Advice to writers.... or is it?

Discussion in 'Insights & Inspiration' started by DeadMoon, Jun 18, 2016.

  1. Quixote's Biographer

    Quixote's Biographer Member

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    That's the point I wanted to make but you made it a lot better than I probably would :) For someone like me who's tried to write a novel since I was in my early teens but has yet to finish one, trying my hand at writing short stories has been really positive for several reason. First of all, like hawls points out, I can finally complete a first draft. That means I finally have a complete story to work with and I finally get to work on other important skills as well, like getting feedback, editing, rewriting etc. Second of all, completing a first draft, then moving on to "stage 2" (feedback, editing) and so on until you have a complete story that is finished, gives a strong feeling of accomplishment that I don't think should be underestimated. It's a good feeling to not put away a story because you got tired of it but because it's actually done. A short story has a plot, a protagonist, a beginning, middle and end but, at least for me personally, it's a length that I can actually finish, edit and complete. And I absolutely think you can learn a lot by working on 'a smaller scale' (no offense, short novellists) before starting your novel. Which I'll get back to at some point! :)

    The final reason I enjoy writing short stories is because I love the creative freedom (see below) and I think it teaches me a lot that I can bring into novel writing at a later stage. Allow me to use a music analogy; I think some musicians are experts at listening and learning from other genres and artists they don't usually listen to or that are very different from the kind of music they make. A guitarist in one of my favorite heavy/screamo bands once admitted that he stole a certain rhythm from Madonna! And I think that's a great thing, to not shy away from something because it's not necessarily 'your style' or 'thing', but to listen and try to learn and maybe it's something that'll show up in your own music at some point.

    When I'm writing a novel, all my thoughts, planning, plotting and writing go into one story, one world and a certain set of characters, for months (if not years) at a time (and I still can't finish a first draft...!). And it's all in one style or genre or whatever you wanna call it (one style of music). When I'm writing short stories I can write one genre, with one certain plot and one type of character one day and something completely different the next. I feel like it gives me a very wide creative freedom if that makes sense and it allows me to test and learn from a variety of different genres and styles (music styles I don't usually listen to) without having to commit to a year of novel writing. I can write something really dark and depressing one day and something light and funny the next, or allow supernatural things to happen in one story but not in the next and so on.

    Finally, I just wanna state the obvious that sometimes seems lost in this thread. It's not a competition. If people like writing short stories and think people can learn the craft of writing from it, that doesn't mean you are inferior or a lesser writer because you only write novels. It takes a lot of talent and skill to write a good novel and just the same to write a good short story. Sometimes that seems lost on some people, although I'm not pointing fingers. Then again, I'm a simple man. I write because I love writing and creating stories. Sometimes an idea fits better in a short story and I enjoy that. Sometimes it fits a novel and start planning and expanding that. I write both and enjoy both and think you can learn a lot from both.
     
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  2. cutecat22

    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    WHOA!

    WHOA WHOA WHOA!

    OK JUST STOP!

    FIRST of all, I AM A WOMAN!

    Thank you - pay no attention to my avatar, or do you think Tenderiser is a reincarnation of Rik Mayall?

    No format is better than the other - at all - never - not a cat in hell's chance of getting me to say any different, but @Tenderiser is absolutely right with this:

    I don't think she's "dissing" it. She's just saying, factually, that short stories generally contain one arc and one plot and don't meander with developing as many side characters, sub plots, and multiple arcs. And that's one reason that honing the craft of writing short stories doesn't translate effectively to novel writing.

    Don't want to put words into cutecat's mouth so maybe I should just say that's my interpretation of what she said, and I agree with my interpretation!


    There is a vast difference between writing short stories, novels, novellas, comic books, scripts, 30 second adverts, newspaper articles, text books, true life and recipe books ... and each one of them requires it's own set of skills.

    No one, absolutely no one has the right to tell an author (or up and coming author, or hobby author, or learner author or ANY DAMN AUTHOR) that they need to start out writing short stories to hone their craft.

    Bullcrap!

    If you want to write, WRITE!

    Personally speaking, I can't write short stories. I've tried, can't do it. But give me 500 pages and I can write you one hell of a page turner with plot twists, sex, OMG's and 'did she really just do that?' a plenty.

    So stop thinking like you know what I'm thinking because you don't. And rather than jumping to conclusions, try asking.

    DO NOT, EVER, think I am dissing anyone because that is not my friggin style.

    As far as I'm concerned, whether you've been writing 25 years or 25 minutes, you will get my support because that's how I am but don't ever presume to tell me - or anyone else - how to write. Writing is art and all art is as individual as the person producing it.
     
