Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Short Stories vs. Novels

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 clich├ęs!).

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.

And blog spiel over.

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