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Old 12-02-2012, 06:53 PM   #3076
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I'm no highly successful novelist, but I would disagree.
I've seen much improvement in the storytelling and technical skills in my novels due to my short stories skills continuing to improve. I've also read far too many published novels that are popular but rightly get slammed by critics for poor technical writing, or epic fantasies that ramble for sometimes a hundred pages or more without moving the plot forward or use page after page of narrative in their storytelling. There are things you simply can't get away with in short stories and I believe that learning to write short stories well can only improve your ability to write a good novel.
Also, though most of us won't end up doing as well as folks like Ken Liu, there are highly successful short story writers out there who haven't published novels (as far as I know), but when the do write one, I'm sure it will be good and they won't have any trouble finding a publisher!
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Old 12-02-2012, 07:29 PM   #3077
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Sure, compared to being highly successful with novels, short stories don't pay much.

The rest of it?

Sounds like they either failed at short stories or never wrote them and now are invested in their way of doing things. And people get invested in their own way--see how defensive I'm being? That's because I'm invested in mine. I love writing short stories, and like hell am I going to concede that I'm wasting my time.

My experience is limited, I grant you, but to me the idea that no skills transfer between novel writing and short story writing seems nonsensical. Sure, they're different, but it's all storytelling. They're all paragraphs and scenes and characters and story arcs. How could more experience with those things be bad?

I do think you could get experience with those things writing novels right off the bat, maybe trunking a few before you hit your stride. If you disliked writing short stories, I would advise you to ditch them pronto--life's too short, right? But you LIKE them. So do what you like! If you were going to take the safe road you'd be in law school, not on writing forums.

Oh, and if you're serious about novels (if that's the goal, for instance), maybe consider ElizaC's method, which I have shamelessly guessed from the above post. Try doing both now. Don't stick to short stories for ten years and then expect to write a seamless novel right off the bat, but work on both more or less concurrently. That way what you learn from shorts will inform your novel writing, and you'll also be learning the ways that they're different.
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Old 12-03-2012, 01:48 AM   #3078
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Everyone's process is different. Some successful novelists will tell you not to waste time with short stories, and some will say it's a great way to get started. Don't let what worked for this one person dictate how you do things.

For me the main factor is enjoyment. I write short stories because it gives me pleasure to do so.
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Old 12-03-2012, 08:34 AM   #3079
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eliza C View Post
I've seen much improvement in the storytelling and technical skills in my novels due to my short stories skills continuing to improve...
I'm encouraged to hear this. I think because I can easily get feedback on shorts, as a newish writer, I've seen improvement in my writing that would have been harder obtain due to crits on novels being harder to obtain.

I'm not sure if writing novels is a goal for me, but I'd like to try my hand at it. Brynn, your suggestion is a good one for me to consider. Thanks.

When I began writing, I had no idea I'd enjoy it so much. It was simply that I needed to put something creative back in my life after I'd become focused on looking after others all the time and doing jobs. Turned out, I found it fascinating.

Short stories were a natural way to experiment and learn. I won't know how I enjoy writing a novel unless I try it. It's never been about money, but since I now want to spend so much time writing, sales would help me justify that to my family (even without much money), as would focus on something with potential to make money (ie: a novel, as unlikely as it is that it would make much, even if it passed the hurdle of selling). So you could say there are external pressures to do with how I spend my time.

On a personal level, I am more interested in developing into a good enough writer to get published, and I find it hard to imagine constructing a novel if I can't handle a short story.

That's good advice, thanks Alex. This author is one person of many. I shouldn't let it get to me. It's just that they are sooo successful, and their course was damn good.

I can't imagine not writing short stories now, even if I do attempt a novel, because the achievement of writing one brings me pleasure. One of the reasons I felt like I'd been kicked in the gut was because I enjoy writing shorts.

It's helpful to get some other points of view. Thanks everyone.
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Old 12-04-2012, 04:55 PM   #3080
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Also, there's a tendency to pick up a "rule" and over-generalise it. I've seen a few writers attempt to write a novel, fail to finish, and then decide that they will learn by writing short stories instead, because that's clearly easier. This is something I generally recommend against - learning to stay invested and finish a long piece is a specific skill. I responded last month to a friend who doesn't read short stories, doesn't like writing short stories but thought as he's failed to write two novels, he thinks he "should" learn how to write short stories first so that there isn't such a time investment if he fails.

My advice was that all writing is good but switching to short stories really isn't the best way to learn how to write a novel. It isn't a short cut. Your writing will improve and thus your novel writing will improve but if you dream of writing novels, you shouldn't put it off to write short stories.

This could be the advice that your author friend was thinking of, but then he over-extended it.

Writing short stories is GREAT and writing and revising will lead to better writing, no matter what type of writing.

