I’ve never really cared about how long I wrote my stories, although I always had ever intention of writing novels. I like the idea of complex plots and I wanted to write them.
My first novel turned out to be a little too complicated at about 300 pages. My second one came out to be a much better length, closer to 160 pages. (about 90,000 words). Then, I got stuck and I can’t think up any more novel plots, probably due to college’s heavy load.
Instead, I began writing shorter stories. My first story (Giant’s Wife) came out to be about 40 pages. A bit too long for much of anything. The second one was When Darkness Swallows, at about 25 pages, as have my next two. (Both Time of Dragon Slayers and Miles’ Love.) Which is about 10,000 to 15,000 words, short enough for a short story by some people’s standards.
But I’m not writing short stories. Not really.
See, I”m so used to being able to have a couple scenes to clean up everything. It’s the idea that I need to resolve all of my story lines and questions. When I wrote my novels, I gave myself two or three sections to finish everything up.
I can’t do that in short stories.
Short stories really need to have, at most, one scene to tie everything together. And not a long scene at that. We can’t have much with short stories to resolve, because short stories are meant to have only one plot line anyway.
That is the problem I’m having with my short stories. In When Darkness Swallows, I have the climax when he rescues Emin and then force the reader to read three more sections about what happens to the reader. In Miles’ Love, I was going to do the exact same thing, until I realized that this shouldn’t be the situation, so I changed it up.
How did I realize this? I looked at my other story that came out really well, Time of the Dragon Slayers. In that, I have the climax, even more of a climax, and then resolve everything in two pages. Tada! All solved. (Well, not everything. There are so many spin-off stories I can do that I probably won’t do, but it solved the main plot.)
So here is basically what I think a short story should be outlined (roughy)
A) A couple scenes that involve building the scenario, learning the characters, ect.
B) The climax, in one or two scenes.
C) ONE resolution scene.
Now, for a novel, there is a totally different formula that I will not go into today. Maybe someday, but not today. And hopefully with this realization, I can make my stories better too.
Just a reminder too. Question of the Week answer is due by Saturday night.