  3. cutecat22

    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    Did I say novels are more complex?

    NO I DID NOT!
     
  4. cutecat22

    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    Who said I was dissing them?
     
  5. hawls

    hawls Active Member

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    This is where I was coming from. The advice was for people who don't know the first thing about putting a slick, coherent narrative together. Yes, sorry, I hadn't stated the level of skill of the person being given the advice. Absolute beginner.

    So, yes, once you get those basics down of course it is better to focus on your chosen form, that's where you should be getting the attention.

    What if you're determined to hone your skills in both?
     
  6. Wolf Daemon

    Wolf Daemon Active Member

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    Yes, yes you did:

    You explained that a Short Short is more to the point but that a Novel is more complex with added "lanes" to go down.

    Which again makes no sense.

    Yes Short Shorts have certain things you need to worry about when you get better at them (like focusing on saving space and not rambling as has been said) but overall a short short allows the writer to work on the basics of a story multiple times over. You can sit down for an hour and come out with a short short, then do it again the next hour and the next and next thing you know you have an understanding of basic plot structure.

    Now you are better suited to create the bigger story with an understanding of the basics that you NEED to create the novel in the first place.

    Yes there are different forms of stories but 'Short Shorts - Shorts - Novellas - Novels' all have the same basics that need to be understood by the author in order to better their piece of works.
     
  7. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    Sorry if I misunderstood anything. I think you're all wonderful. And it's clear that there are more novel writers here than short story writers. Nothing wrong with that. I think it's great that so many of you have found your niche. What is being overlooked in this discussion it the second part of the advice, to write a short story EVERY week, to write 52 in a year. The advice is not to just start with writing short stories. It's to write a lot of them. I imagine if you put the same practice into novel writing and did a chapter a week, you would have two or three novels by the end of the year.

    When I took on this challenge a short story was written, edited, polished and submitted by the end of the week. If you replace short stories with novel chapters, well, you would have two or three to shop around by the end of the year. I think we can all agree that, novels or short stories, this challenge requires you to write and produce a lot. Because I had done it with short stories, I tried it with a novel, writing a chapter a week. I made a pretty good dent in my novel, but I found it harder to keep up with than I did with the short stories. I think a lot of it has to do with other things that were going on in my life. I do plan to return to writing a chapter a week at some point soon and finish that book. But I couldn't do a chapter a week for a year straight. I'm pretty prolific, but I don't ever see myself writing two or three novels in a year. Now, fifty-two short stories, bring it on. Though, that was really hard I would do it again. The second part of this advice sets up a routine. You don't even realize how much writing you're doing. Also, I never had writers block or anything close to it. There simply wasn't time with all the writing I had signed up to do.
     
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  8. cutecat22

    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    I never once mentioned one being more complex than the other. Not once.

    I did say that within a novel, you have more space to explore the back lanes of characters etc. That does not mean it's more complex.
     
  9. cutecat22

    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    I'm sorry but I don't write to a timetable. And I'm not going to even try because I know I can't do that. Which is why I think it's very wrong for any author to try and tell someone how to do it.

    By all means, tell people what you do, what works for you, what doesn't, but don't then lay that down as a path for someone to follow.

    A friend of mine wants to write a book. She asked me to lay down an few rules for her. I refused. I told her what worked for me and then outlined a few other ways and told her she needed to find what works for her. She does - and always has - worked to a timetable so we sat down together and she worked out a timetable for herself.
     
  10. cutecat22

    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    Show me, highlight the word "complex" in my section of that comment.
     
  11. BayView

    BayView Contributor Contributor

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    If you want to hone your skills in both, go for it, obviously... do you mean which one to hone first?

    Honestly, I'd start with novels. I think they're easier to sell, and selling makes the whole writing game a lot more fun!
     
  12. Wolf Daemon

    Wolf Daemon Active Member

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    Again look back in the comments and you will see. I find it silly that you feel the need to ignore your own words but ok?
     
  13. BayView

    BayView Contributor Contributor

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    No, dude, she's ignoring the words you put in her mouth, not her own words.

    But, seriously, if she had said novels were more complex? I'd have supported her in that. They're not longer because they just stretch out the same stuff to an extended length, they're longer because they add more stuff. Which makes them more complex.

    So if you want to argue with someone about whether novels or short stories are more complex, you can argue with me. I'm now the only person in this thread who's actually made the claim.
     
  14. Wolf Daemon

    Wolf Daemon Active Member

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    Which then makes writing Short shorts the way to go again (for both of you) because it can show the basics of writing a novel.
     
