Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Differences Between a Short Story and a Novel #4

Difference #4: Subplots

Usually the short story can’t support a subplot. If there is too much going on, the reader will find it hard going. The piece generally concerns one basic storyline, one or two themes at the most and no more than two or three characters.

In a novel, subplots give the story a new dimension. They provide layers, texture, complications, back story and crank up the tension. But at the same time they need to run parallel and drive the main conflict.
Introducing new characters deepens the story and keeps the reader interested. Also, they show hidden impulses behind actions of the major characters. But they must happen for a reason and move the story forward. Also be sure to connect and relate them to your main plot. Eventually they have to be resolved by the end of the story.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Differences Between A Short Story and a Novel #3

Difference #3: Plot

Short stories can get away with a slice of life that resolves quickly. They usually focus on one aspect of a character’s life.

In a novel, the difference lies in the size of the problem and, usually, in the number of characters. The issues are generally deeper and can expand in more than one direction.

Novel readers get hooked on a plot that keeps them awake until the small hours. It’s a good idea to introduce the story early on with a sense of plot that grows organically out of character. It’s a kind of blueprint for constructing a gripping sequence of events. Think of it as the glue that holds the story together. It should be flexible enough not to constrain and structured enough to make it a page-turning tale. A character wants something (even if he/she won’t admit it), followed by a series of linked events that get in the way. Event A must cause Event B and so on all the way to Event Z at the end. There should be rising action as the stakes get higher. However, the line doesn’t have to be straight. It can grow in zig-zag fashion. After a particular intense action, you could have a quieter event.

All plots should have a beginning and an ending. In the beginning your character has a goal. In the middle, the character tries to reach that goal. In the end, there must be a sense of resolution, of life changing or returning to some sort of normality.

I’ll cover sub-plots later.

Remember: Create a drama, not a melodrama!

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Differences Between a Short Story and a Novel # 2

Difference # 2: Pacing

Pacing controls the speed and rhythm in your narrative. It's a literary technique that determines the story's appeal. In a novel, you're going to have to convince your reader to keep going for longer. Pacing is affected by the number of plot events in  your story (quickening the pace), as well as the level of detail (slowing the pace). Variation and balance is the key

How well you handle the pacing is determined by the complexity and sustainability of your main idea. You can control the pace through mix up, which means using short sentences and active verbs in intense action scenes, and details for slower-paced scenes. Writers use pace by choosing the exact words. In short, pacing is moving a story forward with a certain speed.

Elements of Pacing

Let us see a few important pacing elements:
  • Action – An action scene dramatizes the significant events of the story and shows what happens in a story.
  • Cliffhanger – When the end of a chapter or scene is left hanging, naturally the pace picks up, because readers would turn the pages to see what happens next.
  • Dialogue – A rapid fire dialogue with less information is captivating, swift and invigorates scenes.
  • Word Choice – The language itself is a means of pacing, like using concrete words, active voice and sensory information.
If you're a short story writer, pace is important but easier to regulate. Lucky you!

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Differences Between a Short Story and a Novel #1

My first in a series of differences between a short story and a novel.

A teacher once told her class that a novel is just a short story, only longer. Length is true, but there is so much more.

I found this out the hard way. I began a short story 24 years ago and gradually developed it into a novel by sheer perseverance.  Here's what I discovered:

Overall difference:
  • A novel is a journey, not only for the characters, but for the writer and the reader.
  • A short story is an intense experience--something to linger over and savor.
Difference One: Length

A novel is a larger scale project that takes a lot more stamina than a short story. I takes so long to write that you must have a complex and sustainable idea. You have to be ready for the long haul and to commit yourself to a large amount of writing time.

It's easy to lose track of your writing,  I am not an outline keeper. For me, it would kill the muse. I discovered the story by writing it. At least I had completed the short story. Novel development is complicated. Some novelists keep chapter summaries in a spreadsheet or use software to organize chapters and scenes. I  plodded forward by the seat of my pants. Wrote chapters out of sequence and fitted them in as I went along. Difficult to manage, perhaps, but my right brain insists on chaos. I envy writers who can outline, develop a synopsis, create characters and scenes before even beginning the novel. Would I write another novel in the same fashion?  Absolutely!

There are as many different novel methods as there are writers. I had only a vague idea of what would happen in the story until I finished it. But I had a Marine with PTSD, his dog, and the dialogue between them. The plot developed from there.

Progress On My Second Novel

The main problem in my second novel is drawing out the female protagonist. She is 21, admitted to a psych ward of a hospital after a suicide...