alexgamen's picture
alexgamen from Argentina is reading 1Q84; The Way of Kings January 11, 2013 - 2:06pm

You may have discussed a similar topic at length, but I'm fairly new and I haven't found many people discussing their novels. I've noticed a stronger focus on short stories, and since I've written more novels than short stories (maybe I'm a mutant at that) it surprised me a bit. I'm not saying 'novels are better, short stories are for pussies who can't handle a manly novel' or anything like that, I'm just curious because I'm the opposite, I prefer writing long-form, and even though I've written some shorts, they don't give me the same satisfaction as longer works (for both reading and writing).

 

So, do you write short stories because:

  • you like them best?
  • it's 'easier' to try to get them published, or at least derive visibility from them?
  • you're attempting to improve your craft before tackling a novel?
  • all of the above
  • none of the above

 

Matt Attack's picture
Matt Attack from Richmond, Va. is reading As I Lay Dying, William Faulkner January 11, 2013 - 2:14pm

No. It's not. In the end, most of us realized if we wanted our novels published, or to make a career out of writing, we'd need to be established already. The best way to do this is publishing and building an audience; whether by anthologies, homegrown e-zines/publishing houses, or in alot of cases established areas of interest. Also, don't forget the adage, practice makes perfect and short stories and flash lend themselves towards making practice easy.

If you have a novel you're hoping to work through, by all means, post and/or question. 

Brandon's picture
Brandon from KCMO is reading Made to Break January 11, 2013 - 2:18pm

I think there's a fair few of us that have novels in various stages of completion. I actually have an ongoing column discussing mine. 

Short stories seem to garnish more attention though because that's what most people are workshopping and there's so many threads dedicated to contests and prompts. 

sean of the dead's picture
sean of the dead from Madisonville, KY is reading Peckerwood, by Jed Ayres January 11, 2013 - 2:23pm

oh, sorry, I thought this was going to be a hard hitting expose...carry on.

And good luck AlexGamen!

Seb's picture
Seb from Thanet, Kent, UK January 11, 2013 - 2:51pm

Alex, I agree that most people here appear short-story focused. I haven't written any short stories, other than the occasional Flash Fiction entry, which I tend to write there and then in one draft.

I'm working on a novel, 30,000 words or so in at present, and that holds all of my attention in terms of fiction writing. Been at it for about six months, the only short I'm considering working on is the Teleport Us challenge as it seems like fun, but only if inspiration happens to strike. I don't go out of my way to distract myself.

Personally I don't discuss the details of my story, or workshop any scenes or chapters, as I don't want to. Once I've finished the first draft, then the second, then the third, I intend to pass it around in hard copy to some writers, editors, etc. that I know, and they can go through it with a red pen. Then I will bribe them with alcohol to meet up and discuss their thoughts with me, so ideas can bounce around. Finally I will ignore all their advice and decide it is finished, before sending it to an agent who will immediately get it published.

That's when I win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Or so the story goes.

Anyway, I came here because of, and continually for, the essays. I joined the forum initially to network and bounce occasional vague ideas around, but have since discovered the community works in a different way. So now I don't post very often.

Still, good to make your acquaintance.

Which was nice.

ReneeAPickup's picture
Class Facilitator
ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading Wanderers by Chuck Wendig January 11, 2013 - 2:57pm

Every one has answered pretty well, but I'll just add my .02. The workshop here is better suited for short stories, it's hard to workshop a novel without having someone (or someones) dedicated to reading each chapter, in full, in order, and critiquing it based on that. Short stories are a way to build a platform/gain visibility, yes, you hit that on the head. I know several people on LR who are working on novels, a few of the regulars are published novelists. 

There certainly isn't any prejudice, and I suppose if you reached out to one or two people and asked them to follow your novel in the workshop it could work very well. 

Bradley Sands's picture
Bradley Sands from Boston is reading Greil Marcus's The History of Rock 'N' Roll in Ten Songs January 11, 2013 - 3:01pm

What SparrowStark said. I wish I could belong to a writing workshop, but I mostly write novellas, so I don't think it would be very helpful.

Dwayne's picture
Dwayne from Cincinnati, Ohio (suburbs) is reading books that rotate to often to keep this updated January 11, 2013 - 3:06pm

In a word yes. None of the above; it is just easier to get a short story read then a novel. Less work.

