Friday, April 30, 2010
Sunday, April 25, 2010
Keeping focused on my current work-in-progress is always a challenge. Like every other writer, I am my own boss. I set the hours; plan the projects and my deadlines (mostly). I have a cast of characters clamoring to be freed. So?
Recently the distractions have piled up. I’m itching to be outside. The winter was long wet and cold. Thankfully, I finished the latest manuscript, titled Ancient Blood a follow-up to Ancient Awakening, and sent it off to my editor. Time to relax? I took a short trip to Pennsylvania. Lovely country to visit in the spring and I enjoyed talking to the local people, but it didn’t add any pages to my next work. I’m itching to get to writing again. Now my allergy to pine pollen is driving me crazy. I need a break from myself. I’m having company for dinner and I invited them. I cleaned the house. I even cleaned my desk top.
What’s my problem?
I have the opposite of writer’s block. I am complaining about a plethora of ideas. That’s really stupid. I take the time to write them as they percolate through my mind. I must have a dozen good starts. What to write, where to start, which plot line grabs me the strongest? I flipped a coin and started the next book in the Rhodes End series with something I dreamed. That seems to be my usual starting point.
Monday, April 19, 2010
A short story is very compact. The focus is on your hero and heroine (in a romance) and their relationship. There is little room for backstory, extensive worldbuilding, or subplots. But it is a good medium for beginners because you can hone your craft. Knowing your characters, whose point of view to use in a scene, even developing sexual tension takes practice and writing a short story is good practice.
Here are some tricks to help keep your story short:
Give your main characters a prior history – It’s easier to get their relationship going if your characters already have knowledge of each other. Reunion stories are popular.
Keep your minor characters low in number – You’ll be focusing on the main characters. Minor characters are needed but have too many and you’ll overwhelm the reader. I’d recommend no more than 20 (less for really short stories); although in a longer novella you can probably fit in a few more.
Use a single setting (maybe two) – You don’t want to use valuable words describing new cities/villages, homes, or terrains. A few specific details can ground your reader quickly in one spot. You can also focus more on your characters emotional growth if you’re not constantly adding new external experiences.
As with anything writing related, these are just suggestions. You can take what works for you and apply it, while ignoring all the rest.
While writing a short story may prove difficult, there are good reasons for beginning and established authors to create them. You can build credentials in magazine and epublishing markets. Readers enjoy free reads and presenting them with a short story a chapter a month could grow your following. Having a story in an anthology, particularly with a Best Selling Author, could showcase your work to a new reader base. Every little bit helps when trying to expand your readership.
Thursday, April 15, 2010
Your hero and heroine need to be well-rounded and fully developed, but it's not necessary to give a complete background history of them. Although you still need to know that information, there's no need to develop a full psychological profile into the story itself, just enough to indicate who this character is and why they behave and react the way they do.
Point of View
With the limited amount of words in a short story, shifting point of view for more than one or two characters is enough. Too many points of view become confusing to the reader. Primarily, readers want to see through the hero and heroine's eyes, and possibly the villian if necessary for the plot. Any other minor characters's viewpoint crowds a short story and potentially slows down the pace.
Describe your setting enough to give a taste of the location of your story. Many people have an idea what New York City looks like and maybe you want to add a specific building but the reader doesn't need to know the history of the architecture of the building unless it plays an important role. If the gargoyle towering over the heroine's apartment building doesn't shape shift into the hero, it's probably not necessary to include it in your story.
Beyond the main plot, you may be able to weave in a minor subplot or two. Any more than that will add too many complications for the characters to resolve. More complications equal more words. The major conflict of the story needs to be resolved by the end. Leave no loose ends.
When it comes to writing short stories, it's really about what works for the author. How deep do you want to delve into your character's lives and the situation you've put them in? How much time do you want to spend creating the world they live in? It's useful also to expand your own set of writing talents. If you prefer crafting novels, challenge yourself by writing something shorter. Same if you've never written something of longer length. You might discover something about your writing that you never knew.
Monday, April 12, 2010
Sunday, April 11, 2010
Saturday, April 10, 2010
So what are the differences between short stories and long ones? Let's start with the similarities.
1. They're both stories with a plot and characters.
2. They need character development.
3. Sentence structure has to make sense. Just b/c you have a short story doesn't mean you get to scrimp on the basics.
Moving on to some differences that make short stories stand out.
1. It helps in a romantic short story if the characters know each other, although this is not always necessary. This is b/c you don't have as long to write about them so the conflict needs to be up front. My shorts break this rule. :)
2. Use well known assumptions, like in my short story there is a ranch. Now we all either know about ranches, or think we know about ranches. But if the ranch was set on Pluto we'd have to describe much more about ranching on Pluto than we would if the ranch was in Texas. Which is fine in a longer novel, but might take too long to describe how it works in a short story. Now, I'm not saying that you can't have your ranch in your short story on Pluto, just saying it might take longer to describe.
