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!