I know people who say that writing poetry has made a big difference to their short stories and I believe this to be true (there is a lyricism in their words which stands out). I know that my short story writing has had a wonderful positive effect on my non-fiction articles. It is all intertwined and beautiful.
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Old 12-04-2012, 07:37 PM   #3081
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fihr View Post
So I was told today, by a highly successful fantasy novelist, that writing short stories is a waste of time. No money to be made, compared to novels, and I'm not developing the right skill set. ...
What does everyone else think of writing shorts along the path to developing skills to write a novel?
I think they're full of crapola, personally.

1. If you're only in it for the money, there are *much* better and easier and surer ways of getting it.

2. Short stories allows you to experiment with technique and idea in a way you may not be willing or able to do in a novel.

3. While there are a few skills specific to shorter works, and a few skills specific to novels, overall, gaining mastery in one form puts you ahead in gaining mastery in the other.

4. Writing a novel takes a lot longer than writing short stories. Okay, the payout is bigger if you pub it, but if you don't? There's an all-your-eggs-in-one-basket thing. Great if you can pull it off, but not the only way to invest your time.

5. Writing shorts has been oodles of fun, taught me a lot, and people I don't know have read my stuff and *enjoyed* it. That's why I read, and that's why I write. I care about the money *much* less than any of the rest of it.

Now all that aside... I think people tend to have a length that's more "natural" for them. We have people here who can (and do!) write amazing stories in 100 words, when I can barely get out something coherent in under 5k, and there are people where a novel is the natural length. There's nothing wrong with any of that, except in assuming that one length is better or easier than the other, because it's different for every single person, and we need both.

My lengthy $.02
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Old 12-04-2012, 08:12 PM   #3082
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Writing short stories isn't a waste of time. However, I've found writing a novel is really a whole different animal. The basic skills are the same (constructing coherent sentences, building tension, writing a cohesive plot) but the application is at opposite ends of the spectrum.

Short stories, by necessity, rely on a single strong plot. They do not need to have sub-plots to bolster the action through the second act/middle (though the longer ones can). A novel, on the other hand, needs some complexity or it's just boring. The subplots and complications necessary to make a successful novel are generally a "new skill" for short story writers. (This, actually, is the main reason I don't write shorts very well. It's hard for me to focus on just one plotline.)

The caution about writing short stories to learn about writing novels has stemmed from a misconception by some writers that a novel is just a series of short stories strung together. Which they aren't. (Unless you're Ray Bradbury, in which case the rules don't apply.) But that doesn't mean you won't learn good writing skills with shorts, it just means you'll need to learn additional skills if you move to writing novels.

Aggy, much prefers "long" to "short" but then, she's complicated that way
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Old 12-04-2012, 10:43 PM   #3083
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Thanks everyone, that's very helpful. I think you are probably right, akaSylvia, and the author overextended, or at least assumed my goal is the same as theirs.

Obviously there are skills needed for novels that I won't gain from writing shorts. But when I started writing, I had no clue about any kind of writing technique, or how to put together a simple plot, let alone a complex one. Starting from scratch, I think writing shorts has taught me a lot, helped greatly by getting feedback. I think that would help me starting out on a novel, as Zanzjan has pointed out. Plus I hope to find out more about what I do and don't like writing about.

Aggy, I like your point about learning additional skills. That makes sense to me. So its not a case of no skills gained, but needing to work on novels to learn the extras. Your point about sub-plots makes sense too. I've learned to often excise my sub-plots from my shorts, to keep the length under control. I might enjoy developing them further in a novel.
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Old 12-09-2012, 06:29 PM   #3084
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There's an anthology of short stories being put together to benefit the victims of Hurricane Sandy.

I wrote a blog post about my own experiences with this calamity. Please check it out and, if you can spare $7, support the cause!

http://alexshvartsman.com/2012/12/08...-over-tragedy/
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Old 12-11-2012, 04:02 AM   #3085
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I've been away for a long time. I hope everyone's been having fabulous writing lives.

I did the usual: got depressed, stopped writing, thought about whether my time would be better spent working at the local gas station, had things happen, finished a novel, started querying it...that kind of stuff. Now I'm trying to get back into short stories again and I wanted to stop in and say hi.

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Old 12-11-2012, 04:44 AM   #3086
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Quote:
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I've been away for a long time. I hope everyone's been having fabulous writing lives.

I did the usual: got depressed, stopped writing, thought about whether my time would be better spent working at the local gas station, had things happen, finished a novel, started querying it...that kind of stuff. Now I'm trying to get back into short stories again and I wanted to stop in and say hi.

Welcome back!
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Old 12-11-2012, 05:31 AM   #3087
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SmallThing View Post
I've been away for a long time. I hope everyone's been having fabulous writing lives.

