Short Stories VS. Novels (On Writing and Editing)


So over the last two days I got through a first edit of one of my short stories called “Kill The Television”, which I hope to self-publish later this year. After the long editing period on the book, it felt easier editing the short story, and that is because of the size and scope differences between the two genres. You can see the totality of the project in a short story, and that makes it’s easier to move the parts around.

Short stories offers their own set of unique issues. It can feel abrupt, maybe even inconsequential. I’m thinking of having an epilogue with this short story, to help end it, but also to kick the can down the road a bit further. I want to establish the idea of intertextuality in my writing anyway.

Short stories I feel can also have a dreamy, non-attached quality to them. They can be like impressionistic film, where we just sort of float in and then just float away, and not much can happen; nothing is waged and nothing is lost.

Someone could also argue that there’s isn’t any real difference between short stories and novels. Novels should be episodic, which they are inherently, built with chapters. This eventful nature is capture by things like cliffhangers and shifting points of view, like in George R. R. Martin Game of Thrones series.

Short stories limit the point of view shifts to some degree. I do one major flashback in this current short story. It sort of gunks up the flow of the story, but I think it also charges the climax, because of delayed gratification. But I wonder in the flow of the short story, would it be best to just track the one big story line with no flash back. I am also at 16k words on the short story, which is a little long. Same time, self-publishing really does away with rigid word count restrictions anyway, so who knows?

I like short stories because of the idea of single session reading. Books can be a huge invest of time, and when the books doesn’t really pay off, then you can start wondering if your wasting your time. Short stories you can get in and out, and that’s it. Short stories are like one night stands and books are like marriages. It’s funny talking about the method in anything, it always seems to take on this latent-sexual vibe, or maybe that’s just me…


But yes, novels have their uniqueness too. I am a firm believer in the whole idea of you can’t have too much of a good thing, so if I am enjoying an author and story, I would probably like to keep that magic going. Novels allow life long commitments to characters and stories lines. There is plenty of room to flush out plot and setting. Characters can pop easier because we have time to see them through changing events. And a number of over things keep the Novel valuable.

I’m an inclusive sort of guy and like I said I like intertextuality, so I say do it all. Write independent short stories. Write independent Novels. Write short stories that build worlds for the novels. Write a series of novels which span thirteen books, and six short stories, and a collection of poetry from a barely developed secondary character from the six book in the series. Just write and create those worlds!

Flash Back & Frame Narrative (On Writing and Editing)



A big part of my editing is trying not to trip over my own legs as I go. I have two concepts in mind I want to reflect on, Flash Back and Frame Narrative. Both of these idea relate to time and development in your work. A flash back is when we leave present action, to return to a previous period. This memory should have some important aspect to it, so it is not a needless interruption of the current, status quo, action of your story, which is the good part.

A frame narrative works differently and sets up a sort of static time and place and then a second line of current time runs in the “framed” story. So for instance a frame narrative could be a detective reading a crazy’s personal journal, which would have its own internal time structure. 

What I find myself doing is, and it’s not good, was giving a short couple paragraphs of a present tense, but then slipping back into a reflective narrative of other, earlier events. I realized that I need to rewrite the section so the flash back was just the action. Then I could do a brief flashback of those events in the later present scene. I wanted this recognition from the character in the later scene, to build pressure, which is much more effective when we have already experienced the pressure ourselves. We are tracking one character through a series of events. Stay linear unless it is absolutely necessary.  Of course there are exceptions, the one’s the come immediately to my mind are from film, like Tarantino’s movies, and Memento, for instance. Film has done it the best, but thinking about it there seems no reason why time distortions can’t work in stories? 

I know Joyce does some tricky time things in Ulysses. And I always think of Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury too, in these regards. Again, I think it is advisable to stick to a more traditional time structure in your early novel. Walk before running and all that. 

