So, I started writing again in October when I got the itch to finish a novel I started 10 years ago. Instead, I started writing short stories, hoping this would help me figure out HOW to write. Back then, I told myself I couldn’t write and gave up on it completely.
This time around, I realize you can learn to write, to some extent, so I’ve been focusing on short stories. I took 4 online writing classes which taught me a TON! They are here:
- Ed2Go: Write Fiction Like a Pro
- Ed2Go: Writing the Fantasy Novel
- How to Write Flash Fiction that Doesn’t Suck! (This one’s FREE!)
- Start Writing Fiction (This one’s FREE too!)
Well, my first “short story” ended up at 11,000 words and I chose to expand it into a novel again. (Long story here: I’ll Never Write Another Novel! (I thought)) Funny that the Novel I intended to finish back in October is in a drawer again. It’s a vampire novel and I really don’t know if the world needs another one of those. To my defense, I started writing it pre-Twilight. I may still finish this during July’s Camp NaNoWriMo and put it on Wattpad. Why do some characters insist you tell their stories?
Anyway, now that I’ve written 30+ Short stories since October and another novel (that’s 2 ½ I’ve completed) I was reflecting on the difference between them. Here is what I’ve discovered.
- I thought that in short stories EVERY word mattered, but novels were more forgiving. That’s not true. Every word matters, no matter what you are writing.
- You need to narrow the idea down a TON for a short story, otherwise the plot gets out of hand and you end up with a novel crammed into a 10,000 word story. (I have 6 of these saved on my computer that I don’t know what to do with yet.) Novels have the full 3 act structure. Short stories still need a beginning, middle, and an end, but they need to be less complex.
- Break the novel down into scenes and treat each scene like a short story. Focus on making each scene a perfect story. This is probably the most successful thing I do that made me reach the end of my current project. It simplifies the whole process and keeps me going.
- Novels have more of everything: more characters, more plots/subplots, and more words. This complexity makes it harder to track what you’ve said already and what you’ve haven’t and you need some method of organization.
- Just when I would get sick of a short story, it was done. A novel takes much longer. You get more attached to the characters, the story, and the problem, but yet, it is hard to finish because at some point you just want to be done and you know you have a lot to do yet.
- Finding someone to read and give you feedback is much harder for a novel. (Though, finding a good beta reader or any readers in general.)
What do you feel are the biggest differences between writing the different length projects? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
(Photo from morguefile.com)