3. Can't have many plots b/c you don't have time to explore them all.
There are plenty of examples outside of romance of short stories. For instance: Edgar Allen Poe; O'Henry; my favorite in high school was The Chaser by John Collier; and fables, or stories with morals. Here's a great morality story:
The teacher gave her 5th grade class an assignment: Get their parents to tell them a story with a moral at the end of it. The next day the kids came back and one by one started to tell their stories. The teacher was pretty bored until they came to Tony.
"Tony, do you have a story?"
"Yes, ma'am. My daddy told a story about my Aunt Karen. She was a pilot in Desert Storm and her plane got hit. She had to bail out over enemy territory and all she had was a flask of whiskey, a pistol and a survival knife. She drank the whiskey on the way down so the flask wouldn't break and then her parachute landed right in the middle of enemy troops. She shot fifteen of them with the gun until it ran out of bullets, killed four more with the knife until the blade broke and then she killed the last one with her bare hands."
"Good heavens!" said the horrified teacher. "What kind of moral did your daddy tell you from this horrible story?"
"Don't mess with Aunt Karen when she's been drinking."
Whichever kind of story you write, have fun with it!
Thursday, April 8, 2010
I received a wonderful email in my inbox this week. My super editor, Lill, (kiss, kiss, kiss), let me know Wild Rose has accepted my short story (as yet untitled). My full length novel "Human with a Twist" comes out in July.
So, back to the original question, long vs. short?
It was very different writing a short story compared to a full length novel; just as it's very different reading one.
As a writer: with a longer story you have more time to develop your characters and their relationship. In a short story you have to find a way of keeping everything believable, but do it in a much shorter space of time. I always think of short stories as stories in a pressure-cooker (up the intensity to finish quicker).
As a reader: One of the things I object to as a reader is that I always want more. My short story is set in the same world as my novel and features a woman from the original novel. Although the short story is completely stand-alone, it means if readers want more, there is more - and a full length novel at that, to help ease the itch for more :)
In my opinion Short stories are very good at two things:
1) giving you a full story if you don't have time to read a novel (e.g. on the bus)
2) giving you a feel for a writer you don't know. For instance at the end of last year I got hooked on Meljean Brooks after reading her short in "must Love Hellhounds".
Anyway, when my short is titled, and has a release date, I'll keep you all posted & I hope you'll give it a try :)
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Hello, do you like to write short stories or novels? Which do you prefer to read? Perhaps both. Even though the short story has fewer words, it’s not necessarily easier to write. There’s more of a difference between short and long tales than just the length. Consider the following:
Novels have multi-layered story arcs and plotlines to offer and the room to depict true change in their characters. On the other hand, short stories don’t have so much room. Characters might gain awareness though, if not growth.
Novels might explore several ideas; whereas short stories usually focus on one and drive toward a sudden understanding. They’re usually more pointed than novels.
Some short stories may follow the same pattern in terms of structure as a typical novel and some do not. Nowadays, they may skip having an exposition. Also, a reader might notice that many short stories end abruptly.
There are several important differences between short and long stories, and I won’t get into them all here, but one major difference is in character development. Novels give the writer more opportunity to delve deeper into the minds of the characters. Both have their pros and cons. Personally, I like the challenge of both.-Corinne M.
Sunday, April 4, 2010
The weather in North Carolina was beautiful this weekend so my youngest daughter (the twenty-year-old) and I spent a girls’ weekend at the beach with some friends. Daddies, husbands, and boyfriends were not allowed.
I took my lap top and a book but I didn’t get any writing done, and I barely cracked the spine on the book. But I had a wonderful time. We ate more than we should have, and I got way too much sun. I even learned something about myself as we were coming home.
I can let go and let my daughter drive on Interstate 40 without back-seat driving. But I have to put the seat back and close my eyes to do it.
Now, if only I can master letting go of some of my other control issues so I can relax and get some writing done this spring!
Friday, April 2, 2010
Happy Easter To All MY PEEPS!!!!
All I need to know
I learned from the Easter Bunny!
Don't put all your eggs in one basket.
Everyone needs a friend who is all ears.
There's no such thing as too much candy.
All work and no play can make you a basket case.
A cute tail attracts a lot of attention.
Everyone is entitled to a bad hare day.
Let happy thoughts multiply like rabbits.
Some body parts should be floppy.
Keep your paws off of other people's jelly beans.
Good things come in small, sugar coated packages.
The grass is always greener in someone else's basket.
To show your true colors, you have to come out of the shell.
The best things in life are still sweet and gooey