Good question. One that author S.L. Farrell tries to answer:
The skills you learn in short fiction don’t necessarily translate into equal skills for writing long fiction. The pacing is different: a short story needs to start as close to the end as possible while a novel may start much further back from the climax. The way you build a novel is often not something that you can duplicate in short fiction, as novels use a more intricate structure (and on the flip side, short stories can often use wildly experimental methods that work within the confinement of a short story, but which would get deadly tiresome to the reader in a novel). Scope is different, since short stories tend to use a microscope while a novel uses a wide-angle lens: you can tell the tale of a battle in short fiction, but you can’t give us the whole five-year long war. Setting is different: you generally have one or two setting in short fiction; in a novel you might have dozens — which means that the worldbuilding has to be much more in depth; you won’t get away with a painted backdrop in a novel. Plotting is different: short fiction tends to have a ’straight-line’ plot; a novel’s plot is generally more complex, and has the added complexity of sub-plots supporting the main plot. Characterization is even different: the character arc in short fiction will usually show the ‘top’ of the arc — that defining moment when the protagonist’s life is changed — while in a novel, the writer can show much more of the arc. Characterization is generally slower and deeper in a novel.
That was helpful. I struggle terribly with writing short stories. I struggle even more trying to understand short stories!ReplyDelete
I like novelists because they have verbal diarrhea.
Glad that was of help! I like both short stories and novels. Short stories require less investment of time which is always a plus. Whether you understand them or not depends on the story I think. I don't rather like opaque short stories myself. But I do sometimes like the ones that don't seem to have any point to them at all, like the ones by Raymond Carver and some of Haruki Murakami's.ReplyDelete
Ooh, btw, why did Redwhite Spot move from LJ to Blogger? Not that I'm complaining, in fact I much rather prefer it. Your RSS feed on LJ didn't work so I never knew when there was an update!ReplyDelete