Short Stories versus Novels

I like to consider myself a novelist. That’s what I do. I may have only published one, but that’s what my writing is geared for, writing novels.

I have been trying my hand at writing short stories for my writers’ group, mostly with prompts. I’ve posted a couple of those here on the blog, but I can’t really say I’m proud of them. I’ve been to some open mic events; both locally and out of town and the short stories I have heard a strong finish or a bite to them, a humorous sideline or some deeply thought-provoking revelation amongst the words.

I’ve also read a few anthologies of short stories and most are 2000-3000 words, succinct, concise words.

I can’t do it in less than 5000 words.

I have a short attention span and I like lots of fast action. I write like that also, a whirlwind of events, one on the heels of another.

There are some really great blogs that feature lots of short stories. Kate Loveton has short stories on her blog and does very well at humor and at making relevant points with her work in few words. Helen Midgely writes some of the best short fiction I’ve ever read. I keep encouraging them to write novels. Mark Paxon writes good introspective and meaningful short stories. They always leave me wanting to read more.

That’s what a short story should do.

I researched writing short stories and found the article by Yale University:  http://www.yale.edu/ynhti/curriculum/units/1983/3/83.03.09.x.html

It struck me as a bit too complicated.

So I looked deeper.

I found this list of the five elements of a short story:

They are true masters at combining the five key elements that go into every great short story: charactersetting, conflictplot and theme.

http://users.aber.ac.uk/jpm/ellsa/ellsa_elements.html

You could say novels are just expanded short stories as the ingredients are much the same, but are they?

My short stories are like little bitty novels.

I found this list of novel features:

  1. Concept – the central idea or proposition from which you create a landscape upon which to tell the story; weak premise, weak story…
  2. Character – checklist-driven criteria for developing backstory, arc, inner conflict and the essence of a hero’s quest…
  3. Theme – the elusive meaning of your story and how it affects readers on multiple levels; in other words, why they’ll care…
  4. Story architecture – a four-part story structure riddled with segments missions, milestones and standards that keep the story growing and moving…
  5. Scene execution – if you can’t boil water you can’t cook up a buffet; this is the crafting of efficient, tense, visceral scenes and narrative…
  6. Writing voice – the assemblage of words you summon as foot soldiers with the mission of carrying your structural strategy to victory.

It would seem that novels are more complex, but that’s not really true. I’m finding writing a short story is harder simply because you are trying to accomplish the same things in fewer words. Maybe I’m overthinking this.

When I approach writing, I tend to do it more by this list of six; except for this statement “if you can’t boil water you can’t cook up a buffet.”

I’m always cooking the buffet.

I feel it requires masterful writing and creativity to pull off a great short story. I applaud people who do it well.

It’s really a whole different style.

I approach writing the same way for short stories and novels. I’ve discovered that my story arc is the same for short stories as it is for novels. You know…you’ve seen this before.

story-arc-1

When it should probably look more like this:

Slide2

 

So, what do you think?

Is writing short stories different for you than writing novels?

Is it easier or more challenging to write the short story?

I’m finding the short story a greater challenge. I think my lilting use of language and verbosity are parts of what present me problems.

Any advice?

Happy New Year – FREE Books Here

Want some really good FREE books! Here ya go 🙂

blindoggbooks

My last blog post of the year will be very short…and (hopefully) very sweet.

As my way of thanking you for your support, encouragement and friendship over the past year (and beyond as it applies!) I am offering not one…but TWO free kindle downloads until Midnight Sunday!

Did I mention they are both FREE??

free

Download my first novel Living the Dream

Living the Dream

And the sequel No Good Deed

No Good Deed

Both for FREE!!

Download them, enjoy them, tell your friends to download them, share this post with the world…the more the merrier!!

That’s it…you may now resume normal behavior (whatever that may be).

Have a happy and safe new year!!

2015

As always – thank you for reading

View original post

2014 in review: I Would Be Sitting in a Corner Talking to Myself Without YOU!

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Many thanks to all who visited, liked and commented on posts. You mean the world to me. It is a virtual world, but your company is very precious and real. Have the Happiest of New Years!!!

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 18,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 7 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

12 things your grandparents said…

If you don’t follow Sue Vincent’s blog…really you should. “Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it.

Make your mistakes, next year and forever.”

Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

old age by CecigianWhen you are very young, forty seems ancient and grandparents are, of course, so old they are practically another species. Like dinosaurs…almost- but-not-quite extinct and very much at home in museums. Their homes bear the traces of a ‘bygone era’…you know, a whole twenty years ago… and it is impossible to imagine yourself walking in their shoes. Not that you would be seen dead in them…

I clearly remember my own feeling of awe when my mother reached the venerable age of thirty. I was already pretty much grown up… in my own eyes at least… and could barely conceive of a time when I would be that old. These days, of course, thirty is a spring chicken and even my grandparents would have been younger then than I am now. I remember too some years later when my great grandmother, well into her late nineties, explained that she…

View original post 1,135 more words

Best Bloggers Blogging … according to me!

