December 26, 2010

WRITING ADVICE: Mike Duran #2 – Ten Ways Writing Short Stories Can Benefit Aspiring Novelists

I have never seen Mike Duran. We “met” online a couple years ago because of a little…altercation I caused by saying something less-than-nice about Christian speculative fiction on his blog. Mike, being both a spec-fic writer and editor, won me closer to his side with gentle and wise words. Since then I’ve found that Mike has lots of gentle and wise words. I’m looking at how some of them have had an impact on my own writing in these WRITING ADVICE posts. (Quotes are used with his permission.) He also participates in “ONE OF WRITER'S DIGEST 101 MOST VALUABLE WEBSITES FOR WRITERS, 2008 & 2010”, NOVEL JOURNEY at Check him out, he really is THAT good!

I agree with Mike and all those who commented on this one. In fact, despite the statement that there seems to be a controversy/discussion about whether or not “A novelist should write NOVELS!”, there wasn’t any controversy here. David Brin might argue the point – his first publication was the novel SUNDIVER and though he has written stories since and now writes short essays for a living, he started his career with full-blown novels.

On the other hand, I have seen specfic writers who have never left short stories even though they tried. Their novels, when they produced them, were either collections of a series of short stories that filled a story arc (David R. Palmer’s EMERGENCE comes to mind) or their novel wasn’t as strong as their short fiction (Jeffrey D. Kooistra’s DYKSTRA’S WAR) while others never wrote a novel and seem to have spent their career in short stories (Michael Burstein is the author I think of here).

To add to this chorus of agreement, I add my own two cents:

First Cent) Jesus never spoke in novels. He spoke in parables (short stories with a moral point). He spoke in parables on purpose, because most people of his time didn’t read; if they did read, they read Scripture or proclamations. Besides, they just didn’t have time for anything longer! (Does this sound like a people you’re familiar with?)

Second Cent) God wrote in short stories as well. The Bible is a series of 66 “books”, though by today’s definition, The Book of Jonah could be considered FLASH fiction at 1276 words (New American Standard Bible © 1960-1995 The Lockman Foundation). Later monks went further still, breaking down the narrative into little, teeny verses (for easier reference, I’m sure, but it STILL makes it easier in my head to stop after reading Jonah 1…)

I COULD say, “If short stories are good enough for God and Jesus, they’re good enough for me!”

But I won’t say that. I’ll simply agree with Mike Duran (and the other commentators) and add my two cents above. BTW – no matter how good short stories are, I am STILL trying to market all of my novels because novels, more correctly the royalties paid on novels, are how writers can financially survive.

Though once a novel is written and published, it makes it far more difficult for an author to break out of the mold and write something “new”. I know of at least one author who has changed their name to get away from a “fantasy branding” issue in order to get back to their first love, science fiction. I know at least one who wrote novels – both critically acclaimed, award-winning and genre bending as well as the “wrong” novelization. That author has been unable and/or unwilling to get out from under that cloud of expectation to a) please write ANOTHER ONE like… b) oh no, you’ll just write ANOTHER ONE like…

Link to the original article here:


No comments: