Thursday, March 26, 2009

Novel vs. Short Story

I’m rewriting a different short story today, one that I started last fall and has been through workshop. The draft I started with this morning was 21 pages. I reviewed notes from critique (yay for me for saving them!), figured out what I wanted to improve, spent time getting the order of events right, and cut stuff. A lot of stuff. Scenes I loved that just didn’t fit. Images that were hard to part with, but just didn’t relate to the central theme. It was hard, but I cut stuff.

Whew! That felt better. I got rid of a lot of junk. Then I checked the page count (why do I do this to myself?) and found the story was now 20 and a half pages. Um, what? What is that about? I thought I cut a lot. And I did write a new scene at the end, but it was a tiny little scene. Or so I thought.

I think the novel has ruined the short story for me.

Novel and short story writing are two such different crafts, I must remember. I can’t really tell the story the same way. I can’t linger on so much in a short story. I can’t reveal as much as I would like about a character. Or, put a more challenging way: in the short story you have to figure out how to still reveal a lot about a character but with, you know, five words or so.

It’s different, so, so different. And I am totally out of practice. But my novel is napping and so what’s a girl to do? I will keep at this short story, I will just remember now not to be so wordy about it.


  1. it's great that you write both though. i pretty much can't write short stories... i end up obsessing about the other parts of the characters' lives that are too interesting to pass up!

  2. I don't think I'll ever be good at short stories. My writing is fairly lean; I just don't seem to have ideas the fit the short form. And yet, I keep trying.