This is a list of some terrific bloggers, many of which I already follow. Susan Toy pulled this together, you should have a look. I am truly honored to be on the list. Please check them out when you have a moment. A wonderful way to make new friends in 2015 🙂

Books: Publishing, Reading, Writing

I’ve already given you a wrap-up of the best books I read in 2014. As well as being a reader and an author, I’m also a blogger who promotes other authors and doles out advice and information on all manner interesting areas, to me and my readers. Throughout this past year I have become “acquainted” with other like-minded bloggers (some of whom are also authors), have followed and read their blogs, commented on them, and reblogged their posts a number of times. Some of these bloggers came to my attention in the first place, because they offered to read and review my books or gave me promotion by way of an interview or guest post on their blogs. In turn, I met a number of other bloggers through that first set – people who commented on those posts about me or who won a copy of my book through…

View original post 403 more words

Surviving Sister Revisited

It has taken me so very long to get the edits done on Naked Alliances that I am not nearly as far along on Surviving Sister as I had intended to be. I’m giving it some attention now. That started with me reading the four or five chapters I have completed.

I’m at 15, 297 words on that book. The first chapter, as always, seems to be giving me the most trouble.

I know that it’s best to drop backstory in as you move along in a story. However, with this story, that takes place in the mid to late fifties and early sixties, I am going between two POV, the two sisters. There is an action scene in Chapter One, but much of Chapter One is relating their childhood and relationship with their parents at an early age relative to them being so very transient and I feel that is important to understanding why they behave as they do in subsequent chapters.

So I’m breaking a rule. Again. I can only hope it doesn’t backfire.

In Chapter One, there is an incident that occurs in the sisters’ teen years where they are forced to move yet again, and that’s where the real story of their present starts.

This is a more cerebral read than anything like genre fiction that is exclusively for entertainment. I’m hoping my audience for this book will be like my audience for Red Clay and Roses. It goes deeper. Introspective. Reflective. Meaningful. Filled with emotion. Nothing remotely funny about it.

The first chapter sets up the dynamics of the two sisters, let’s you in on the dynamics of their parents, their grandma, how they relate to their world and the tone of the story.

I may make some changes later, but I’m liking it so far.

Here’s a throwback! Me and my older sister in the tub. 1961.

Connie and Susie

 

Christmas in the Nation’s Oldest City

I promised a post about our trip to St. Augustine and I really want to share this with you before Christmas. St. Augustine is a city in Northeast Florida and the oldest continuously occupied European-established settlement and port in the continental United States. It was established in 1565.

I know there is dust on European book shelves older than that, but that’s old for North America. When you think of Florida, which really didn’t boom until the 1950s, it’s really historic.

When we first arrived in St. Augustine, it was daylight and the entire city was decorated with Christmas charm, including Casa Monica, our downtown hotel in the historic district. Being the old fogies that we are, we took a quick look around and then flopped in the plush bed to read and nap.

Casa Monica

When we awoke it was nighttime, and the city was festively lit up for the Holiday. Our first order of business was the trolley ride around town to see the lights.

trolley

The town square was lit up as bright as day.

One of the most delightful things to see were the quaint Bed and Breakfasts all decorated in the Christmas spirit. There were Santas and elves, snowmen and princesses, we even saw a Christmas Elvis. Although the light display was a little underwhelming after visiting Disney’s show, the charm of the historic city really shined through in the garlands and wreaths on display. It was all picturesque, but sometimes a little difficult to see from the back of a trolley.

 

 After the trolley ride, there were sugar cookies and hot apple cider for all of us tourists, then it was off to the Christmas Regatta. If you have never seen a boat display of Christmas lights you should put that on your bucket list. These pictures don’t do it justice. The lights sparkle down reflecting across the water and shine brightly into the night sky. The boat parade made me think of Santa’s sleigh. Boats appear beneath the Bridge of Lions over the ICW Matanzas River and make their way in front of the crowd along the city walls.

We missed our dinner reservation due to the long line waiting on the trolley, but ventured north up San Marcos to La Pavillon for fine European dining in a Victorian home. The RS selected a seafood and pasta dish.

I had the rack of lamb and it was scrumptious.

St Augustine and Flager Beach 026

Then it was back to the hotel to read ghost stories….oooo. An added treat was waking up and getting to see the Huguenot Cemetery near the oldest wooden schoolhouse. I don’t know why, but old cemeteries fascinate me. Part of my fascination with them might be seeing how young people were at time of death. Mosquito borne disease, childbirth, and influenza killed so many back then. There’s a huge cemetery in Key West and the eldest person buried there was thirty-seven at time of death.

It was also kinda creepy to see the mannequins in the old schoolhouse. Some of the other historic houses were a little brighter.

A short walk took us to the fort on the Matanzas River, The Castillo de San Marcos.

Castillo_de_San_Marcos_NPS

This was right up the RS’s alley. I was fascinated by some of the history and the architecture.

The RS was intrigued by its strategic location, just in front of the Atlantic Ocean inlet, the weaponry and costumes on display.

I’ll leave you with one last cheerful photo. Every town should have a store like this:

St Augustine and Flager Beach 021

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!