Long form, short form

Posted by Sherry Roit on Tuesday, June 25, 2013 Under: Writing


Never say never. I know. How cliche. But so often true. Just as stereotypes exist for a reason, I suspect so too, do many cliches.

I've always admired anyone who could write a short story that packed a punch. Stephen King, Neil Gaiman - those are some famous short story writers. I also admired anyone who could make me feel as if a 200 (or less)  page novel had just packed wallop, had contained more story than seemed possible, in some way. 

But more than the wallop, there was a very important ingredient to these stories: characters were not flat. They still seemed rounded, and if not always perfectly three-dimensional, they were INTERESTING. They were going through something and I could root for or against them.

Authors like Jim Harrison (destroy you in a 100 pages or so. Legends of the Fall is a trilogy of novellas, and the entire collection is about 276 pages), Chuck Palahniuk (Fight Club is a little over 200 pages) again, Stephen King (Four Past Midnight collection, for example), and Clive Barker's Books of Blood are examples of what I mean.

Now sure, sometimes there's a story that does seem more about plot and atmosphere than character, and that I can admire as well. Sometimes the character is there as a way to convey the event and not much more, because it's about the happening. Though, it seems to me that by default, that character still ends up sticking with you. Even if only to say to yourself wow, I can't believe what happened to that dude.

 
Either way, something must stand out, must be compelling.

Why am I thinking of this just now, why am I blogging about it? Well. I have long thought that I could not write such a thing. That my attempts at short stories go off in other directions and end up novels. Not novellas, NOVELS. 

Paris Immortal series; each book averages 400 pages, and there are four of them. Perhaps one day, I'll get that fifth done. (It would be the absolute last one, I'm rather certain.)

I have a short story at the site, here, which some really like. It's very, VERY short. I got inspired, wrote it down, and the secret to it not meandering and getting away from me, was that I left it as it was, for the most part, rather than editing much. The same way I might write, say, a poem. I don't often write poems any more, but when I did, it was bam - inspiration, and bam! Satisfying, or not. Done. I also wrote lyrics this way. 

Well. Never say never. As I got into these stand-alone novels (though one never knows, one day one of those characters could pop up again...) I have been more...expedient. Ironically, I, at first, started to wonder if Grimalkin Manor was going to be too short, even though I'd not set out to write a lengthy novel. At about 275 pages of actual story, I think it worked out fine.

I am now going back to another stand-alone novel that may be much shorter than that. A novella. And I'm HAPPY about it. I think I may be doing that thing I've admired, that thing I said I couldn't do. I've stopped worrying about what's an appropriate page count (will people feel ripped off, more like), and am serving the story. I've always tried to, yet these things seem to creep into your brain when you least expect or want them to. Their express purpose? 

To screw you over, making you lose confidence. And per my parenthetical above, would you feel ripped off if the story packed some kind of punch? If it felt like more than its pages? Some books go on too long, and we feel we've wasted time. Besides, I'm not paid by the page, here.

Anyway; I'm telling you to never say never. It's not easy to reprogram your brain, but give it shot, and see where it takes you. 

What are some of your favorite shorts? Novellas. (Remember when those were an art form? I think they're becoming popular  -more mainstream - again.)

Before I post, allow to me recommend Neil Gaiman's latest - The Ocean at the End of the Lane. It's more a novella: 178 pages. I was moved. Transported. It was all about feeling. 

I did not feel ripped off in the slightest, as for what I paid. It was priceless. (If you're looking for something like his other works? Not this. It's more personal. Nostalgic. I can't begin to explain to you how it made me feel. I mean that in a good way. So if you want to feel, and be taken back to childhood, perhaps, give it a go.)

In : Writing 


Tags: novellas  writing  short stories 
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Long form, short form

Posted by Sherry Roit on Tuesday, June 25, 2013 Under: Writing


Never say never. I know. How cliche. But so often true. Just as stereotypes exist for a reason, I suspect so too, do many cliches.

I've always admired anyone who could write a short story that packed a punch. Stephen King, Neil Gaiman - those are some famous short story writers. I also admired anyone who could make me feel as if a 200 (or less)  page novel had just packed wallop, had contained more story than seemed possible, in some way. 

But more than the wallop, there was a very important ingredient to these stories: characters were not flat. They still seemed rounded, and if not always perfectly three-dimensional, they were INTERESTING. They were going through something and I could root for or against them.

Authors like Jim Harrison (destroy you in a 100 pages or so. Legends of the Fall is a trilogy of novellas, and the entire collection is about 276 pages), Chuck Palahniuk (Fight Club is a little over 200 pages) again, Stephen King (Four Past Midnight collection, for example), and Clive Barker's Books of Blood are examples of what I mean.

Now sure, sometimes there's a story that does seem more about plot and atmosphere than character, and that I can admire as well. Sometimes the character is there as a way to convey the event and not much more, because it's about the happening. Though, it seems to me that by default, that character still ends up sticking with you. Even if only to say to yourself wow, I can't believe what happened to that dude.

 
Either way, something must stand out, must be compelling.

Why am I thinking of this just now, why am I blogging about it? Well. I have long thought that I could not write such a thing. That my attempts at short stories go off in other directions and end up novels. Not novellas, NOVELS. 

Paris Immortal series; each book averages 400 pages, and there are four of them. Perhaps one day, I'll get that fifth done. (It would be the absolute last one, I'm rather certain.)

I have a short story at the site, here, which some really like. It's very, VERY short. I got inspired, wrote it down, and the secret to it not meandering and getting away from me, was that I left it as it was, for the most part, rather than editing much. The same way I might write, say, a poem. I don't often write poems any more, but when I did, it was bam - inspiration, and bam! Satisfying, or not. Done. I also wrote lyrics this way. 

Well. Never say never. As I got into these stand-alone novels (though one never knows, one day one of those characters could pop up again...) I have been more...expedient. Ironically, I, at first, started to wonder if Grimalkin Manor was going to be too short, even though I'd not set out to write a lengthy novel. At about 275 pages of actual story, I think it worked out fine.

I am now going back to another stand-alone novel that may be much shorter than that. A novella. And I'm HAPPY about it. I think I may be doing that thing I've admired, that thing I said I couldn't do. I've stopped worrying about what's an appropriate page count (will people feel ripped off, more like), and am serving the story. I've always tried to, yet these things seem to creep into your brain when you least expect or want them to. Their express purpose? 

To screw you over, making you lose confidence. And per my parenthetical above, would you feel ripped off if the story packed some kind of punch? If it felt like more than its pages? Some books go on too long, and we feel we've wasted time. Besides, I'm not paid by the page, here.

Anyway; I'm telling you to never say never. It's not easy to reprogram your brain, but give it shot, and see where it takes you. 

What are some of your favorite shorts? Novellas. (Remember when those were an art form? I think they're becoming popular  -more mainstream - again.)

Before I post, allow to me recommend Neil Gaiman's latest - The Ocean at the End of the Lane. It's more a novella: 178 pages. I was moved. Transported. It was all about feeling. 

I did not feel ripped off in the slightest, as for what I paid. It was priceless. (If you're looking for something like his other works? Not this. It's more personal. Nostalgic. I can't begin to explain to you how it made me feel. I mean that in a good way. So if you want to feel, and be taken back to childhood, perhaps, give it a go.)

In : Writing 


Tags: novellas  writing  short stories 
blog comments powered by Disqus
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