Though it's true about short stories, novels in particular hold a part of your heart and soul in them. You bleed, sweat, and cry into the pages and the characters on them. Besides the fact they take far longer to write, and more planning, outlining, plotting, developing and world building—they have an effect on you.
It's the characters that affect you. They take control and lead your story on a different path, sometimes ignoring what you're trying to make them do. Also, they can hate you. My first book is set in Reconstruction-era Louisiana. The Klan was rampant down there, and I think my favorite character was the one I hated most. I loved him, because I hated everything he stood for, said, and thought (even I had a little hand in his villainy!).
But why did I hate him? He was a horrible, murderous thug in the Klan and went against everything I personally believe. I had such fun writing him for that very reason!
Back to short stories. If I had to write this guy for ten to twenty pages, he'd be over my shoulder for at max two to three days. With a novel I had this monstrous bigot in my head for five years (first books always take longer, and hey I wasn't nearly as focused as I am now!). Five years to have a cast of five main characters, all separate with separate motivations, beliefs and personalities is a lot to maintain. Kinda. Not really since they would do what they wanted.
I wrote another short story, which I'm surprised hasn't sold, but have realized why it probably won't. It's twenty pages, and though I knew the main character, how he thought, felt, his goal, and personality—he was a relative guest in my head. He arrived on a friday afternoon, and was gone by Sunday evening. Took me three days to write his story, compared to the five years with the cast of Book #1.
My second book is finished and out to a couple agents. It took me WAY less time to finish it, as should be expected. I'll say it took seven to eight months—mind you this was during a class at Harvard (which was INSANE) and a killer commute.
This book was much easier to write since I'm a lot more familiar with medieval fantasy than Civil War history (which now I think I know a fair amount. Not a by expert by any stretch of the imagination, but I know a little something something!).
Again, seven or eight months is a lot shorter than five years, but those characters are still with me. I had such fun writing them, because the characters in the "group" were a common fantasy trope on the flip side (all my tropes need to be twisted—I hate clichés!).
This group involves three characters forced together to do something (the trope), become reluctant "friends (trope) and then conflict with each other while trying to accomplish their own goals....to the point of trying to kill one another at certain times (trope flipped!).
Another funny trope (I think) is that there's the backwater farm boy "destined for greatness" and....that's all I'll say since this will hopefully sell.
I forgot to add this snippet of info. Alas! My agent was forced to step back due to his major health issues. Though it's a bummer, I only hope he gets better!
I started that ever so daunting task of querying again. Having an agent will probably give me a good boost in acquiring another one.
The publishing industry is achingly slow, so the best thing to deal with the wait is to keep writing!
I'm already outlining my third book (the second in a planned trilogy starting with my second book. Sounds confusing right?). However, I'll probably hold actually writing the second installment in case the first one does not sell. If the first in the trilogy doesn't sell, why would the second?
Of course, I could make the second book a stand-alone, but then I would have refocus on introducing all the characters, which were explored in the first one. I might do that, to be honest.
However, I also love writing short stories. This may sound arrogant or stupid or both, but I find writing short stories easy. I wrote the one I just sold in under two hours, not counting the editing afterwards.
I'll post later about why and how short stories come more naturally to me.
So, since one of my short stories will be published soon, I decided to shamelessly promote it. Though, I can't really say anything about it...besides it being a Lovecraftian Horror story. Sold it to a great small press, Innsmouth Free Press...they print Lovecraftian stories????
For those of you who don't know, the press takes its name from H.P. Lovecraft's novella, "The Shadow Over Innsmouth." It's actually a great story that has even been made into a movie. Stuart Gordan directed the film, Dagon. Gordon actually has a deep fondness for Lovecraft. He directed "From Beyond" which was another awesome Lovecraft story and Re-animator. He also directed the episode of Masters of Horror called, Dreams in the Witch-House. Good episode though I felt he strayed too much from the original story.
Anyway, nearly all Lovecraftt's stories involve what's called, Cosmic Indifference. In medieval times man thought the Earth was the center of the universe and thus everything revolved around us. WE were kind go a big deal. Cosmic Indifference is the exact opposite. The human race is an ant on the floor of a universe filled with gods, demons, and creatures so vast and great they barely pay attention to us. Do we pay attention to ants on a regular basis? No.
So, at the end of almost every Lovecraft story...the protagonists lose. They go insane, die, or left not "insane" but emotionally shattered to the point that they are a shell of a person. And people love this! There are whole books, philosophies, and debates about Cosmic Indifference and the "mythos" H.P. built.
I say, "mythos" because in actuality Lovecraft never really intended to set down a defined multiverse. Like the great writer he was, he winged it. He didn't follow any rules, he just wrote a specific story and used the same names and/or concepts. Basically, he didn't want to constrain himself to follow anything but his own imagination.
And that's the point of this post (or now it forms the point)...don't constrain your imagination. Write whatever you desire.
A sudden throbbing pain jolted Grimurl from his dream
of his father’s old pipe playing. He was greeted with another burst of pain, a thump
from a villager’s booted foot that rolled Grimurl onto his back. Groaning, he
took a moment to scan his surroundings: a few decaying horse stalls, mounds of
rotten hay stinking of some yellow fungus, a scythe racked on the wall, and a
trio of gruff men.
