Sunday, 25 July 2010

From Long Winded to Short Story

It wouldn’t be the first time that I’ve been called long winded – even when I tell a story socially I tend to expound, flourish and build. What may only have been a simple childhood event becomes a long and entertaining tale. Of course I feel most comfortable writing at least 60,000 words. As a journalist (my “other” job) I’ve often been limited to under 1,000 words for an article so I do know how to eliminate useless words – but that’s NOT creative fiction.

The difference between short story and novel is more than length, although there are acceptable and fairly standard word lengths as guidelines. Generally a short story (and this can vary by publication) is approximately 10-thousand words or less for magazines and up to 15-thousand words for anthologies. Novels (again, this varies by publisher) start at about 60-thousand words and go up from there.

Sometime back I forced myself to write a SHORT story; ironically I believe we need to stretch ourselves and do what we don’t normally do and my stretching was being short. (pu-lease, no height jokes here) To date I’ve got entries in four short story anthologies: Forever Friends, With Arms Wide Open, Nature’s Gifts and (coming soon) Passionate Hearts. In order to keep the tales short, I had to limit my normal tendency to go off on a tangent, I had to keep it simple while still presenting believable characters and an interesting story.

In my short story Not Alone which appeared in Mandimam Press' Forever Friends anthology, I told the story of two college age friends who were dealing with guilt and grief after losing one of their friends in a car accident. Told in first person narrative, the main conflict dealt with the speaker’s decision whether to stand by her friend who was being blamed for the accident. The story had one central conflict, two main characters, spanned just a few weeks in time, and was told in 2500 words.

A short story is not merely a condensed version of a novel. Short stories will often have one major plot, a limited number of characters and revolve around a concise period of time. Novels can have intricate sub-plots woven into the thread, a cast of characters that come and go throughout the book, and the time span can be up to several years. A short story is a segment of life, the novel can depict life.

My most recent short story The Vacation will be in Vanilla Heart Publishing’s Passionate Hearts which will be released later this year. This is a romantic story of a couple learning to trust and depend on each other – I’m very excited. (by the way, the publisher is still accepting submissions until Aug 17!)
In the meanwhile, my current work-in-progress is another novel length manuscript. I guess I just love to weave stories.

Please visit my website and my author's blog to keep up on the latest about my long and short stories. Thanks for stopping by!

~ Chelle


10 comments:

Lindsay Townsend said...

Hi Chelle!

Congratulations on the inclusion of your short story, THE VACATION in PASSIONATE HEARTS!

Thank you for explaining the differences between short stories and longer works so clearly and elegantly.

I envy those writers who can writers both shorts and longer - I tend to write long.

Celia Yeary said...

CHELLE--thanks for the tips, and I agree--as authors we need to stretch our aiblities and write something different. A comfort zone is good, but sometimes to become better, we need to step over the lines. Celia

Lorrie said...

I believe in cutting your teeth on short stories then moving on to longer works. Good article, Chelle, shorts teach you how not to ramble in a novel length story, and to cut out the boring parts.

Chelle Cordero said...

Thank you Lindsay, Celia & Lorrie for stopping by.

Thank you for the congrats, Lindsay. I tend to write long as well. LOL, even as a school kid I never had a problem filling an assignment page.

Celia, Little by little I try to attack each form of writing (genres, etc) - some efforts are really abysmal. They are all great learning exercises.

Lorrie, that's a good theory. As a journalist I am often told I have only a specific number of words and to make it fit - sometimes there seems to be so much more to say...

Savanna Kougar said...

Chelle, congrats on your short story success.

Segment of life... that's good!

Though, actually my novellas and novels are segments of life, too.

I will say that while I enjoy writing a short story and have one coming in a Halloween anthology... and I intend to write more short stories... I think the elegance and beauty of writing has been lost to a large degree in our 'condensed' society. And this goes for journalism, as well.

An economy of words is often the ticket... however, while a bikini is an economy of clothing and sexy in it's own right, Scarlett was beautiful and a temptress in her Old South gowns.

Chelle Cordero said...

Hi Savanna, I love the phrase "economy of words" and your analogy of bikinis and gowns.

In journalism the amount of space devoted to an article has been limited through the years as the papers/mags attempt to fill page space with paying advertisers - very frustrating.

Even book publishers frown on too long novels unless the author's name is a sure thing.

Thanks for stopping by.

LK Hunsaker said...

Chelle, congrats on your success in getting your stories into anthologies! I so agree that we need to keep our wings stretched. :-)

Chelle Cordero said...

Hi LK, thanks for stopping by.

By the way all, click on the link about Passionate Hearts - the publisher is reviewing submissions until Aug 17, short romantic love stories. Best of luck.

charmainegordon author said...

Hi Chelle, I read this post with great interest soaking up information like the sponge that I am. I've learned so much from you.
Happy to report that my first short story, "Take Me As I Am" will be in the Passionate Hearts anthology.
Thanks as always.
Charmaine

Chelle Cordero said...

Hi Charmaine! Thanks for checking in from your vacation spot, hope that you are enjoying.

Hey, everyone, Charmaine's story Take Me As I Am is really super!