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Old 02-26-2014, 09:08 PM   #1
Katsunami
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Writing short stories

Some time ago, I finally started writing a bit, after having some sort of story in mind for quite some time. There are some problems:

- I'm now finding that I'm not up to the task (yet) to enlarge that story into a full-length novel. It feels as if I'm trying to pad the story to make it long enough to be a book.
- I have quite some scenes thought or written out, but they are not connected, and I don't have any way (yet) to connect them without again feeling that I'm padding the story.
- I don't have a world to write in (yet), and I don't feel like creating that world all at once.
- I don't have the time or commitment (yet) to write such a work.

So, summarized, I have this:
- Scenes, but disconnected.
- Parts of a world.
- Not enough experience to connect stuff into a large story.
- Not enough time to write a large story.
- I just want to have "something" finished earlier.

What I'm thinking about is:

Should I pick some of the scenes I have already written/sketched out, and make them into short stories, setting them in different parts of the same world, and maybe even set them in different time frames? They could hint at events that have happened, are happening, or could be happening, and they could allude to far-away locations, legends and myths. Then I'd be able to write stories about those events, locations, legends and myths, building the world more.

At some point, I'd have a bunch of stories, characters, locations, legends/myths/folklore, all growing into a world, with some kind of backstory already in place, which would make it easier (I think) writing a novella/novel-length story, using all o that material.

In short: instead of trying to plan a novel, just start out writing short stories and letting the world grow all by itself, to create a place for the novel to live in, eventually.

What do you think?

Last edited by Katsunami; 02-26-2014 at 09:13 PM.
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Old 02-27-2014, 12:49 AM   #2
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For whatever reason, I seem to have a short story focus. When ideas come to me they just seem to be "short story" material. I'm happy to write them as short stories.

If your ideas are, or can be, self-contained short stories, I'd go that route. One way or the other, you'll benefit from writing -- and completing -- some works. If they align into a series of short stories, great. There are plenty of really good short story series out there. If the practice and confidence you gain from writing stories gives birth to a novel -- well, that's great, too.

Although I do think that there's a difference between a complete short story and an episode in a novel.
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Old 02-27-2014, 06:35 AM   #3
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I think it's an excellent idea to try and write a series of short stories, all connected through the same world.
I write short stories when I need a break from my full-length books, but they're usually set in the same world and feature characters from the book series. It's a great way to get ideas not fit for novels out of the way, and it gives you a chance to explore characters in a different way than in a longer story where the flow runs differently.
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Old 02-27-2014, 06:50 AM   #4
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You may wish to check out Fredric Brown's short story, "The Greatest Poem Ever Written."

I don't know if it's available in an ebook or not. I read it some time ago in a tattered paperback.

There may be some relevance there to your dilemma.....
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Old 02-27-2014, 07:15 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Katsunami View Post
In short: instead of trying to plan a novel, just start out writing short stories and letting the world grow all by itself, to create a place for the novel to live in, eventually.
That's exactly what I'm up to today.

I've got an interesting setting, but no plot that stands out. So I'm doing various character sketches to see what emerges.

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Old 02-27-2014, 09:33 AM   #6
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Thanks for your thoughts. The biggest problem I seem to have is not to create scenes, but to connect those scenes into one coherent story, without me feeling that I'm just trying to make the story longer.

The second biggest problem is that I often get to a point where I'm thinking:

"I need this character to go to... <a city>... to meet <some character> in an inn called <something>..."

Then I have to think up names, before I feel that the story can continue. When writing short stories, placing them all about the world, I can focus on one main character that visits a few places, and have the world build itself.

For example, I can have Katharina visit the Faerie Lake in one story, have something happen to her and then make her flee to a village called Crossroad Point. This village can be 5 miles away of the Faerie Lake. In another story, I can have Moredhel fall into the River of Dread to be washed ashore, close to the Haunted Keep.

At these points in time, there doesn't have to be a connection between Katharina and Moredhel. The stories don't even need to be in the same timeframe; if no time frame is stated, they could actually be shifted back and forth, or become situated hundreds of years apart on the timeline, depending on references made in other stories.

The same is true for the locations; when writing these short stories, I don't have to define the length of the River of Dread, or how it runs, and I don't need to define how far Crossing Point is from the Haunted Keep.

