AuthorsDen.com   Join (Free!) | Login  

     Popular! Books, Stories, Articles, Poetry
   Services MarketPlace (Free to post!)
Where Authors and Readers come together!

SIGNED BOOKS    AUTHORS    eBOOKS new!     BOOKS    STORIES    ARTICLES    POETRY    BLOGS    NEWS    EVENTS    VIDEOS    GOLD    SUCCESS    TESTIMONIALS

Featured Authors:  Blak Rayne, iFlorence Weinberg, iJoyce Scarbrough, iBob Meade, iCindy Ziperman, iAmy Sellers, iMel Hathorn, i

  Home > Literary Fiction > Articles Popular: Books, Stories, Articles, Poetry     

Lee Garrett

· Become a Fan
· Contact me
· Books
· Articles
· Poetry
· News
· Stories
· Messages
· 305 Titles
· 1,113 Reviews
· Save to My Library
· Share with Friends!
·
Member Since: Before 2003

Lee Garrett, click here to update your pages on AuthorsDen.




Featured Book
Above and Below
by Phyllis Jean Green

Themes range from poverty to the ephemeral beauty of a sun-dappled pond, settings from post-Katrina New Orleans, a freshman dorm at a Missouri college, a sleet-slick city..  
BookAds by Silver
Gold and Platinum Members


Featured Book
Eternal Recurrence ...a step out of time
by Tom Kitt

Eternal recurrence is the root of everything. It is the fountain of truth - the ultimate philosophy; a recurring event that contains the most beautiful promise of life co..  
BookAds by Silver
Gold and Platinum Members



   Recent articles by
Lee Garrett

Beating the How-Do-I-Begin Curse
Recipes For the Desperate
Be Your Own Worst Enemy--The Right Way
Breaking Weird Ground
The Way of Earth (excerpt)
The Lens of Perception
Suspension of Disbelief
The Journey
That Which Does Not Kill Us...
Profile of a Pro
Resonance In Writing
Letting Speculative Fiction Speculate
           >> View all

When is a short story not a short story?
By Lee Garrett   
Rated "G" by the Author.
Last edited: Thursday, October 25, 2007
Posted: Thursday, October 25, 2007

Share    Print   Save    Become a Fan


Many stories get submitted to my E-zine. Here is why many don't make the grade.

WRITER’S CORNER

            Lee Garrett

 

 

 

            Q: When is a short story NOT a short story?

 

            A: When it’s the beginning of a novel.




Simple answer.  Not so simple for the writer to see sometimes.  When a short story just won’t gel despite all we do, it’s time to take a hard look at it and see if what we have isn’t a novel trying to be born.  Sometimes, the recipe were trying to use is unsuited to a short treatment—were trying to make tuna salad using steak and eggs with a side of hash browns.  Or maybe chicken salad from spaghetti and garlic bread.

            Marie Antoinette lost her head over cake, but there’s no reason you have to suffer the wrath of an angry editor’s guillotine.


FISH OR FOWL,
WE SHOULD KNOW THE DIFFERENCE

AND COOK ACCORDINGLY.

 

So, you ask, what is the difference?

            Word count.  A short story is a SHORT story.  This means the concept needs to be simple.  Not complex.  It has to be developed and concluded with a “finished” feel within a certain range of words.  If, at the end of your piece, there are unresolved questions the readers are asking about what still could happen—it’s a clue that maybe you’re handling too large a concept for a short story.  Also, if you take twenty pages to tell something that should have been tellable in five,.it means you’re invested far more than a short story requires.  Maybe a novel is trying to bust free of chains in your mad scientist’s lair.

 

HAVING A LOTTA TIME TO COVER—IS ANOTHER SIGN.  You span large pieces of time by summarizing, frequent asterisk breaks, or line breaks.  Usually, short stories happen with in a short span of time.  If a long span of time is needed to work in events, this is another clue.  Sometimes, the story being told is too ambitious for a short treatment.  The way an army of zombies take over the world is a novel.  A life altering moment against the backdrop of zombies taking over the world is a short story.  When you have too much story, don’t cram it into a short story’s Jello mold.  Bake a three-tier wedding cake.  Marie Antoinette will be proud as she looks down from heaven, donut in hand. 


            TOO MANY PROBLEMS.  Does your work require constant flipping to more than one POV (Point of View)?  A short story is one character’s problem and its resolution.  The resolution is the climax, end of problem.  A novel has a major problem which is the central plot conflict, and numerous subplots—which are the character arcs of other characters.  These secondary arcs are subplots.  Subplots are the seasoning of novels, not short stories.  If the main character’s plot finishes but other arcs are incomplete stories waiting to be told, then, yes, it’s another clue that what you have isn’t a short story, but maybe the first chapter of a novel or novelette.  

 

Now, I’m not saying that what you’ve written isn’t good, even if it gets rejected for not being the order from the menu we placed.  What I’m saying, is what so many editors often have to tell writers: IT DOESN”T SUIT OUR NEEDS.  E-zines like ours, The Speculative Fiction Centre (specfiction.com), publishes short stories, not novels trying to be born, no matter how much promise lies in the DNA of the work.

            The FIX for youR need is simple IN CONCEPT,
            THOUGH DIFFICULT IN EXECUTION.


            Take your “short story” and shove it ... back into your brain and keep working.  Write the novel it wants to be and submit it as a novel to those markets that will give it a good home.  It’s either that or ruthlessly pairing off the excess plots and characters.  Amputate or expand.  The scalpel is in your gloved hand—your choice.  Choose wisely.

Web Site: leegarrett


Reader Reviews for "When is a short story not a short story?"


Want to review or comment on this article?
Click here to login!


Need a FREE Reader Membership?
Click here for your Membership!


Reviewed by Mary Quire 10/27/2007
Very informative. I struggle with this problem everyday, finding that a lot of my characters are just far too complicated to be put into a short story. Good work, Lee.
Reviewed by Malcolm Watts (Reader) 10/26/2007
Great piece. Thanks for sharing. Can I circulate this to our writing group? Malcolm Watts.

Books by
Lee Garrett



The Harvest of Souls

Buy Options
Kindle, Amazon, more..




The Others in #1 Deathscape

Buy Options
Amazon, Barnes & Noble, more..




The Awakening

Buy Options
Amazon, Barnes & Noble, more..






Brief Lives by Richard French

An almost-forgotten 19th century entertainer who performed magic tricks, wrote highly original songs, and got into grave trouble provides the subject for a play in the 1950's and l..  
Featured BookAds by Silver
Gold and Platinum Members


Emanations by Nickolaus Pacione

Featuring the Gothic Horror story Media Darling in an alternate edit from the original Pacione wrote in 2008.
..
 
Featured BookAds by Silver
Gold and Platinum Members

Authors alphabetically: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Featured Authors | New to AuthorsDen? | Add AuthorsDen to your Site
Share AD with your friends | Need Help? | About us


Problem with this page?   Report it to AuthorsDen
© AuthorsDen, Inc. All rights reserved.