Writing Short Fiction with an Eye on Long Fiction

This Photo is Reminscent of My Current Short Story in Progress

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I’m in the process of wrapping up the second of two short stories that I’ve written in between drafts of Shadow of the Black City. With each short story I write, my awareness of things grows and my writing improves.  Things blurred in the murk of my peripheral awareness are coming into focus.

Right now I’m the equivalent of a guy in a blackout who just found the circuit breaker with a weak flashlight. That may be a bit of an overstatement, but with how much I’ve learned in the space of a few weeks, I can only imagine how much I still don’t know.

I want to see the whole house bathed in light.

What I’m suggesting is by no means novel (heh). Those who’ve written for a while and have explored the short story markets know of what I speak.

For me, the appeal of the short story is summed up by a couple of quotes from Janet Burroway in Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft:

The greater the limitation in time and space, the greater the necessity of the pace, sharpness, and density.

and:

The form of the novel is an expanded short story form. It asks for a conflict, a crisis, and a resolution…

Sounds like stuff I want to do in my work whether regardless of the form. I love how the limitations of the short story force me to economize for effectiveness in plot, character and theme.

It’s also nice to take a break from the novel and explore unmapped areas of my imagination. Those forays into the unknown are great for churning up the subconscious and seeing what ideas arise. Writing begets more story ideas and better writing.

How can you lose?

Comments ( 9 )

  1. ReplyJim
    I totally agree Jonathon. Though I have a long, long way to go, I'm amazed at how much I can learn in just 3,000 or 4,000 words. Thanks for the insights!
    • ReplyJonathan Danz
      You're welcome. Thanks for stopping in. Just checked out your blog. I enjoyed your writing. Your voice comes through. Keep on keepin' on.
  2. Replysarahwedgbrow
    Encouraging post! I find it is so helpful to not only read different forms of writing, but to write in different forms: poetry, short story, novel (even blogging has a place). However, I haven't worked on anything but my novel for a very long while. Just a poem or two. I've been itching to get back to short stories, so perhaps...
    • ReplyJonathan Danz
      It doesn't matter what we write, as long as we're writing! I've enjoyed the interlude between drafts of my novel. I feel like I'm still working and learning as opposed to waiting to get back to the next draft. With a little luck, I'll get one of these babies published.
  3. Replyjenniferneri
    Oh yes, I too love shorts. They teach me so much, and offer so much. It's been a little while since I wrote one, so focused on the novel I have been. In the past, I have always weaved shorts into my writing time, coming back to my novel rejuvenated. Maybe it's time. :)
    • ReplyJonathan Danz
      How nice to come back to your novel feeling fresh and ready to go. I didn't know what to expect when I began writing short stories, but I'm so glad I decided to do it.
  4. ReplyRebecca @ Diary of a Virgin Novelist
    I totally agree with you. This is the lamest analogy ever, but since I write long fiction I feel like short stories are poems - each word and sentence is so critical to get write.
  5. ReplyRebecca @ Diary of a Virgin Novelist
    oh dude. major brain burp. RIGHT not write.

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