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Author Topic: Prequel Short Stories before Novel
Member # 8501

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I am in the midst of writing a fantasy novel. In doing some world building and character background, my main character has some interesting experiences that won't add to the novel as flashbacks. They are, however, ideal settings for a couple of short stories.

My question is, while writing a novel, is it OK to write a short stories about the same MC and submit them? Does this create any issues impeding selling the novel? Are there any problems in referring to the actions in the short stories within the novel?

I was thinking of submitting one to WOTF.

Any thoughts or experiences?

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Bent Tree
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If anything it would only create interest in the novel if the short story was published. Look at 'Enders Game'. It was a short story published in one of the big three and almost a direct exerpt from the novel.
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Member # 8297

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What a great question. I'm struggling with the same thing right now, too. I've a story in the same setting as the novel I am writing, involving a similar group of characters. It could possibly work as a prologue, but... I don't think I really want to do a prologue. They've just been done to death, imo.
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Member # 6896

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Currently I'm world building a near future intermediate future setting and timeline and have a short story which uses less than half of my world building materials that I intend to use. I don't know if this helps, but I'm going to be working on multiple projects in this setting.
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Member # 2651

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When you are looking to sell a novel, you are looking to sell a novel. Not the world, not the characters. Just the words in that novel. Your creations are otherwise entirely yours to do with as you see fit.

It is possible that a publisher MAY, once you sell, want to contract exclusive use of stories in that world/featuring those characters for a certain time - i.e. if you agree to sell three books about Bongo the Barbarian, they may well not want you trying to hawk other Bongo the Barbarian books to other publishers. But they are unlikely to care about Bongo the Barbarian short stories, and less likely to care about a story featuring Kettledrum the Civilised, who happened to turn up in one chapter of Bongo's story. And they are very unlikely to refuse to buy your Bongo novel just because Bongo has already appeared in Brlliant Barbarian Stories issue 12.

It is possible that having short stories featuring a character or world MAY increase interest in your novel. But don't count on it. Short story and novel readerships overlap less than you might think.

(I speak as someone who has sold nine stories to date, to six different markets, featuring the same character, and who is in the process of writing novels for that character - some of which may actually include some of the short stories (in modified form); the latter IS an issue in that until the exclusivity clause of the short story is over you CAN'T sell the novel, and you MUST let the publisher know if parts of the novel have been published elsewhere, as opposed to separate stories featuring the character. It's not likely to be a show-stopper but you HAVE to be clear about it upfront)

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Jeff Baerveldt
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Have you heard of Patrick Rothfuss? Publishing a short story that had the same character and setting as his novel helped him sell his novel. Here's an except from his bio, which you can find on his blog (http://www.patrickrothfuss.com/content/index.asp).
While wandering through college, Pat learned he had a knack for writing. He wrote poetry for a local literary series, a satirical advice column for the local paper, and scripts for a radio comedy show. Two months before he graduated, Pat finally finished the project he had been working on for over seven years, a mammoth story centering around the life of a man named Kvothe.

After two excruciating years of grad school, Pat returned to teach at the University he had grown to love as a student. During this time his book was rejected by roughly every agent in the known universe. In 2002 a piece of Pat's novel, cleverly disguised as a short story, won first place in the Writers of the Future contest. Pat's story, The Road to Levinshir, was published in Volume 18 of their anthology, and they flew him out to their fabulous writers workshop in LA.

It was at that workshop that Pat met Kevin Anderson, who introduced him to his agent, Matt Bialer. Eventually Matt brought Pat in contact with his current, beloved editor, Betsy Wollheim, president of Daw Books.

And that's how the Name of the Wind came into existence.

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Member # 8108

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Has anyone ever heard of the short story, "Ender's Game"?

(Before the novel)

Edited to add: I really need to read the various posts better. I missed Bent Tree's reference. Sorry.

[This message has been edited by philocinemas (edited March 20, 2009).]

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Member # 7299

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Enders Game was a novella, but that's just splitting hairs.

That is not only a good idea but a great marketing stragedy. If your work is any good, and you manage to sell your short story, it will be an extra carrot for an agent to wag in front of there nose. One thing I am not sure of, does WotF revert the rights back to you if your story is printed in there anthology? You may want to consider submitting any short story to another SFWA market first.

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Member # 8329

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Jeff's example is what sprang to my mind as well - the short answer being that it's a perfectly viable approach.
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Robert Nowall
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If you've got 'em in your head, write 'em...if you've got 'em written out, send 'em out. Especially if the big novel hasn't been published...and if it has, seems to me any harm would be outweighed by the good.
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