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!


5 thoughts on “Short Stories VS. Novels (On Writing and Editing)

  1. Short stories are awesome and all good writers whether published or successful write them and can write them well, it’s the embryo of novel writing.
    Short stories are delicate though, there’s a fine line between SHORT story and elongated story that isn’t a short story or novella.
    I like twists and meaning at the end, but alot of ones I’ve read recently favour a dwindling out process, that’s hugely unsatisfying.

    1. Yeah at 16k words on this “short” story I am definitely in the elongated no man’s land between a short story and a novella. Not sure what to do exactly about that…thanks for you comment though!

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