@Sands - I'd love to as well, but I just don't think that peole are dependable enough to get one going.

bryanhowie's picture
bryanhowie from FW, ID is reading East of Eden. Steinbeck is FUCKING AMAZING. January 11, 2013 - 3:10pm

The novellette I wrote got really good critiques by putting it up in small chunks (although, much larger than I usually would).  When I posted the revisions (14,000 words), I still got great feedback.  I'd say that if you go chapter by chapter, you'd do great in the workshop (especially if the word count is 2,500 or so).

Stephen_Inf's picture
Stephen_Inf from Illinois is reading Whiskey Tango Foxtrot January 11, 2013 - 3:49pm

I prefer writing longer works as well. Since joining here though I've had my eyes opened a little bit to the fact that I enjoy reading short stories and flash, enough so that I've been trying my hand a little at both lately to break up the work I've been doing editing a longer piece. I think from a workshop standpoint you're probably just as well-off with a novel excerpt as you'd be with something shorter. Then again I have yet to submit anything of any length to the workshop so I guess I can't say for sure. Hopefully I will have a more informed opinion on the subject in the very near future.

Courtney's picture
Courtney from the Midwest is reading Monkey: A Journey to the West and a thousand college textbooks January 11, 2013 - 8:22pm

I like writing shorter pieces because, to be frank, I'm young. I know I'm not going to get a novel published any time soon -- I'm only nineteen, I'm a semester into college, and I've barely developed a coherent knowledge of what makes a sentence, let alone plot arc and story structure and character development.

I write them for practice, and because it's much easier to stay dedicated to something short, and because I can get immediate feedback on every aspect of a story by workshopping it once, whereas I'd need dozens of workshop sittings to get a full novel critiqued on the same aspects.

Let's fucking face it: despite having short stories published three times, and running a vaguely successful lit mag, I am not an author and I have years to go before I'm good enough to call myself one. I've written a novella, yes, and I'm working on a novel, but I don't plan to even attempt to get these published until I'm at least in my goddamn twenties.

Brandon's picture
Brandon from KCMO is reading Made to Break January 11, 2013 - 8:26pm

Let's fucking face it: despite having short stories published three times, and running a vaguely successful lit mag, I am not an author and I have years to go before I'm good enough to call myself one. I've written a novella, yes, and I'm working on a novel, but I don't plan to even attempt to get these published until I'm at least in my goddamn twenties.

But you're way ahead of the game. Way ahead.

Richard's picture
Richard from St. Louis is reading various anthologies January 11, 2013 - 8:33pm

^all of the above.

i've written three novels, but over 65 short stories (and one novella).

hard to workshop a novel, but it can be done—people bail.

short stories are just smaller arcs, it's like running—start with short dashes and sprints, then longer runs, then miles, then marathons. you need to learn how to work those muscles—plot, setting, character, conflict, resolution, etc.

also, building up your CV/bio with great short story placements can earn you money, get you awards and recognition, and help build an audience.

it's also more rewarding in the short run, especially if you place a story. you could spend easily FIVE YEARS on a novel and never sell it. that could CRUSH a person. my current novel, Disintegration i started in late 2008, wrote for 2-3 years, including editing, started submitting, that took a year, got an agent last june, still shopping it.

you can also practice writing different genres to see what you really like. i've written horror, fantasy, SF, crime/neo-noir, magical realsim and literary. i know my voice, but i'm also still developing it.

if i had three pieces of advice to a new author, ONE piece would be to write 10-20 short stories—start to finish, and place them, before you EVER try a novel. hone your craft, find your voice, and start connecting with a community.

(the other two pieces of advice are READ constantly, and find a NETWORK of friends/peers).

Covewriter's picture
Covewriter from Nashville, Tennessee is reading & Sons January 11, 2013 - 8:38pm

I'm in a writing group on my town in which one person is about to publish a novel. The others of us are doing short stories or songs ( I live in Nashville so the song part is strong.) But the novelist has been reading chapters at a time to us, and we all feel a part of his success, and we learn from each other little things each month. You can post chapters of your novel here. I like it when people are doing different things and we can all gain from just talking about writing. 

Brandon's picture
Brandon from KCMO is reading Made to Break January 11, 2013 - 8:39pm

Yeah, to sort of add to what Richard is saying, short stories are definitely where you should start.

