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.

Best Submission Rejection Ever

"Catherine, at this time, we don't handle projects with swearing in them."