There was of course some rewrite to make the changes flow, but it isn’t that difficult, and it makes it so much better. I feel like there are also traps in the rewriting, editing phase, where there is an urge to just dump material, and rewrite it; I stop myself from this. First, because I enjoy and trust the initial inspired, first draft; it just needs some help. But more importantly because it is easier to rework than rewrite. It is easier to untie a knot, then weave a new rope. (Oh that was nice) 


Yeah, I am going to get back to work. I am a third of the way done editing this short story. I want to edit another ten pages before lunch. I’m thinking I am going to edit at least one more short story before I get back to the book…we’ll see. Hope your own work is going good! (Whoever it is that I may be talking to) 


Have Fun! (On Writing And Editing)



You want to know how I know I am a writer? Because I am having fun doing it! Like, a lot of fun. It’s that simple. Writing isn’t something that drains me of energy, but something that gives me energy. Though I rarely meet my highest expectations, I always make a little forward progress and get closer to being my best as a writer.

I finished the first draft of a new short story today, and it has me very excited. Like, I like the story. There’s some good elements there. It made me laugh and cheer, maybe even tear up a little bit, I don’t know. The work is a step towards a larger imaginary space I am working at creating and it is exploring themes that are important to me. And I’m excited to let my wife read it!

This is what people mean by they “can’t not” do something, the urge aspect of certain behaviors. Once you have experienced a joy like that, you have to keep going; it directs you. This mindset allow you to come at your art from a pure, healthy place. Have fun at your art; it shouldn’t be a struggle or hard, through you will definitely struggle and it is hard! Joy in the struggle; that’s the transcendent goal in art. Make a meal more than a meal. Make a book more than just a book. Make a painting more beautiful than life.

Editing looms like a mountain before me. I have got to start finishing these projects. The books sits in the basement, getting hungry. I want to let it loose, but I got to let it germinate for at least 2-1/2 weeks or something…just ignore it…So yes, instead I’m going to focus now on editing another old short story, and get that finished!  Keep an attainable goal in the front of your mind. 




Let It Rest (On Writing and Editing)



So I’ve locked my manuscript up in the basement, under lock and key, chained up in a folder. More like sitting on my desktop and cloudthingy, but psychologically and methodically,  I am growing this thing in my dark and murky unconscious. It’s a shared space down there. There two other books, only one of which I ever intend to release. They are accompanied by 10-15 “short” stories and fragments, which I believe may one day clean up right enough to surface, but who really knows. There’s also unknown number of non-fiction ramblings and essays, from college, and also a few chunks of half-realized poetry. 

You must let things rest. There are a number of things which require a resting period, like dough, good conversation, seasons, the sun, human beings, bears, seeds, love, my dogs (often). But while those things rest, I keep churning out my attempts at fiction, that ultimately will join the rest, floating below the surface. Until the day I brave the light, and display my pretties for the world to see! 

I put up a new 2.5 words on a new, short story, brining the total over 5k. It’s still not finished, and I’m not sure how to finish it, and that was basically my limit on the story. I feel the story is overflowing and refuses to be shoved into 5k words, at the same time, I don’t know if I can commit to a whole other book right now…but I am enjoying the new story, a lot actually, and in reality connects to some of my other stories, but I just want a dense short story, to just wet these savage’s appetites, get the hook in ya know? Ah anyways…that’s what I’m thinking about right now…does size matter? Chime in folks!





One More To Go (On Writing And Editing)

So, I have been very sick, and la familia had been sick, so things have been a bit of a downer lately. Rest assured the editing continued. The authoring continues until my dying day. I’m weird about it. 

I got one last chapter left on this comprehensive round of editing. This beast is made; now I just got to sand it out. The cement is poured and the pillars are drying, walls are built, trim is laid, studs are up, and sheetrock is a hanging. Okay I’ll stop with that. 

But yes, I am feeling something of forward movement on the book and it is exciting. I am sure there will be a backwash of self criticism shortly, but tonight, stuffy nosed and a little head achey, I can read back over my work and enjoy it, and that is something. 

I am going to finish the the last chapter in the morning, and then I am going to visit my grandmother and walked around with my wife and kids around a lake, because spring is here! (to me anyway) My next writing session is going to be finishing this short-story I been banging on, called “Scrubber-boys.” I’m really looking forward to that, and after that, who knows!? I plan to let the book settle for a month and then do two more read through edits and fully share it on here and Scribophile, make sure it’s exactly what I want and then I am going kick that thing out of the nest! 

After of course, formatting the book, and doing cover art, and figuring out the finer points of self-publishing, oh god……