In today’s Journal
* Quotes of the Day
* Another Myth
* The Novel
* Of Interest
Quotes of the Day
“Write a short story every week. It’s not possible to write 52 bad short stories in a row.” Ray Bradbury
“A short story is a love affair, a novel is a marriage. A short story is a photograph; a novel is a film.” Lorrie Moore
“The short story is about One Event; longer fiction is about a series of interrelated or connected events.” Harvey Stanbrough
“Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” Abraham Lincoln
we hear too often and seldom talk about: “The writing in a short story has to be more intense and more tightly focused, and the use of the language has to be more economical.”
This myth persists presumably because a short story is, well, short. At least shorter than a novel. But is it true? Uh, no.
Chances are, the folks who are trying to convince you of this “truth” are making money selling nonfiction books that propagate the myth.
Hmm, I just had an idea for my own next how-to book. I won’t spoil it here, but it will be available in the next couple of months, I’m sure. Not that those who read today’s post and the Journal itself will need it, and not that most writers will believe what I write in it anyway. But the few who do will find a whole new world they never new existed.
If the myth were true—if the writing in a short story has to be more intense and more tightly focused, and the use of the language has to be more economical—then conversely that would mean the writing in a novel can be less intense and less tightly focused, and the use of the language less economical.
Does that make sense? You have to write short stories cleanly and tightly because they’re short, but it’s all right to be sloppy in a novel just because it’s longer? C’mon, man. You know that doesn’t make sense.
Well, with one caveat: If you’re writing flash fiction (double-digit fiction), yes, you have to watch words, use contractions, etc. to be sure the story comes in at 99 words or fewer, not including the title. Otherwise it isn’t flash fiction.
But otherwise, a story is a story is a story. The only difference is the number of Events that take place. A short story is a story about one event, period.
A short story can wrap anywhere from 1,999 words (short short), 6,999 (short story), or 9,999 words (novelette or long short story). Of course, you don’t set out to write a particular length. You just write the story and let it be whatever length it needs to be.
Any longer form (novella or novel) is about more than one interrelated or connected events. You can see this plainly in A Rough New World, the novella I posted yesterday as the Free Story of the Week. You can read it at https://harveystanbroughwrites.com/a-rough-new-world/.
In that story, because some the events are happening simultaneously, each is separated into it’s own little container. There are other ways of presenting such a story, but that is the way I chose for this particular story.
Had I tried to write all of the events as simultaneously as they happened, the story would be a garbled, convouluted mess. You might also look at the novella as a collection of five short stories that interconnect to tell the overall tale.
So when you think about writing a story, Just Write. If the story naturally wraps at under 10,000 words, it’s a short story of one type or another. If it keeps going, go with it. It will either wrap as a novella or a novel. If it keeps going after that, you’ve got a series on your hands.
And another myth: Writing a short story requires a different skill set.
Again, um, no. In a short story, as in a novella or novel, the characters are living a story. All the things you’ve subliminially or consciously learned about description, pacing, structure, etc. come into play.
Again, the ONLY difference is that the short story is about One Event and the longer forms are about more than one interrelated or interconnect events.
And yes, you may quote me.
Although I came to the Hovel early in order to write, there were still other things I had to do in my routine: read, put the finishing touches on the Journal, and so on. So I didn’t write as much as I’d hoped, but I only had an hour of writing time, so it’s all good.
While my son’s visiting that takes priority. I’ll write fiction as I can. I’m out of the woods with critical voice now and the story is flowing so no worries.
Talk with you again soon.
See “Flash Sale On December Regular Workshops” at https://deanwesleysmith.com/flash-sale-on-december-regular-workshops/.
See “Down in the Writing Weeds” at https://killzoneblog.com/2022/11/down-in-the-writing-weeds.html. A rare good post. A few gems in this one. I left a comment (not that it will change his mind, but it might make sense to others). Just can’t seem to avoid poking the bear.
See “Two Bites of the Apple on Kindle Vella” at https://www.thepassivevoice.com/two-bites-of-the-apple-on-kindle-vella/.
The Journal…………………………………… 860 words
Writing of The Stirchians (novel, tentative title)
Day 21… 2621 words. Total words to date…… 42178
Day 22… 5133 words. Total words to date…… 47309
Day 23… 1240 words. Total words to date…… 48549
Total fiction words for November……… 22440
Total fiction words for the year………… 183965
Total nonfiction words for November… 14470
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 190100
Total words for the year (fiction and this blog)…… 374065
Calendar Year 2022 Novels to Date…………………… 2
Calendar Year 2022 Novellas to Date……………… 0
Calendar Year 2022 Short Stories to Date… 0
Novels (since Oct 19, 2014)…………………………………… 68
Novellas (since Nov 1, 2015)………………………………… 8
Short stories (since Apr 15, 2014)………………… 217
Short story collections……………………………………………… 31
Disclaimer: Because It Makes Sense, I preach trusting your characters to tell the story that they, not you, are living. Duh. This practice greatly increases your productivity and provides a rapid ascension along the learning curve of Craft because you get a great deal more practice at actually writing. This is not opinion. It is all numbers and facts.