Why are we comparing short stories to novels?

Hi, guys!

Recently, in one of the many writing groups that I’m a part of, someone asked if people write short stories when they give up on writing a novel. As if writing a short story were something that could just be done with no thought or skill, whatsoever, because supposedly, it’s the easiest thing to write.

And that kinda stuck with me.

I was just flabbergasted.

That level of prejudice toward a type of story just… hadn’t occurred to me before then. I write stories of all lengths, flash fiction, short stories, novellas, novels, and now, series. So, I know that each one poses its own unique challenges.

No single one of these defines a writer’s skill.

None of them denote having given up.

Series require the solution to some problems, but the tension of certain things left undone for the next book. The characters have to develop and grow (or fall apart). They have to encounter one stumbling block after another, without it reading as if you’re literally just trying to draw the story out to make money on a second book. Or a third. Or a seventeenth.

Novels require all the loose ends to be tidied up by the end of the book, and hopefully enough intrigue to carry the reader to that point. Throwing in just enough obstacles to carry the characters (and the readers) through 70,000 to 110,000 words is a difficult balance to strike.

Novellas and novelettes have to operate on a smaller scale or go out with one hell of a bang. You have to choose your words carefully to get the exact right meaning across, which should be done regardless of book length, but especially so when you don’t have the word count to spare. And you have so much less space to truly develop your characters. It can be done, but it can be a challenge.

And then, there’s short stories and flash fiction.

Building a world, developing characters, and putting together a plot (then wrapping it up) in less than 7,500 words for a short story or less than 1,000 words for flash fiction is not an easy feat.

You have to grab people so quick. You have to make them give a shit about the character immediately.

Because there aren’t enough words not to.

So to say that failed novel writers become short story writers is a load of bullshit.

Writing short stories instead of novels has nothing to do with whether an author is successful or creative or smart. What it truly comes down to is the number of words it takes to successfully express a given story.

That’s it.

Some stories are meant to be a series that keeps you hanging on from one book to another. Some are meant to come in, punch you in the face with 700 words, and leave you reeling.

That’s just how it goes.

The stories should decide what length they are.

The writer’s skill or work ethic has nothing to do with it.

So, if you write short stories or flash fiction, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Your work poses it’s own unique set of difficulties.

Overcome them and show those judgmental jerks who’s boss.

Now, as far as my own work is concerned, I’ve been forging ahead on projects of varying lengths over this past week.

I did a full round of edits on a short story called Born of Heathen Gods. I’m torn between releasing it on its own or saving it back for an anthology, down the road.

I made some progress on this round of edits on Where Darkness Leads, cutting out over 1,000 words of info dumps/repetition so far.

And I’ve written over 5,000 words in The Regonia Chronicles. Some pieces are falling into place within book two, and I’m pretty excited to keep moving ahead.

Just not tonight.

Today’s 12 hour shift in the sweaty ass tire factory really took it out of me.

So for now…

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

Three Types of Writers and What They Might Mean For You

Hi, guys!

There are so many ways to write a book. Every author has their own method, their own process. But there are a few basic types of writers that most can agree on, though some have different names for them.

For all the readers out there who are curious and for all the writers just looking to figure out where you fall (maybe you’re looking for a group of like-minded writers to seek out tips on streamlining the process you prefer, but need a name for your group), I’ll be going over three types of writers.

There’s the pantser, the plantser, and the plotter.

Basically, it’s a range of planning.

Plotters do ALL the planning.

They’ll take personality tests as their characters, building in depth profiles for every single one. They might spend months or even years building their world, ironing out every detail of that realm’s history, weather patterns, physics, and magic before ever putting down a single word of prose.

And they need that.

A lot of plotters feel lost or overwhelmed without those things. They need to have that organization, that detail, laid out before they start writing to ensure that when they start to write, they never mess anything up or forget anything.

Every twist and turn, every angle, every character development is planned and accounted for before they start writing.

Then, there’s the other end of the spectrum.

Pantsers (aka discovery writers, aka flashlight writers) jump right in. No planning. No outlines.

All that extra stuff, the detailed character profiles, the story bibles… feels like a waste of time to pantsers. It cages them in, restraining the characters and the story. It impinges on their creative freedom, a thing they value above all else.

They’d rather let the story unfold as they go, exploring the world and learning about the characters as the plot develops. That might mean going back and adjusting things every now and then to accommodate new developments, but that’s something they’re willing to do.

For these writers, the book is every bit as much of a mystery to them when writing as it is to readers. And they love it.

Characters often feel like separate entities and sometimes “refuse” to talk to them, a thing that plotters often put down to inadequate planning, but plotters chalk up to fully developed characters.

And then, there are the people in the middle.

Plantsers do some level of planning, but also enjoy the exploration and mystery.

They might put together a small outline, maybe a page or so, but deviate from it if necessary. And they probably won’t lose sleep over doing so.

They like to have an idea of how things will go and where the character arcs will lead them, but are open to change.

Personally, I tend to fall on the pantser end of the spectrum. If I know too much about a story when I start writing, I lose interest. Because there’s no freedom left in it.

There’s one story that I started writing several years ago, and one day, the ending just appeared in my mind, and I wrote it out, word for word, in complete detail.

And in my head, that story was done. I knew the ending. I knew how all the characters developed.

But the middle of the book wasn’t written.

And it still isn’t.

I’ve written several others instead.

Eventually, I’ll go back and write the middle of that one, but there are all these other ideas that haven’t reached a conclusion in my mind. Those just pull me in more than the one that’s “finished.”

Now, I do take notes as I go, putting character descriptions into a separate document as I go so I don’t give a side character blonde hair at the start of the book and black hair at the end.

But that’s about it.

What should all my fellow writers take away from this?

The resolution to write how you need to write. Everyone has their own process. Writing a book is an intensely personal experience. What works like a charm for one person might stop another in their tracks.

Write your book however you need to.

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.