Everything I write seems to be bigger then a short story and I am wondering if anyone else has the same problem. Maybe I'm thinking too big (subconciously??)or is it just natural for new writers to do this?
Posts: 287 | Registered: Jul 2006
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I have had that problem, and the inverted version: writing something I know should take 100,000 or more words, but tending to conclude it in under seven.
I don't know if it will help or hurt, but I'm really beginning to think of a short story as an issue that needs resolved. A novel might have five or ten good issues, but to me a short storie focuses on only one (or resolves only one). Then add characterization and setting, and vwallah...short story.
[This message has been edited by InarticulateBabbler (edited January 07, 2008).]
Yes, my stories tend to grow. I have a couple of pieces of flash that want to be short stories, and a short that's growing into a series of three novellas. I like to think it's called "creativity" and "enrichening character and milieu."
Mind, forcing myself to cut an idea down from a short into flash for one of the challenges did make it a tighter, better story, even though now it wants to grow again in the revision.
Some people cannot write long, others cannot write short. I could not write short.
Much of it depends on how your ideas are "designed". Also how you write makes a difference. I write based on a scene or situation, building to that point and then finishing past it. Others will create their world, their characters, the environment, then place their characters into the world with a goal and watch where it goes. The world building model is great for creating novels. You already know where your characters have to go and what they will face along the way, and if you develop your character right, you will know how they will react when they meet the challanges. The scene-situation model is great for short stories, but can also be used for novels. The big difference is that the scene-situation model does not start with a character or developed world, unless you already have it created. Mine are interchangable for the most part.
For years, I did not know how to end something. The story would go on and on. One such piece was about twenty pages from being finished when I gave up, and it turned out to be my first rough draft novel.
What really helped me to write short, and then write long better, was to take a writing workshop class where the stuff you wrote had to be four pages double spaced. For the class I did scenes, not stories. I could not write that short.
I then spent a summer writing short stories, aiming at four pages single spaced. I actually accomplished it once, then, my brother who gave the concept to me said I missed a couple key scenes. What that did, though, was to teach me how to write endings.
the past six months, The story ideas I post elsewhere are becoming more and more like badly written short stories, rather than discribing about what a novel might look like.
I'm one of those who seems destined to write only novels. I'm doing my best to write a short story right now, and it keeps "evolving"!!! It's over 3000 words right now and it's nowhere near finished! I THOUGHT I had it limited in scope enough that it would be a short, but the characters and world are intriguing enough that I can see them as a series! ARGH! I really need a short for an anthology I've been invited to participate in!!! I keep putting off working on it because I can't see a way to keep it short. I suppose I'll just have to go back to work on it and see how it evolves rather than procrastinating as I have been about it. *sigh*
Posts: 415 | Registered: Jul 2006
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I write both short stories and novels, though I'm still struggling with working out the best way for me to write novels. For both, I've found that the more a story is thought through, the easier it is to write, and the better the final product.
When I first started writing, I wrote only short stories and did so without any planning, just sort of letting the story flow out onto the page. While that has worked for some short stories, it hasn't worked well for all of them, nor has it been an efficient way to write for me. By thinking my story through at least part way before starting, I found that there was far less to cut.
Another thing I found about my writing, was that I was rambling with my short stories, letting things kind of go where they wanted to. The end result was many novelettes that really should have been shorts. By looking carefully at the story itself, I found I could cut entire sections of the story and make it much more concise. I've found myself cutting up to half of the length of a rough draft of a novelette for a finished story. Like William Faulkner once said, you have to kill your darlings.
To give a more common example, think of a movie that you've seen at a theater, and on TV. Most of the TV versions have entire scenes cut out of them to shorten them, but these scenes are only missed if you saw the big screen version first. See it in the reverse order, and you start to wonder why they left certain things out. Director's cuts are also usually much longer.
Everything between 8 and 29 manuscript pages is a short story--and everything between 30 and 69 is a novelette. Though I aim for under 30 pages, I tend, even after editing, to end up on the novelette side of the line.
[This message has been edited by ChrisOwens (edited January 07, 2008).]
There's the story of the writer who ended a lengthy letter with, "Please excuse the length of this letter, as I did not have time to be brief."
I think it's harder to write a good short story than a good novel---but I'm devoted to the form and have trouble sustaining myself beyond a certain length. I've had some progress lengthening things lately (my last story ran twenty thousand words and I got a hundred thousand into a novel before coming up for breath).
You basically have to tell everything in a short story that you would tell in a novel, but in as few words as possible. That means nearly everything has to go to make it so.
(Yet I keep getting told my short stories are thin...)
Chris - those page counts you gave - is that with all the text double-spaced, or single-spaced with double-spacingn between paragraphs or what? Just wanting to be sure, because your page counts make me feel not so bad about the length of my story so far! But if it's completely double-spaced, I'm back to square one - my story's gonna be way too long with those page counts, I'm sure! LOL!
In the US, the standard paper size for submissions is letter, not legal, so it's pretty close to A4 as far as how much fits on a page. Also, standard manuscript format is straight double space even between paragraphs.
Here's a link to a PDF file from Vonda McIntyre from SFWA that explains it clearly through example.