Wednesday 2 April 2014

How's a short story different from a novel?

Writing a short story can feel like a breath of fresh air after focussing on novels as less time and concentration is needed. I mentioned in my previous post: How do you write? (Part II) that I need at least a three hour block to get into novel-writing. I found a 2000 word story could be done in one hour blocks because there wasn’t as much to remember when going back to it.

I’ve written flash fiction (Paragraph Planet and Novelicious Pinterest Prompt) and taken part in a collaborative story, but have wanted to write short stories for years and have several attempts saved on my computer. Recently, however I had an idea which wouldn’t go away and managed to finish a story of 2000 words.  

So, how is a short story different from a novel?

After novel-writing, it’s a treat time-wise.

There’s no big plan and the idea needs to be simple.

Usually hardly any research is needed. I got by using my old friend, Google.

Starting at the right point is crucial. Cutting the first few sentences from an initial draft helps.

Editing 2000 words (about the length of a chapter in a novel) is a dream compared to 70-80,000 words and a good way to hone editing skills.

Proofreading a novel can take half a day and it’s difficult to do in one go. With a short story it takes 5-10 minutes.

Squeezing a compelling beginning, middle and end into 2000 words can be a challenge.

With short stories the ending’s often unexpected. For me, that required a lot of mulling time.

Style needs to be more telling than in a novel. There are fewer opportunities to ‘zoom-in’ on a moment.

If you’re stuck in a rut with your novel, it’s worth having a go and if you finish one, it’s a real confidence boost.

The Easter holidays have arrived and the countryside around here's looking stunning. I’m looking forward to days out in the spring sunshine and catching up with friends and family. Last week I filled in my form for the RNA Conference in July and I can’t wait! Hope to see some of you there.