Pacing? Novel vs. Short Story


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Thread: Pacing? Novel vs. Short Story

  1. #1

    Pacing? Novel vs. Short Story

    If I were forced at gunpoint to define my niche as a writer, I would blurt out "short stories", before bargaining for my life.

    My question is, how can a short-story writer traverse the bridge of several hundred pages into the realm of novels?

    In my few, and futile, attempts at novel writing, I found my pacing slows down to a snail's speed. Instead of conveying moments and ideas with a sweeping hand, like I do with short stories, I find myself narrowing the narrative into minute, tiny details, where a single act of drinking a glass of water may very well stretch into several paragraphs until my reader collapses in exhaustion.

    The alternative, of course, is to use my usual narrative pacing. The result of which is my plot being resolved and completed within a few pages.

    Has anyone struggled with this? What's the trick I'm missing here?

    Perhaps I should just stick to my niche, and let the gunman find a new writer to torment. Short-stories aren't so bad, after all.

    Short story artists and novelists, any wisdom is much appreciated.
    Last edited by Kyle R; August 4th, 2011 at 12:18 AM. Reason: Clarification

  2. #2
    I make my novels out of short stories. All of my things take place in the same "universe" so they can all be fitted together like puzzle pieces. String some short stories together, add some interstitial material, and you're good. Just look at the scenes differently, is all. Short stories are generally faster-paced-in novels I try to add extra sensory material, pun not intended (I think).
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  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by moderan View Post
    I make my novels out of short stories. All of my things take place in the same "universe" so they can all be fitted together like puzzle pieces. String some short stories together, add some interstitial material, and you're good. Just look at the scenes differently, is all. Short stories are generally faster-paced-in novels I try to add extra sensory material, pun not intended (I think).
    That's exactly how I see it.

  4. #4
    First off, the difference between short story and novel shouldn't be that drastic. Yes, a novel has more room for more details, but it really has room for more interactions between characters, more room for events that would be skipped in a short story. You don't add meaningless junk, but fill in the scene a little more.

    I started with short stories, I still do short stories, and they are the first thing I start with when I have some crazy idea that lacks the breadth of a novel. What I do find, is some short stories spawn more paths as I write them. Possibilities that are thought of but never explored in the initial. The ones that are done when you are finished...they are done. Start something new. Sometimes it takes quite a few before one comes along that begs to be told in a longer version. When that happens, write down some notes on all those possibilities, and see what you get. You might want to go ahead and start another story while you flesh out your novel into more depth. Build characters, their history, what makes them who they are. If you are using a non modern day setting, work on the environment and the place the characters live in, travel through, what the people are like. As you do these things you will find more ideas for event that could be part of your story.

    Once you have more than enough information to work with, get the main plot, and then start breaking it down. It can be an outline, or just a sequence of scenes with some notes on what is going on, and the purpose of the scene.

    Once you have that, then you start writing the novel. Don't start with the text from the short story, do it clean. (I find the second version of any story is almost always better) Follow your plan and make sure each scene fulfills the purpose it needs to, and keep going. If you find you are overloading the story with boredom, rewrite the entire scene again, and stick to the point of the scene.

    It won't happen overnight, but by doing your preparation first, it will help you get it done. There are quite a few writing books out there as well, some of them have very good advice in different aspects of writing. I've read quite a few of them, and all of them (even the ones that aren't really targeting my writing preferences) had some valuable information in them. It's also up to you to determine how much of that information fits your writing.

    In November Nano starts, and is a good way to push yourself into churning out 50k or the most horrible words you might ever write. Still, it's a great feeling actually doing it.

  5. #5
    Treat each chapter in your novel as a short story with its own conflict, climax, reversal, resolution, etc.

    Well . . . most of the 'chapter conflicts' won't really get resolved; instead they'll serve to set up conflicts in future chapters and heighten suspense about your primary overarching conflict.

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