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JT asks: (and other topics)

JT asked via Facebook:

As an author, do you consider the short-story to be a medium unique from novel, or is it just a short novel?

Different medium. Short stories are far less complex. Settings are simple, character choices and character POV choices are limited, plots are what would be a plot thread in a novel. On a nuts and bolts level, when you only have 7000 words to work with, it’s necessary to contemplate word choice in an effort to wring meaning from every word (which is certainly a weakness of mine). Novels alleviate that somewhat. Ideas can be bigger, worlds can be richer especially in the case of speculative fiction.  When reading Frank Herbert’s Dune, I never sat back and thought, “that’s a beautifully written passage,” but his ideas make it an amazing novel.  On the other hand, I’ll read some Ray Bradbury short stories and be blown away by the beauty of the language; not-so-much by the intricacy of the story.

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Black Gate » Blog Archive » Remember to Punch In: Writing “On-the-Clock”

The daunting, open-ended task of revising makes it too easy for me to back-off and spend less and less time re-writing. I start to slack off from a process that seems it will never end…

Yep. I’m achievement driven. In school, it was getting grades. Since I was good at school, I didn’t care too much about what grade I got though I’d get a little neurotic if I thought I was failing (I never was). It was getting that feedback–the grade–after doing the work that was the satisfying achievement. It is unfortunate that I’ve ended up in a profession where feedback is scarce. Rejections letters are a type of feedback. They mean, at best, that I’ve finished a work and I’ve sent it out. But they tell me nothing about the quality of my work. Agents and editors are understandably too busy to provide feedback to every author that submits work to them. But even on a micro scale, it’s a rough deal for the person that likes to know they’ve done something. Word counts are lovely. They are something quantifiable. But writing is 20% writing, 80% editing. And I have a tough time staying excited because editing isn’t quantifiable. I’ve tried time tracking, and it’s never really worked, probably because it’s slightly too complex. Maybe the more simple version of a timer will work better, with a weekly time goal.

Other reading:
Writer Beware Blogs!: Victoria Strauss — Writing Oddities: Shortstoryofthemonth.com
A List Apart: Articles: In Defense of Readers

Author:

Writer, publisher. Hobbies include reading, studying magic & illusions from a historical/theoretical perspective, and playing ultimate frisbee.

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