“Please—I’m sorry—It was an accident. I just wanted to
ask about her roses,” moaned Grimurl, trying to sit up from the hard earthen
floor. He glanced at the villager standing over him, a barrel-chested man with
shaggy blonde hair, garbed in a filthy white tunic. Grimurl smiled lightly,
looking deeply into the villager’s dark chestnut eyes, hoping he would feel
some sympathy for the satyr. A scoff from a rotund, greasy looking man behind
him foiled that idea.
“Liar!” screamed the blonde-haired man, kicking
Grimurl’s side again. “Why us? What have we done to you, beast?” he demanded,
shoving Grimurl back on to the ground and placing his foot on the satyr’s
“Why you what?” asked Grimurl, confused. Though
wracked with agony, groggy, and a bit hungry for some fern leaves, he couldn’t
help noticing a peculiar musk in the stable. He hadn’t noticed it before,
perhaps because he was unconscious, but now Grimurl smelled it—like wet fur.
“He’s lying, Bertrand,” interjected the other
villager, a lanky redheaded man, sitting nearby on a pile of the rotten hay.
The blonde man, Bertrand, growled and turned back to
Grimurl, “The sheep, the goats, the cattle! You’ve been sneaking around here at
night killing and slaughtering all our livestock.”
“Ha! You look at him shake,” sneered the lanky
villager, with an outstretched finger.
“Shut it, Corwyn! I want to know why us? What’ll it
take for you to leave us alone?” growled Bertrand, removing his foot, bending
down, and grabbing Grimurl by the horns. He hauled the Satyr up to his feet,
ignoring the fae creature’s bleating cries.
“Sirs, you’re wrong. I’m sorry, but you’re just
wrong,” Grimurl moaned, stamping his hooves on the ground to show the
All three men glanced down at the satyr’s goat-legs,
and burst out laughing. Bertrand let go of Grimurl’s horns, and pushed him
away. “Now that’s funny!” he exclaimed.
“I don’t think so,” grumbled Grimurl, rubbing his sore
horns, and then brushing the dirt from his furry legs. “But since we got off on
the wrong leg so to speak,” smiled
the satyr to another gale of laughter from the villagers, “Maybe I can help you
with whatever’s killing your livestock. I can find any animal in the woods,
Bertrand and Corwyn fell silent, exchanging glances.
“How you know it’s an animal, beast?” questioned Bertrand suspiciously, both
villagers looked to the third, who as of yet said nothing. He was bulkier than
his companions, wearing padded armor, furrowing his thick monobrow.
“Oh—” said Grimurl uneasily, “Well, I just assumed since you
saw me,” he looked at his goat legs. “And figured it was an animal, not to
mention you used the word ‘slaughter’…that’s how,” he smiled cheerfully.
“Aye, it be an animal. The worst kind there is,” said the
bulky, armored villager. “I kept quiet till now—thought with the full moon
passing two night’s ago, it wouldn’t matter. But, last night…there was no full
moon…we have ourselves a werewolf, boys,” he said ominously.
I decided to post some short stories, just for my own giggles! :)
Grimurl had to rest. He
halted, heaving clouds of breath into the cool night air. Laying a hand against a towering oak, he could feel Nature's lifeblood coursing through its woody veins. He glanced around him, and decided he had taken the right direction—this forest was thick with trees that had been born centuries ago.
for Grimurl's blood echoed through the woods, reverberating off each leaf on
every tree. Their violent calls terrified the young satyr. There would be no escape
this time, thought Grimurl and in a single bound, his goat legs propelled him
onto the treetops. He climbed several feet higher, finding a long sturdy branch, he crawled to where it met the tree's crown. Still shivering, half from fear and half from the chill in the breeze, Grimurl huddled himself close to the tree so the wood warmed him. It was delightful, Nature wrapped her leaves around him and for a moment he forgot he was being hunted.
Grimurl cursed under his breath when he spied the pinpoints of torchlight bobbing among
the trees. He remembered. But it was an accident. Grimurl had not meant to frighten the woman. He
just wanted to ask her about the roses in her garden. Perhaps his legs had frightened her, he thought, studying the hairy appendages. No, that couldn't be it—maybe the sound of his hoofs on her floor? No—they sound just like a horse's...his horns! "That's it," he whispered excitedly to himself. Grimurl felt the small curved bones atop his head.
Maybe he could reason
with the villagers, yes that is a great idea, Grimurl thought. He would properly introduce himself, let the woman feel his horns to prove they're harmless. If that didn't work he would show
the woman the field where the perfect flowers grow, and even give her his
finest flute. Of course, that had to work! Grimurl began the awkward climb
down the oak. If only he was not afraid of heights he would jump, he thought. "You old fool, why'd you jump up here?" he asked himself with giggle and a bleat.
Grimurl turned around as he made his way down through the branches. He wanted to be able to talk to the villagers when they found him. Suddenly, the sensation of fire struck his chest and his heart seized. Clutching the arrow in his chest, Grimurl cried out in
pain and fell from the tree.