  15. Wolf Daemon

    Wolf Daemon Active Member

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    I think that writing short shorts would ultimately help a new writer out more because it gives them the basics of creative writing but also allows them to search through different genres and types of stories to find their own voice. Trying to do that in a novel in the same fashion (chapter by chapter) would make a wonky book that goes in every which direction. Now for experienced authors I would say that the chapter a week definitely would help and is something I probably should be doing myself to quicken the pace of my own book.
     
  16. BayView

    BayView Contributor Contributor

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    No, because the basics of writing a novel are not the same as the basics of writing a short story.

    Maybe we need to get into specifics? (Or give up... give up is looking fairly attractive... but one more try...)

    For me, when I started writing, I needed to learn a lot about pacing, transitions, how to balance sub-plots and plots...what else? Characterization and dialogue came pretty naturally, and I'm not a descriptive writer so I didn't really worry about that... I already knew proper grammar and how to make sentences flow properly...

    I can't think of much I needed to learn that I could have learned from writing short stories. And I don't really like writing short stories, so I think I likely would have gotten discouraged if I'd forced myself to stick to them.

    For some people? Sure, short stories are great. For everyone? No, of course not.
     
  17. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    I'm not putting down a path for anyone to follow, as you say. I didn't start this thread and I didn't come up with this advice. But a few years back, I tried it. I didn't think sharing my experience or opinion was telling anyone what they should or shouldn't do.
     
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  18. Wolf Daemon

    Wolf Daemon Active Member

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    Yeah she's kind of upity at the moment so don't worry about it too much. I think writing each week is very important and something I try to do (even if I may not always reach my goal).
     
  19. cutecat22

    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    I didn't mean you personally.
     
  20. cutecat22

    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    Really? I'm uppity?
    You think?

    It's been assumed I'm a man and all of my words have been twisted to cause an argument. I have been nothing but supportive of everyone on here.

    So yeah, I'm bloody uppity!
     
  21. Wolf Daemon

    Wolf Daemon Active Member

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    Not really sure if you're being serious or not honestly so I will simply put this down to help you out:

    Both Short Shorts to Novels basics are:
    • Understanding how to write dialog
    • How to create a story arc (while short shorts have smaller ones they still are story arcs)
    • Descriptive writing (for those that do)
    • How to form proper sentences
    • Having your own form of writing (we each have different ways we write things and describe them)

    Writing short shorts also gives one the ability to search for their own voice and figuring out what they like to write most if they don't already know.

    Yes when you get down to being more serious at writing Short Shorts they give skills specific to them but the BASICS, which is what we are talking about, is all the same.
     
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  22. cutecat22

    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    You don't have to write shorts to be able to write novels.

    Writing shorts may help you on some level but it won't help you determine how to extend a number of plots that weave in and out of a long story, when to start each part, how to bring in the parts you need in the main story without losing the reader and how to (including how many) pull them all together at the end. (Or leave a cliffhanger).

    Understanding and writing good shorts doesn't mean that you can transfer that skill to writing good novels.
     
  23. cutecat22

    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    And to be honest, you never stop learning. While ever you are writing, you are constantly learning. It would be wrong to assume that writing a short a week for a year would result in you suddenly knowing how to then write a novel on the 366th day.
     
  24. BayView

    BayView Contributor Contributor

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    Well, how to form proper sentences is a bit more "basic" than I can ever remember being. If someone can't form proper sentences... I guess, sure, they could try writing shorts. Or just try writing sentences...

    And I'd say that "how to create a story arc" is actually one of those items that needs to be unlearned between writing short stories and writing novels - I mostly write novels, but when I try to write a short one of the things I struggle with most is how to leave behind my "add subplots, add twists, add a series of climaxes on the way to the major climax mentality". So in terms of learning to write novels via shorts, I'd say that one's an argument in the opposite direction.

    At least for me. Variety, right? If writing shorts was a good way for you to learn to write novels, that's fantastic. I'm glad it worked for you.
     
  25. Wolf Daemon

    Wolf Daemon Active Member

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    And now you are talking about the more complex stuff which aren't the basics. The extra stuff for writing a novel (short shorts have extra things as well). But I am talking about the basics of writing. And understanding the basics of writing which can be easier achieved via short shorts will help you a lot especially helping you (like it helped me) figure out your voice, your favored genre to write in, and the basics of story telling. All which can be transferred to writing a novel quite easily.

    And again you somehow are missing what I am saying. It will give you the basics and a direction, it won't allow you to instantly know the more complex components of writing a novel, but it will give you the starting tools to do so.
     

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