Monday, 3 October 2011

Why Do My Ideas Want To be Novels?

I had a slight problem the other day. A character that is going to be in my entry for the annual Mail on Sunday Novel Competition intruded into a piece of flash fiction I was writing. Suddenly Jennifer became Miranda- who on earth was Miranda? The character I was writing about at the time was most definitely a Jennifer...
Later that night as I was settling down to sleep Miranda explained who she was and that she was in my competition entry.

Now the competition mentioned above only requires 50-150 words of an opening to a novel with the word ROW used- fortunately the novel doesn't also have to be written, because if it did it would have to go on the waiting list...

This is where my problem starts- and this happens a lot now- what I think is going to be a short story will, by the time I've jotted down the ideas, have become part of a much larger and longer story. And I know from past experience that a story that goes that way just doesn't work by itself...

I know I should be glad that I have all these stories and characters buzzing around in my sub-conscious and I can fill my notebooks up with details to return to later, but I'm beginning to worry whether I can ever manage to come up with an idea that stays as a short story and doesn't want to be anything longer.

When I started seriously writing again- after many years of nothing-it was as much as I could do to write a 1,000 word short story, but as the years have gone by the natural length of my stories has increased: 1200-1300; 1,500 then 1,900 and now I'm having difficulty trying to get a story I've been working on to a 2,000 word length, when it actually needs to have another couple of hundred words, but it will then become an in-between length- not liked by some magazines...

Perhaps this is just a phase my writing is going through and in a few months I'll be coming up with nothing but short story ideas.

But at least I've got the ideas, so now I need to get on with some of them.

If you are interested in the start of a novel competition, Womag published the details on her blog last month, so go there. Good luck if you enter.


  1. I find my writing goes in phases - sometimes I can't stick to one idea and my short stories become epics, other times what I think is a big idea reaches it's conclusion in a page and a half.

  2. Thanks Patsy, there may be hope for me and short stories yet.

  3. Good luck with that entry, Carol! I can empathise with the problem of characters wanting to be other than what we expect of them. Sounds like you're meant to be a novelist!

  4. Hi Carol - I'm wondering whether you should give writing a novel a go! You can still do the short stories at the same time. Perhaps 'your muse' is trying to tell you something!

  5. You're probably right Diane.
    I'm currently writing a novella, which might end up as a suitable pocket novel; plus I have a synopsis and first three chapters of what I refer to as my Dorset novel, which I will be returning to after the novella is done.

    When I started writing again after many years of not writing, the first project I started was a novel. I got to the 40,000 words stage and realised it needed further thought.
    I will go back to it one day...


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