Monday, October 22, 2012

Short Story vs. Novel

A lot of authors start out writing short stories before they tackle a novel. Going from a short story to a novel has an intuitive progression that all who hope to publish should pay attention to.

What are the differences?
A short story can be seen as a slice of life.
A novel could cover an entire life.

A short story covers a narrow time frame.
A novel could cover a massive time frame.

A short story most often only includes one geographical location.
A novel could cover many geographical locations.

A short story can be anywhere from 500 to 9,000 words, although most magazines prefer them to be under 2,000.
A novel can be anywhere from 60,000 to over 100, 000 words.

So, what are the similarities?

Both a novel and short story should have a beginning, middle and end and follow the three act time frame.
Both should start with a great hook, so that the reader doesn't want to put it down until the book/short story is finished.
Both should have an inciting incident in Act 1.
Both should have the characters facing obstacles, setbacks, and minor victories in Act 2.
Both should end Act 2 with the climax of the story.
Both should have a conclusion to the story in Act 3.

While the short story helps the author become clear and concise, the novel offers the opportunity to expand and elaborate descriptions, subplots, and character arcs.

Have you thought about writing a short story? What would your hook be?

14 comments:

  1. Nice post, thanks Cindy! I've debated writing short stories on the side. I used to enjoy doing that in my earlier years.

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    1. James, I've never really mastered the art. Maybe you can teach me.

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  2. Before the Indelibles anthology IN HIS EYES, I hadn't ever really written a short story. I thought I couldn't do it. Turns out, I did just fine and I LOVED it! Just like you said in your bit about what's the same, that's what did it for me--realizing that the short still had to have all the same "beats" (I'm a STC freak). Great post Cindy!

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    1. Thanks! STC is a great thing to be a freak about!

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  3. Cool to see these things compared. I wrote my first short story after I wrote a few books and found them a bit hard since we're without the use of many words. Super fun though!

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    1. It is fun, but really hard-especially after writing novels

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  4. When I'm feeling overwhelmed by writing an entire novel, I'll write a short story to get my mojo going.

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  5. I find writing shorts quite intimidating. To masterfully accomplish three acts in less than 6k? I've done it, but I don't find it easy just because it's short.

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    1. I think you have to be an amazing writer to be an effective short story writer

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  6. I've written both, but only published short stories. I don't feel ready to submit my longer manuscripts yet. New follower here. So glad to have found you and I look forward to visiting again.

    Sylvia
    http://www.writinginwonderland.blogspot.com/

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    1. I'm the opposite of you. No shorts for me.

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  7. Yes, I try, except they always turn out being novella or novel ideas! I'm not complaining!

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  8. I love short stories, both writing and reading them! They are a great way to inspire the imagination and take a break from a novel length work.

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