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DRAGONMOUNT

A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY

Short vs. Long Stories


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Hi! So, I'm starting my novice reqs, and the first ajah I chose is Brown. (Predictable? Maybe. But that's alright.) And I wanted to have some interesting discussions about reading with y'all, and maybe writing? Because a lot of readers write too, I've found. So I wanted to make a thread talking about short stories and how they differ from longer forms -- obviously not just in length, but in structure and feel, and possibly authorial intent.

 

I think a lot of short stories tend to be faster-paced, and have fewer lulls in plot development just because the author needs to get to the point faster. If a short story were graphed (the x-axis being pages written and the y-axis being plot development), it would be a linear equation with a pretty steep slope -- whereas, if a longer piece were graphed, it'd have sections that were shallower and sections that were steeper. So, I guess what I'm saying is that the biggest structure difference is probably pacing. In the hands of a bad author, this might make it feel rushed, but a good author can just make it thrilling the whole way through. Of course, a novel can also feel too slow when written by a bad author, but seem to have very purposeful pacing when written by a good one.

 

Another thing to consider is subplots -- as in, short stories, which need to be lean, mean, reading machines (does that phrase make any sense? no, it absolutely does not) have fewer, whereas the longer a novel is, the more complex and intertwining its plot threads are expected to be. Again, the feel of this definitely depends on the author: in the hands of a bad author, a short story will feel shallow, where a good author would just make it feel efficient. And a bad writer's long novel might feel confusing and overly intricate while a good author would make such a plot feel purposeful and important, even if it isn't *cough cough Morgase cough cough*.

 

As for authorial intent, I mostly want to say this: I think a lot of authors choose whether to write a short story or a novel based on the complexity of their plot, or maybe choose their plot based on if they want to write a short story or a novel. For example, no one has really done a Sleeping Beauty retelling because the story is somewhat simplistic. (Although, on an unrelated note, I personally have thought of trying my hand at it because it's my favorite fairy tale.) I don't have much more to say on the topic, honestly.

 

Thoughts? What do you guys think about when you're considering short stories vs. novels, and if you're writers, do you have different processes for them?

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Well on a personal level I tend to stay away from short form stories because of my own personal preference.

 

I feel like short stories are all about the plot, about making a specific point (in comparison to themes in longer form literature.) I feel that this is to the detriment of other parts of the story that I personally enjoy more.

 

I cannot get enough of characteristion and character arcs and relationships. I feel like this can only truly be explored in longer fiction. 

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I agree with you on that, blank; that's why I read short stories almost exclusively from ongoing series (Edgedancer, for example). That way, I already know and love the character and can focus on the fun plot.

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i tend to be solidly in the  long story camp, there's just more you can sink your teeth into, a story you can curl up with. like right now i'm reading a collection of short stories, and while entertaining i find it hard to be invested in the collection

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On 11/8/2020 at 7:45 PM, blank said:

Well on a personal level I tend to stay away from short form stories because of my own personal preference.

 

I feel like short stories are all about the plot, about making a specific point (in comparison to themes in longer form literature.) I feel that this is to the detriment of other parts of the story that I personally enjoy more.

 

I cannot get enough of characteristion and character arcs and relationships. I feel like this can only truly be explored in longer fiction. 

 

I could not say it better.

 

The characters become my friends and family, and I want to "interact" with them for a long time. There are obviously absolutely brilliant short pieces which even stick in ones mind forever*, but on the whole I give them a miss.

 

* ‘Baby clothes for sale, never worn.’ (Hemingway)

 

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Yiisss, I love it when people agree with me haha

 

Oh yeah, I've seen a few of those competitions where people try and compete to tell the saddest/scariest story in lowest amount of words and that Hemingway quote is always there!

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