Don’t Let Anyone Fool You

It Really Is a Bird!

I’m still working on the short story I mentioned last week.  It’s taken a few interesting curves along the way…

Someone asked me recently which was easier: writing a short story or writing a novel.

Don’t let anyone fool you.  Writing a short story is shorter, so hopefully you’ll finish in a lot less time than you would if you wrote a novel.  However, having fewer words to work with doesn’t automatically make writing a short story easier.

In fact, in some ways, writing a short story can be harder because you have fewer words in which to make your setting and characters three-dimensional and interesting while still keeping your plot lively and engaging.

Writers of fiction set in the consensual reality we share have it a lot easier.  They don’t need to explain what a car or pickup or semi is…  Context helps a lot.  In the previous sentence, our shared consensual reality filled in that the pickup in question was a type of truck, not a type of social encounter, and that the “semi” was yet another, still larger, type of truck. 

Or, if you’re not up on your U.S. slang, maybe you were confused.

However, in a science fiction or fantasy short story, the writer must find a way to slip in what a “kubran” or “vikrew” is, hopefully somewhat gracefully or else resort to the dreaded (to me at least) infodump or “as you know, Bob” moment.  Even in novels, this can be a challenge.  In a short story, where every word counts against the limit, it’s even harder.

Sub-plots are often the best way to make characters three-dimensional but, in a short story, the writer has a lot fewer opportunities to work these in.  So, again, how to slip in little clues to relationships, especially relationships that aren’t easily defined by family relationship terminology or familiar hierarchical titles (whether those indicating rank, social status, or whatever), becomes another challenge.

Okay.  Any questions?

And I’ll go back to writing on my short story…  Catch you later!

4 Responses to “Don’t Let Anyone Fool You”

  1. Louis Robinson Says:

    Questions? of course we have questions!

    I’ll go with the easy one, not feeling too creative tonight: what kind of bird?

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