The process of writing a shorter work of fiction is extremely different from the process of writing a novel. That doesn’t mean you always have to stick to writing the same story length.
If you really want to challenge yourself as a writer, sometimes doing the exact opposite of what you are used to and comfortable with – in this case, giving novel writing a try when you’ve only ever written short stories – is the best trial you will ever put yourself through.
Here’s how short story writers could actually benefit from taking the plunge and seeing if thy can write a big, long, scary, totally rewarding, novel.
Developing deeper characters
One disadvantage of writing short stories is you don’t get quite as much experience layering your characters’ traits as you do with longer works of fiction. There’s still character development in short stories, or there should be. But usually it’s very linear and on a much smaller scale. It has to be. You can only get so complex with not much space.
Suddenly your minor characters become more important than you ever imagined they could be. Your characters have secrets – big secrets. You sometimes actually end up spending so much time with your characters that they, weirdly, start to become a part of you … which is great for making them relatable to your future readers.
Playing with subplots
There’s one thing a short story really can’t have: subplots. There just isn’t room to give too many of your supporting characters their own significant roles. You’re lucky if you can tie together multiple perspective POVs without losing your mind.
A longer story gives you all kinds of freedom to run with all the back story you want (BUT NOT TOO MUCH). You can throw as many plot twists into the mix as you want to (within reason). You can spend a lot more time getting fancy with your techniques, as long as you also tell a good story and remember to tie up your loose ends before you finish (plot holes not allowed!).
Practicing making a long-term writing commitment
Writing any kind of story is a commitment, but something as long as a novel is a commitment to the extreme. If you’ve never written a full-length novel before (anything beyond 70K, basically), it’s hard to picture just how much time you actually end up investing into the same project.
Sometimes it can take years to write, take apart, reconstruct and weave back together a story filled with twists and intertwining plots, and that can be great practice for improving your patience and endurance with any kind of writing project. If you can get through writing a novel – and we promise, it really can be fun – you can get through writing anything.
The best part about trying to write a novel is, even trying is a huge accomplishment. If you try it, and you can’t finish it, or you do finish, but the only thing you learn is that writing novels is not for you – that’s okay! ANY kind of writing counts. But it doesn’t ever hurt to give something new a try, right?
What do you think, short story/novella writers? Would you ever try writing a novel? What’s stopping you? :)
Image courtesy of flickr.com.