So, I’m still working on lengthening the “Crown of Thorns” story.  (It’s going well, by the way.) In my search for advice on lengthening a short work, I came across a very good, very awesome thread on the Absolute Write forums about it, and found loads of solid advice.  Like:

  • Novels are a totally different animal than a short.


  • Short stories are based on a single event, situation, or idea.  Novels are based on a premise, and hopefully one that will lead you through a variety of situations.

One poster in the thread suggested (to the creator of the thread, who wasn’t me, but another short story writer in the same boat) to stop writing short stories as long as one was in progress with a novel.

Hooray!, I thought.  That’s probably the key for me right there!  If I stop thinking in “short mode,” and re-wire my brain to think in “long mode,” I’ll surely end up with a longer work….

Heh heh.

Since I made the decision to stop writing short stories, in order to help me write a longer work, all I’ve been able to think about is flash fiction!!!

I find myself breathing flash when I least expect it.  Seeing flash around every corner.

And now, I’m even dreaming in flash.



5 thoughts on “my obsession with shorts

  1. Sometimes the only way to get rid of temptation is to give in to it. =] If you write those flash stories, they may stop nagging at you.

    You could also think about writing your novel in “flash” episodes – if you think about each chapter or scene as a “flash” but make them all continuous / related to the whole . . . that might work for you? (And you might find you slip naturally into writing longer scenes as the process goes along.)

    Also, I find when I’m working on a novel, sometimes I need to take a break and write something short and completely unrelated, otherwise I get bogged down with the characters and the plot.

    The only difference I’ve found between short stories and novels is the amount of time you have to spend working on them. And the number of things you have to dream up to throw at the characters – like the second bullet you’ve included from Absolute Write. Sure, there’s generally less focus on each word in a novel as opposed to a very short story, and the details are given at a slower rate (i.e. not all revealed within the first scene, but over many) . . . but I wouldn’t think of them as *completely* different animals.

    Maybe it’s the difference between a chihuahua and a standard poodle? Grooming the poodle takes a heck of a lot more work. 0-o But they’re both canines.

    So, I say go for the flash. Writing is writing; if a story wants to be written, don’t stop it!

    As far as lengthening stories . . . what word count are you at, and what are you trying to reach? Sometimes it’s a matter of padding, sometimes of adding new scenes, and sometimes completely re-writing (or inserting text from the short story at intervals in mostly-new material).

    On the plus side, you get a lot more space to develop the characters and play with them!

    But. Yes. Basically, I’d look for things in the short story that might be turned into further conflicts; maybe if you make allusions to events, you could turn them into entire scenes; possibly if there are only two or three characters, think up a few more secondary ones (It *is* possible to write a novel with only two characters throughout most of it – for example, Cormac McCarthy’s _The Road_ . . . but it’s a lot more fun, and easier, to write when there are more characters to interact, at least for some sections of the story). Also think about sub-plots for the main and/or secondary characters. Like creating a town instead of a room?

    Hopefully that was more helpful than confusing . . . erm . . .

    Best of luck with it, in any case!

  2. I disagree about the idea of padding. You should never pad a work just for the sake of wordcount — editors *hate* that, because it’s (usually) unnecessary fluff that ends up cut anyway. What’s better than padding is looking to see where there is more to a scene; like, in a short story, I often write “quick” scenes, using inference to get points across. In this, I’m finding I can (and should!) stay with the scene longer, getting more out of it that I ignored in the short version.

    But, that’s a good point about shorts & novels & dogs… 🙂 I never thought of it like that, lol.

    As for where I am…. It was originally an 11k novelette. I’ve been working on it for the last two weeks, and now it’s just over 20k. The good thing is, I’m some 40-odd pages into the re-write, and not quite to the half-way point of the tale. I’ve probably written a good 9k. The rest hasn’t been “fixed” yet. So, I figure I’ve got room to grow. 🙂

    I’m shooting for something novel-length, so that’d be 40 or 50k…. I have NO idea if I’ll make it or not, but the way I figure it: tell the story the way it wants to be told, and we’ll see where we end up. 🙂

  3. I agree with Erin when she says if something wants to be written, just write it. I know that if I don’t write something down when it’s in my head, it will never stop nagging me.

    I agree with you on the padding, though.

    Anyway, Heather, you are already a terrific writer. It’s not like you need advice about any of this stuff, right? Before you know it, you will have accomplished that book.

    Happy writing!

  4. Sorry, I didn’t mean “padding” as unnecessary filler so much as elaborating on aspects that could have more written about them.


  5. Erin: Aaaahh, okay! 🙂 Now we’re on the same page!

    Maybe I should just sit down and write it. But flash fiction pieces are like gerbils, you know…. THEY MULTIPLY! lol.

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