Focused Writing   9 comments

Do you ever write short stories? What do you see as the biggest difference in the writing process between a short story and a full-length book?

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I’m a Novelist

I write novels. What’s more, I write series. Clearly, I like to write LONG. I’m not George RR Martin, but I love stories that take time to develop. That’s how I like to read them and that’s how I like to write them.

I’m Published in 5 Anthologies

I’ve written and published six short stories in the last few years. Why would I take time off from writing the novels I love to write shorts?

It’s all about sharpening my writer skills and asserting principles I feel passionately about.

I write Celtic-inspired high fantasy, apocalyptic, and coming-of-age novels. I want to write many other genres, but I don’t really have enough time to write a full-length mystery. But I can write a short story in a month and that’s a lot of fun. It’s something different and the anthology I usually submit to is a writing challenge for libertarian authors. I find it a wonderful exercise to try and show how libertarianism can peek out in a fantasy feudal society.

Different

I absolutely find shorts to be very different writing from novels. It requires focus. What are you trying to accomplish? As a discovery writer, that’s not something I normally start with. I usually write about 1,500 words before I know where I’m going with a novel. A short is not much longer than that. So I have to actually sit down and plan the story. No, that’s not my normal process, but it’s exercising muscles I need even as I write novels. I’m not going to become a plotter because I think my novel characters would abandon me, but I have a lot of fragment characters kicking around in my head that will sometimes volunteer for a short. They have a story too, but usually not enough to shape a novel around them.

I’d never been comfortable writing in first person present before I was writing to a word limit. Looking at my first fantasy short of Gateways, an anthology published by the writers’ cooperative I publish through, I was telling a story nearly twice as long as the story I eventually submitted. I wrote the story and I didn’t love it, so I sat down to re-write it after someone at the local writer’s guild read the story and said “first person present and give it a strong voice.” I rewrote it from the perspective of Duglys, a young man who lives through a tragic event, and tells the story to a group of travelers in a caravan he’s a horse handler for. Pivot of Fate has a wonderful voice that tells you a great deal about Daermad, the world of my high fantasy. The main character was a minor character in The Willow Branch, Book 1 of Daermad Cycle. Having broken the ice in first person present in a short, I have gone on to write an entire coming-of-age series in first person present.

I’ve since written shorts in alternative historical fiction, fantasy, a reformed fairy tale, a satire, a redemption story based on the Prodigal Son. The libertarian anthology I submit to is taking a pause and I really missed not writing a short story this spring. But who knows, maybe I’ll start writing shorts for my own book.

It’s not a technique I want to use all the time, but I do like the different skills I need to use.

I wonder how my fellow authors feel about this subject.

Posted August 29, 2022 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop

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9 responses to “Focused Writing

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  1. Every chapter, every scene is a short story. Or the author is putting the story in second place.

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  2. Short stories do require a different sort of focus than longer work, for sure! @samanthabwriter from
    Balancing Act

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  3. I love the compact nature and the challenge of creating short stories. Sometimes, the voices in my head will co-operate, other times, I find a new series on my hands.

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  4. Trying everything and working on new skills makes a writer a better author.
    Tweeted.

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  5. I like writing in the first person present. From a reader’s point of view I think it’s easier to connect with the characters and feel a part of the story.

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  6. The few short stories I’ve written took several months to finish. Being a discovery writer means I rewrote the whole thing several times before I was satisfied.

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    • As a discovery writer, I struggled with short stories until I was asked to submit to a libertarian anthology that comes with a prompt. I did several and thoroughly enjoyed them. But I also need about three months to write a short. It’s not a seamless process for me. I usually write long and then trim it close.

      Like

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