In later stories, all the locations could be connected up, and, if situated within the same time frame (or if the character is immortal/has a very long life span), characters from different stories could actually meet. Even later, all the short stories might become prequels to a novel, in which one or more of the characters return.

If done right, one would also be able to read the novel first, in which the characters make references to short stories (already written or not), so, if there is a story about the referenced event, a reader could find out more about the histories of the characters by reading these stories after the novel.

This way, the world would grow organically, as opposed to being completely designed from the get-go. Maybe this is a much better plan than doing a systematic world design, because it allows me to just "write something", using a general idea, and see where it ends.

(Yeah, right. I suck a name such as Moredhel out of my thumb, and who used it before? Raymond E. Feist. @DamnYouFeist. It seems I even didn't read ENOUGH Fantasy yet, or I would have known.)

Last edited by Katsunami; 02-27-2014 at 09:41 AM.
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Old 02-27-2014, 09:39 AM   #7
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That's how Bradbury's "Martian Chronicles" came to be. He wrote a bunch of short pieces and found that he'd in essence written a novel length manuscript in the end.
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Old 02-27-2014, 09:45 AM   #8
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That's how Bradbury's "Martian Chronicles" came to be. He wrote a bunch of short pieces and found that he'd in essence written a novel length manuscript in the end.
That could indeed also happen of course, but the scenes I have in mind are so disconnected, that I'm not seeing a way to actually connect them up in the same story.

Terry Brooks started doing this with Shannara, 10 years ago, by the way. He started picking out characters (Allanon, The Weapons Master, Panamon Creel, Jair Ohmsford), and wrote short stories and a graphics novel.

The Quest of Allanon is a tiny prequel to The Sword of Shannara, for example, where The Black Irix is sort of an epilogue or "what happened after, to Panamon Creel" to the same book.

I think it would be nice to have characters in a novel that can refer to their own history, and then have that history written out already, at least partly.
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Old 02-27-2014, 01:14 PM   #9
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Quote:
The second biggest problem is that I often get to a point where I'm thinking:

"I need this character to go to... <a city>... to meet <some character> in an inn called <something>..."

Then I have to think up names, before I feel that the story can continue.
One trick that Piers Anthony mentions in an article that I read (as part of a book he wrote) was the use of [ ]'s. He suggested that when you come to a point where you need to name something, etc. just put it in [ ]'s and go back to it later.
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Old 02-27-2014, 01:16 PM   #10
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Nothing breeds success like success. Stop worrying so much and start writing. Pick any one scene and write it. If its 100000000000000000 words or 1000 when your done does not matter as much as just writing something.
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Old 02-27-2014, 06:21 PM   #11
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What Vincent said.

Write stories. Don't worry if they fit together or not, just worry about making them the best stories you can. If you write enough, you'll probably come to a novel-length idea and then you can write that.

The stories can be just as good whether they're connected or not.
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Old 02-27-2014, 06:38 PM   #12
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...when your done does not matter as much as just writing something.
That's the point... I've written quite a bit actually, but it's all disconnected.

Some passages could be plopped down into any fantasy book with a name change here or there

I don't know if that's good or not

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What Vincent said.

Write stories. Don't worry if they fit together or not, just worry about making them the best stories you can. If you write enough, you'll probably come to a novel-length idea and then you can write that.

The stories can be just as good whether they're connected or not.
Grrrr. Yes, maybe so. I've been writing a short story, based on soem of the passages I wrote earlier, intending it to be a story on it's own, but also some sort of introduction / mini-prequel to a longer story later on.

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Old 02-27-2014, 06:57 PM   #13
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Then start with an anthology. They don't need to be connected if they are released as a collection of shorts.
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Old 02-27-2014, 11:21 PM   #14
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Then start with an anthology. They don't need to be connected if they are released as a collection of shorts.
+1 to that, and please, if someone comes with an anthology and is looking for a few contributors I'd be happy to add my 2 cents there.

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Old 03-01-2014, 01:08 PM   #15
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Even when I'm writing a book, I start with a single scene before I outline the manuscript. I do that to get a feeling of the story, to see if the characters will talk to me. I often have several scenes finished before I get serious about the book.
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