knowing I'm going to edit it out. I generally don't write short stories. Just not my thing.
     
  4. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    When I was writing fanfic, I wrote novel-length stories, short stories, drabbles (100 words or less), whatever - putting the characters into all kinds of different situations. They all helped me develop my version of the characters (since none of them had in-depth backstories or characterizations in the original). So I think it can be helpful to get an overall idea in your mind of what your characters would or wouldn't do - or what they could do, given the right circumstances. It certainly wouldn't hurt. As to using the ideas up, why couldn't you use the same ideas for a novel? Even if you publish the short stories, many authors do that and later on expand it into a novel (Stephen King comes to mind).

    Basically, if you're writing several books with the same characters and have the time and interest in doing this, I can't see a down side. If it's just one book with those particular characters, then I'd say let them develop during the story.
     
  5. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've written 3 novel length stories with my same characters, although each one focuses on a different character. I definitely know A LOT about them now, although I'm really focusing on the first one. My position is that you can't get to know your characters too well - i.e. it is impossible to have too much knowledge about them, and the more you know your characters, the better for your stories.

    My only question with your question is when you're not using the characters in subsequent stories. If you've written a novel and you're not writing a series or interrelated stories, I'm not sure what good it does you to get to know them better if you're finished with your story (and therefore finished with their world.) Unless you're using it for editing purposes, I suppose. I guess it's a big help if you're using the same characters again, but I actually think it might be more helpful if you did this before/while you were writing the novel featuring them.

    I don't see why it would make writing future stories about them more difficult -- I think it would be easier. But if it turns out that you're writing a story, and all of a sudden, you decide you need your character to have gone to med school rather than law school, or he lived in California and not Virginia, then just change it. It doesn't need to change his personality.
     
  6. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I often do this. Maybe not with complete short stories, but I do write scenes, and sometimes chapters, involving my characters and worlds that I know will not make it into the finished work. I think it's very valuable. I not only gain a better understanding of the characters, but I feel a closer connection with them, and that makes me more comfortable writing about them. Another advantage is that writing, even writing material that won't be in the final work, helps me generate new ideas that will make it into the final work.

    I say go for it.
     
  7. BallerGamer
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    BallerGamer Active Member

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    I do this, but not exactly with the intention of getting to know my characters or world better. Some of the short stories in my world are scrapped ideas that I shoveled into my novel that I thought were better off separate, or ideas that can only work in that universe.
     

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