Monday, June 02, 2008

To Short or not to Short, that's the Question

Of the four stories I've been focusing on, all four are out knocking on doors.  Makes me feel good, but also it reveals my shortcomings as a writer.  Now I've got quite a few short stories, but many of them are old.  I've grown as a writer since I've penned them.  One of the more promising older ones I wrote way back in 2002, and rewrote in 2005.  That's a long time to spend on a short story, even if most of that time was having it sit in a deep freezer.  I want to write more new stuff, but ...

I'm primarily a novelist.  My strength is in novel length.  When stories bud in my brain they're peonies, chrysanthemums, hydrangeas and thistles rather than hibiscus, clematis, jasmine and tulip blossoms.  I'm pleased as punch when I get a daffodil, blueberry or an orchid opening up in my brain, but they don't grow as well.  

That's no excuse, though.  Over time I hope to develop my short story growing skills, and the only way to do that is to write them.  They're a great art form.  Besides, every novelist knows that the skills you employ to write a short story will only help you in a novel length story.  Twists, vibrancy, characterization, plot, theme--all that stuff and more needs to perform at peak efficiency in a short length.  

It's a lot less painful and very educational to write a hundred short stories.  If you do, it doesn't automatically mean you'll become a great novelist.  Not everything learned in writing translates from one length to another or one form to another, as we've seen with tv shows that have big screen 'episodes' made, big screen movies that are turned into tv series, shorts that are expanded into novels but never have that novel feel, novels that are, in essence, a series of related short stories, shorts that should have been novels, etc.  But good storytelling is universal.  I don't think learning to write in short lengths better will harm my novel skills, and I think there's a whole lot to be gained.  Now I just have to set my priorities, so that each time I sit down at the computer, I don't waste a bunch of time thinking about what I should be doing.

Gee, just like right now ...

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