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  1. Slappydappy

    Slappydappy Member

    Dec 22, 2011
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    Do Short Stories require the same structure and elements of a full fledged Novel?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Slappydappy, Jun 14, 2012.

    Here is why I am asking this. I am entering a short story into a contest (Writers of the Future). Most of my ideas are novel length ideas that can't be smooshed into 30 pages. However, I had a dream one night, and I woke up and wrote my entire dream down. Now I am evolving it into a short story. It's short enough and will be the right length. It's a sci-fi story and has to do with the world ending (sort of) and some people making their peace before it's over. There is some stuff missing though:

    1. Antagonist. There isn't really a powerful antagonist bent on destroying or stopping anyone from doing anything.

    2. Conflict. The story is so short that there isn't much conflict.

    However, there is a main character, with a desire, and there is conflict up until he gets it. But I feel that, in the short span of pages, I am rushed into all these things. Does it matter if a short story contains a powerful antagonistic force that is upsetting the protagonist's life and stopping him from getting what he wants?

    I am trying to inject much more conflict into the story as I can, but are people more lenient with short stories? Or does everything that apply to a Novel apply to a short story as well?

    Sorry if that question is confusing. I assume the answer is "yes", and every story must have the same elements to be successful. But I am more wondering about the intensity (and density) of the conflict, and if it has to equal a Novel in power.
  2. Cogito

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    May 19, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Massachusetts, USA
    Plot requires conflict, whether internal or external.

    The primary difference between short stories and novels is that short stories require a tight focus. Everything in the story needs to move that central plot forward.

    A short story generally focuses on a single main character, and possibly a single antagonist. There is little or no room for subplots or other distractions.

    Spend some time reading good short stories, to get a feel for how they stay on a tight track.
  3. Cayo Costa

    Cayo Costa New Member

    Jun 14, 2012
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    I work mainly in short stories (the idea of trying to put together a novel scares me) and this question... Gah. Hard. Can't say what I want to say, really. Not smart enough.

    So I'll say this instead: I'm not entirely well-versed in the world of lit mags yet but I know there are a lot of online ones out there and that when dealing with fiction they are almost always dealing with short stories. So I can't name any off the top of my head but I'm sure there are a lot of online lit mags hanging around that feature, specifically, science-fiction short stories. This would be published work, in your genre, and so you might want to look there when considering how you want to frame and present your conflict? Let it expand your horizon.

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