Ask any writer and they will tell you that writing a short story is different from writing something novel-length. The basic rules still apply, as I’d once explained in this blog entry. Of course, when writing a short story, you have to include all that and do it faster.
I don’t usually set out to write a story intending to make it short or not. When I write something, I go from point A to point B. In between, what happens might take a long time to explain, or it might not. I suppose the only time I write with the intention of keeping it short is with the Ice stories, and even with those, I’ve branched out. Look at how long Drew and Mina’s story turned out. I definitely didn’t know when I started it that it would be that long. Once I got somewhat into the story, I realized theirs couldn’t be a short one. I definitely can’t write a short TAITS story, unless it was a Christmas special or something. 🙂 But what about when I attempt new things?
For “Body of Water”, I didn’t know what the hell I was doing with that story, I just knew how each part was going to play out. It ended up falling somewhere between a short story and something more significant. This new story I’m writing, I thought I’d be wrapping it up around 40k words but it’s going past that. Of course, that’s just the first draft and going back to edit will likely shorten it some, so it might still come out to where I wanted it in the first place.
How do you make a short story just as exciting and engaging as something longer? Well, things like the chemistry between characters needs to be established more quickly. The initial incident and rising action is more compacted and the climax (!) is reached faster. How does all that become just as satisfying as something novel-length? I can’t say for sure. I suppose it depends on the strength of the story and the quality of the writing.
There are also plenty of short stories out there that maybe don’t follow the story formula as closely. For instance, my Christian and Maggie stories aren’t really stories at all. They don’t have any plot to speak of, and there’s not a real conclusion to any of them. Sure, they talk, they’re in love and the written portion ends but there’s none of the traditional story stuff in there. Does that make those stories less interesting than something with a murder and quick investigation? Or a story where the vampire or werewolf claims its mate before the end? Only the reader can say for sure.
I like to think either way I write a story, I’m doing something right. I like to think that no matter the length of what I’ve written, I’m somehow reaching a reader and giving them what they want to or felt like reading that day.
On that note, I hope whatever you’re reading these days, short or long, is just as satisfying as you hoped it would be. I’m going to get back to writing something now. Have a nice afternoon!
Take care and happy reading.