I began writing seriously when I was 20, but I thought it was all about novels so I never actually published anything until I was 26. Took three fucking novels to get one that actually worked and made some money. If I had to do it all over again, I would have spent those first few years playing the short game and beefing up my resume. It would have saved me a lot of time and heartache and keystrokes.

Bradley Sands's picture
Bradley Sands from Boston is reading Greil Marcus's The History of Rock 'N' Roll in Ten Songs January 12, 2013 - 5:23am

I'm really not interested at all in getting feedback about a story unless the critiquer has read the entire story, so workshopping chunks of a book rather than the whole thing doesn't work for me. I've workshopped an outline before though.

alexgamen's picture
alexgamen from Argentina is reading 1Q84; The Way of Kings January 12, 2013 - 6:10am

Wow, thanks for all the replies. This is what I wanted, a short glimpse into other guys' (and girls) motivations.

Some background:

I've got a novel coming out from Random House in a couple of months (I'm from Argentina, so it's in Spanish, for the LATAM market) and already have two others to submi, plus my own self-published sci-fi/fantasy book (first part of a saga that I mean to continue as self-pub just to get it out there).

I'm now working on a longer epic in English since the market for fantasy and sci-fi is much bigger in English than in spanish-speaking countries. I've put some chapters out there in other places (like Critters) and got some good pointers and people enjoyed it.

So for me, it's always been the other way. I started my first novel when I was 15, wrote 250 pages of it and never looked back. I've never been an avid short-story reader (except for Borges and Bradbury, which after reading them kinda makes you feel you can't one-up them, right?), so I guess that's why I didn't start off with short-form.

But given that you all seem to believe in the importance of platform, I'll just go ahead and share one of my short-stories in the workshop and see what happens.

Thanks!

 

ReneeAPickup's picture
Class Facilitator
ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading Wanderers by Chuck Wendig January 12, 2013 - 1:30pm

Alex, that's cool that you were able to find success with a big publisher without building a platform, and I don't think anyone here would think to try and "take that away" from you, but I don't think I'm stretching when I say that what you have done isn't the norm, especially as the game is ever changing and new writers have to deal with publishers that realize most of the books they publish won't make much money--and so they don't particularly want to take chances on a young novelist who hasn't had their name appear anywhere before.

Whoa longest sentence ever.

Courtney's picture
Courtney from the Midwest is reading Monkey: A Journey to the West and a thousand college textbooks January 12, 2013 - 4:24pm

But you're way ahead of the game. Way ahead.

I started writing when I was fifteen, quit when I was seventeen, and picked it back up in February of last year. I had never read short stories and had only really written poetry and the errant short story here and there that was never actually finished.

It was through joining LR that I figured out the best way to improve -- writing short stories, getting feedback, shaping up from that. It's fucking invaluable. I don't agree with Richard about never trying a novel; each short story teaches me more about how to write a novel, and each time I work on my novel I learn more about how to write short stories.

And Richard mentioned "trying new genres" -- YES, YES, YES. I never would have learned that I liked writing horror if I hadn't tried short stories, let alone neo-noir, transgressive, or interstitial.

Carly Berg's picture
Carly Berg from USA is reading Story Prompts That Work by Carly Berg is now available at Amazon January 13, 2013 - 12:47am

But given that you all seem to believe in the importance of platform, I'll just go ahead and share one of my short-stories in the workshop and see what happens.

None of the people I've known or known of who got novels picked up by big houses had any big fan base of their own first. I'm sure it wouldn't have hurt, if they had a good way to get one of a size that would sway a big time publisher. But they just delivered a novel that stood out from the rest (ha, "just" as if it's easy, right?). Their names were built from their novels, not the other way around. If my goal was to have a novel published, I would put the effort into writing it, as you did.

Also, congratulations. Woo hoo for you!

 

Carly Berg's picture
Carly Berg from USA is reading Story Prompts That Work by Carly Berg is now available at Amazon January 13, 2013 - 1:03am

So, do you write short stories because:
•you like them best?
•it's 'easier' to try to get them published, or at least derive visibility from them?
•you're attempting to improve your craft before tackling a novel?
•all of the above
•none of the above
 

I like all the different characters and ideas in writing flash fiction. A constant stream of finished stories and acceptances is more fun to me than putting in weeks or months on things that might not go anywhere. I guess I just enjoy it the most.