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Old 01-06-2015, 09:49 PM   #16
Marta
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Originally Posted by Alyssa View Post
I have trouble with short stories.
We're in good company, Alyssa. I have fairly little difficulty crafting short stories, but have much more whenever attempting anything longer than about 12 pages!
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Old 01-06-2015, 10:19 PM   #17
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I think I am strangely better at short stories. I find it more difficult to keep a story going for a longer period.

To be fair, I think a LOT of authors struggle more with longer narratives. It's just that they don't notice. Think about it... how many times have you been reading a novel and felt like it was dragging along... or you like it once you get into it but those first couple of chapters were hard to push through... or you like the story until the ending, which doesn't feel satisfying somehow.

I think a lot of writers fall into the "more is better" trap and feel like they have to make a really big/long/meandering story... when they really don't need to do that.

All this isn't to say there aren't good long stories or good long-story writers... it's just that a LOT of books out there would be better if they were short-stories instead of novels.
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Old 01-07-2015, 01:14 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alyssa View Post
Scribbly, good advice, but you're off track for this thread, dude. I don't have any problem dividing a story into coherent parts/chapters. I don't even have trouble with dividing a long serial into individual issues. I have trouble with short stories. Short stories are not merely fragments of a larger project, they're succinct, contained packages. A short story of 23 pages is not the same as a 23 page issue to a long serial. Pick up issue #82 of The Walking Dead. That's hardly equal to a short story. It's a fragment of a larger work. That's not what I'm talking about in this thread.

I'll write to all the awesome folk who chimed in on this thread later today; I just wanted to clarify what this thread was about.

Thanks, guys!
Well, I'm sorry if I went off track then.
For the record, I never say that you would have any trouble dividing a long serial into individual issues. For the opposite, what I said is that this shouldn't be a problem for anyone who knows well how to write a long story based in a plot.

What I was suggesting for you, as exercise of style, is to use the plot for your long story and work each fragment of the story as it were an individual short story itself with its own introduction conflict and resolution.
That's all.
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Old 01-08-2015, 10:41 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by Scribbly View Post
What I was suggesting for you, as exercise of style, is to use the plot for your long story and work each fragment of the story as it were an individual short story itself with its own introduction conflict and resolution.
That's all.
This is essentially the same advice I picked up from a book that dealt with constructing comic stories of different lengths. One of the methods described was the 5WH method. You ask/answer who, when, where (setup), what, why (conflict/motivation), how it went (resolution). Do that once and it's a short story. String enough of those together and it's a long story.

Alyssa,
What sort of short stories do you enjoy? What made those work? I'd recommend sampling short stories in various media--don't limit yourself to comics--to see what makes them tick. The interesting thing is you can compare and contrast how the same author approaches both formats (e.g. Stephen King).
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Old 01-08-2015, 05:11 PM   #20
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If you want to get short stories, I suggest reading some of Hemingway's shorts. Old school, I know, but he was one of the best.
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Old 01-08-2015, 09:18 PM   #21
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@gmartyt: Thanks for the tip!

@Dave: You're awesome. Thanks for the advice and example! And while I've never played WoW, I'm a big enough nerd to understand the reference. Your short story cracks me up.

@Rin: Haven't seen these Future Shock stories, and I've no idea what you're talking about. I'll check it out. You've given some great tips, both here and in the challenge thread. Thanks for that.

@engcheedraws: Wow, thanks for going through the extra effort of going through my little brainstorm ideas! I think I'm getting a better idea of how to approach things, now.

@Scrappy: I think probably part of my problem is that I really haven't read many shorts in general, let alone find many that I've liked. I sit there with an idea and think, "Well, I'm not happy with the brevity here, therefore no one else will be happy with it". Your example regarding the two friends who now hate each other is good, and I do use tactics to imply background in my story (rather than beating folk over the head with it), but what if the story was ABOUT two friends who come to hate each other? How much do you show, and how much do you leave out? I guess that's my tripping point.

@Marta: I like to write big worlds with big issues, and have the story focus on multiple characters, each with their own deeper subplots. This is my undoing.

@HDMe: Absolutely. This is why I never go anywhere without my editors. Writers love words.

@Scribbly: Ah, I think I get what you're saying, now! Any exercise to help me improve is a good one. Thanks for the tip.

@B-McKinley & Max Romaine: Great tips. Like I mentioned to Scrappy, I haven't found many short stories that I like. I've picked up a number of those "best short stories" collections, and found that I don't like the majority of them. I'll like the world, or a character, but the story leaves me wondering how people can read that and be satisfied. This might be a case of me just needing to absorb more short stories.

I posted my short story to the writing challenge Steven created. You guys are more than welcome to tear it up if you're so inclined. I'm here to learn.

Thanks so much for chiming in, everyone!
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