L.W. Flouisa's picture
L.W. Flouisa from Tennessee is reading More Murakami June 11, 2014 - 2:27pm

Is developing a character for short fiction different from developing a character for novels?

I don't mean like novelettes that range from 7,500 words to 17,500 words, but really short stories like those from 1,000 to 2,000 words.

Something about the process seems like it would be different. Because of brevity, one would almost have to rely on the unsaid as much of the said. And not as much on flashback.

I don't mean that all novels do, I just mean of novels I have read. (I'm specifically thinking of SF novels.) Even in reading years best sf and Neuromancer, the approach to character development seems a touch different.

Gordon Highland's picture
Gordon Highland from Kansas City is reading Secondhand Souls by Christopher Moore June 11, 2014 - 4:25pm

Yes. For short fiction, I only need to know how a character would react in the face of the current challenge presented, as opposed to every challenge a novel's plotting would present, cutting way down the on the backstory and psychological development needed. In a novel I can reveal a lot more facets of them, like maybe they're intellectually aggressive but sexually passive and vegan but abusive toward animals and vote liberal but are homophobic and hate kids but adore their nieces. Too many of those dynamic facets in a short is gonna confuse your readers, and you don't have room to set up scenes that illuminate many of them, anyway.

L.W. Flouisa's picture
L.W. Flouisa from Tennessee is reading More Murakami June 11, 2014 - 5:02pm

Ooh, that could get confusing really fast.:P

Thank you.

Brandon's picture
Brandon from KCMO is reading Made to Break June 12, 2014 - 9:41am

Yes. In a short story I'm giving the character a problem, and the reader learns about the character by how they deal with that problem. A novel, on the other hand, I'm fleshing out every facet of their personality: what they like/dislike, their wants, their motivations, etc. Some of these things aren't required. Like, the novel isn't going to fall to pieces if you don't know the main character listens to Radiohead. I guess what it comes down to is that word count more or less equates to time, and if you only have 1,000 - 2,000 words, you don't have a lot of time for character development. 

L.W. Flouisa's picture
L.W. Flouisa from Tennessee is reading More Murakami June 12, 2014 - 10:55am

I'm finding it particularly hard, when doing stories that are around 897 words for my upper middle grade fairy tale. I'm not sure what I'm going to do when I get around to editing my picture book.

Yea time makes sense. I know back when I read comics, it was those one shots that while enjoyable didn't have as much character development as something like a manga epic. (Yes I admit, I was an Otaku at one point.)