I did the usual: got depressed, stopped writing, thought about whether my time would be better spent working at the local gas station, had things happen, finished a novel, started querying it...that kind of stuff. Now I'm trying to get back into short stories again and I wanted to stop in and say hi.

Glad you're back!

Good luck with the novel queries and your short stories.
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Old 12-11-2012, 06:19 AM   #3088
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Thanks kd and Alex!

And congrats on UFO, Alex. The world is in dire need of a little more humor.
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Old 12-11-2012, 07:03 PM   #3089
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Thank you! The physical books should arrive here on Friday. So excited!
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Old 12-16-2012, 04:55 AM   #3090
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My Christmas calendar is getting chock full, till New Year, then am away on hols... Looking very difficult to get any writing worth speaking of done for another six weeks.

Does anyone else get withdrawal symptoms over the holidays?

Kind of frustrating, but also a good chance to recharge my mind with new things.
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Old 12-22-2012, 03:10 AM   #3091
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I have just posted a call for fiction subs in the nonpaying markets forum.

So fellow W1S1ers! Get off yer' asses and submit your shiny, sparkly stories immediately!
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Old 12-28-2012, 05:38 AM   #3092
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After having grandiose plans for my writing this year, including W1S1, I was hopelessly sidetracked by the Having of A Baby and then the Keeping Alive of the Baby. Which, all in all, was more important than even my beloved writing. I did manage to get a new novel written, but only a handful of short stories.

Aaaanyway, I am hoping for a successful W1S1 year in 2013, because when I looked back over my spreadsheet from 2011, trying W1S1 really gave me a fantastic year of writing.

Also, I missed y'all.
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Old 12-28-2012, 06:22 AM   #3093
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After having grandiose plans for my writing this year, including W1S1, I was hopelessly sidetracked by the Having of A Baby and then the Keeping Alive of the Baby.
Yikes! That sounds terrifying. Hopefully you and Baby are now both healthy and happy?

And yes, welcome back, we missed you too.
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Old 01-02-2013, 07:20 PM   #3094
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Old 01-06-2013, 07:20 PM   #3095
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After having grandiose plans for my writing this year, including W1S1, I was hopelessly sidetracked by the Having of A Baby and then the Keeping Alive of the Baby. Which, all in all, was more important than even my beloved writing. I did manage to get a new novel written, but only a handful of short stories.
Aww, yeah, I think that should take priority. Even still, you managed a lot. Still grandiose in my book.
Quote:
Aaaanyway, I am hoping for a successful W1S1 year in 2013, because when I looked back over my spreadsheet from 2011, trying W1S1 really gave me a fantastic year of writing.
See, me too. Extremely productive year writing the first time I did it. All of the stories were rejected. But still.

Anyway, I'm back (sorta) to do it again. Only, not necessarily the W1 part. Definitely the S1 part though.

I think I'm in for R1 (revising 1) S1. I took a year off (pretty much) writing shorts and focused on the novel. For 2013 I'd really like to get most of the stories I wrote in 2011 published. But I realize they need to be tweaked and revised, especially because I think my skills as a writer have improved since 2011. Or, you know, I hope they have.

So, hope you all don't mind if I hang around even though I'm not doing the official W1S1 Monthly thing. Certainly there are a few new stories rolling around in my brain. At the very least a couple new ones will be written.
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Old 01-18-2013, 11:28 PM   #3096
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For the first time ever I have NINE submissions out at the same time! How I wish I had a 10th to submit, but as my WIP is only 400 words in, I highly doubt I'll finish it before the Rs come straggling into the inbox. But still, proud of my nine little guys.
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Old 01-19-2013, 01:14 AM   #3097
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Thanks to The First Line's prompt, finished the first draft of my first new story for the year yesterday!
Already looking better than last year (where I wrote a grand total of 1 new story for the year in October--a flash piece, yet to be 'cleaned up' ).

Congrats on your new subbing record O'Dandelo!
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Old 01-19-2013, 04:30 PM   #3098
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Great, O'Dandelo! I love when I hit a new record. Don't you feel productive?

And way to go, Tienci. Way to start the year with a bang!
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Old 01-24-2013, 09:15 PM   #3099
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January story done! A little revising and it'll be off to Dirty GRE Words.
Anyone else want to join in the fun? I'm submitting for word list #19.
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Old 01-28-2013, 09:17 PM   #3100
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I have now officially met my January short story goal. Wrote one solid short (just under 5k) and subbed it. Also resubbed two others that came in as rejects this past week (one of which I'd subbed at the beginning of the weeks - thank you Threepenny Review).

Still have to figure out what I did with the Analog reject from December. I think it's still waiting to go back out.
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