As the old saying goes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Similarly, the beauty of literature is a personal type of resonance. It is the moment when the words on the page become more than just narrative – they transcend their medium, they make us pause, reflect, perhaps shiver with revelation.
This might be from a particularly acute observation executed in an original yet deeply recognisable way. Or it might be from a statement that describes an experience that previously seemed impossible to put into words. Or from an elegant dance between vocabulary and imagery that creates a vivid experience for the reader.Read More»
Previously, I suggested that it is common (and useful) for writers to start out developing short stories before moving onto novel writing.
I then looked into the finer details of the differences between short story and novel writing to assess why that might be, and how writers can use that information to make the shift between writing short stories and writing novels.
In this post, I am proposing five simple steps to put that transition into action:Read More»
In my last post, I suggested that many writers start out producing short stories before they move onto novel writing. The short story is by no means simply ‘practice’ for novel writing, but it can teach the writer a number of valuable writing skills that can be used to tackle the bigger beast of a novel.
So if many writers start out by writing short stories, how does one make the transition into novel writing?
First, let’s take a look at some of the differences of the two forms.
Writer Anouska Huggins perfectly summed this up in the comments of my last post:
- A novel is a journey – not only for the characters, but for the writer and the reader.
- A short story is an intense experience – something to linger over and savour.
Now let’s look in detail at some of the differences that will inform the way you write in these different formats.Read More»
When starting out as a novel writer, is it more useful to build the writing muscle by writing short stories, or immerse oneself in novel writing and learn as you go?
To me, this is an interesting question. When I first started writing as a hobby ten years ago, I was naturally drawn to the short story. It is something I’d had experience with at school, and I found that posting my short pieces to an online writing forum gave me a quick sense of achievement. I would learn from the members’ feedback, revise that particular story and apply my knew knowledge to the next story, post and repeat.
I didn’t really feel the need to attempt a novel. For one thing, I didn’t feel like I yet had a big enough idea for one. Instinctively, I felt as though I needed to learn my craft through shorter exercises. Even during my undergraduate degree at UEA, we never really focused on novel writing. It wasn’t until I started my MA in Creative Writing that we tackled the novel.
This is not to say that short stories should only be seen as practice for novel writing. Most certainly not. Short stories and novels are very different forms, and require different skills to master – mostly, the difference is in pace and plotting. However, other elements, such as characterisation, description, development of voice, understanding of narrative form, etc, are paramount in both formats.
Because of this, short story writing is a good place to start your writing journey. It allows you to practice all of the basic writing skills in a succinct way, and because short stories take less time and fewer words to complete, they allow you to explore and experiment at a greater intensity.
Writing a novel has its own distinct challenges, but by writing short stories first, a writer can learn many of the skills that will help them along the way. You don’t learn to write a novel by writing short stories. You learn to write a novel by writing a novel. But, if you’re new to writing, short stories are often a useful place to start.
What do you think?
‘How’s the novel going?’ – the dreaded words I’m faced with on a frequent basis. Those words conjure feelings of guilt and depression. Because I realise that since the last time I spoke to this person, the novel is very much not going. For many reasons. All of them flimsy, invalid.
The Novel is getting wild as it grows, and I’m not used to handling something so complex. My instinct is to tame it, yet I know that I must not – not yet, not while it is still growing. The daunting task of shaping it must come at the end of a full draft, and I struggle with this concept, so used to writing and re-writing as I go along. But this is a different kind of beast, and one that I am learning still.
I’m not sure that I’m writing story or back-story. I’m not sure if I’m writing notes or scenes. All this chaos is distracting me. I panic when I think of the bigger picture – the whole – instead of the smaller picture – each word, each small section. Because the small sections are what I should focus on, and reassure myself that once the small sections are created, the novel will more easily fall into place of its own accord.Read More»