Friday, 4 May 2012

Novelist, Short Story Writer or Both?

Good news on the short story; I've got it down to the 2,000 words I was aiming for. It's now having a 'rest' while I finish sorting out my formatting issues.

When my story finally reaches it's destination I want to ensure that not only is the story good, but it's appearance is right too, so it gives the editor no extra work- if it gets to the accepted point...

The mention of short stories in the interview between bloggers Rosemary Gemmell and Patsy Collins, started me thinking.

Patsy has had a lot of short stories published in Women's Magazines and elsewhere, but has recently seen the publication of her debut novel 'Escape to the Country'- I read it recently and really enjoyed the heart-warming tale which left me smiling by the last page.

When asked about the transition from short-story to novel, Patsy said, " I began a short story that I couldn't seem to end. After a while I stopped trying to keep it short and turned it into a novel."

I can sympathise, that is the problem I have all the time. I come up with an idea that I think is a short story but it quickly becomes clear that it isn't. It's a bigger story with sub plots, more characters and action, that my mind knows is a novel/novella before I've consciously accepted it.

Yes, it's important to be able to write short stories, as they help you learn many of the skills you will later need for writing a novel. I realised that a long time ago.

I started a novel in 1999 and got to 40,000 words, and where I'd originally envisioned the end; but it had become obvious that a) I was only half way through the story- I had a lot of scenes in my head (they're still there too) and b) I needed to learn a lot of writing skills to do it properly.

Some writers are poets, some prose writers, while others can do both. So perhaps there is a similar situation here- some are novelists, others are content to write short stories only, and the rest can do both quite happily.

I'd like to do both, but my creative mind seems reluctant...


Rosemary Gemmell said...

Thanks for mentioning the interview, Carol! I still like writing both short stories and novels and find it all depends on the story I'm trying to tell.

Anonymous said...

I find short stories & novels are two completely different skills for me.Shorts require you to cut to the chase ASAP and paint characters and settings with only a few words but novels require an extra depth, which I have yet to master.

Keith Havers said...

Maybe you're trying too hard with your short stories. In many of the successful ones nothing much happens but there is a clever twist at the end.
I think sometimes you have to let the story decide what it wants to be. In the past I've written a short story but the words and phrases have resonated in my head and it's morphed into a poem with very little conscious effort on my part.

Linda King said...

I keep thinking I need to stop writing short stories in order to get on with my novel, but I think it's probably good to have several projects on the go. My main problem is that my short story style is different to my novel style and I have trouble separating the two in my mind. I guess just writing anything and seeing where it takes you is the key!

Carolb said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Carolb said...

You have clearly found a happy medium between novels and stories that works well for you, Rosemary.:-)

You've highlighted my problem area Sally, but with short stories.

You are probably right, Keith. I think some of it is because my short stories are set in the current time, while my novels are always set in the past, and I'm much more comfortable with that aspect.

That sounds a good strategy you suggest, Linda, thanks.

Patsy said...

I think Keith's right about letting the story decide what it wants to be. Sometimes it's obvious that the initial idea will either be a short story or a much longer piece, but other times we don't really know what will be involved until we start writing.