Novels vs Short Stories


During my time as a part of the writing community, I’ve noticed that there’s one question that tends to pop up over and over again- novels or short stories? The problem is, I never really know how to answer it. Both forms have their advantages and disadvantages… so why is it always expected that you should have a clear cut opinion?

So, I’m going to discuss the pros and cons of each. Let me know what you think in the comments!

  • Short stories are much faster to write than novels. Whereas it usually takes at least a month to get a very, very rough draft for a novel, not to mention all the editing time, you can usually finish a short story rough draft in a couple of days- less if you really put your mind to it.
  • Because short stories are, well, shorter, it’s easier to hold the reader’s attention. Reading a novel is a commitment, while short stories can usually be read in under a half hour.
  • Short stories can let you explore a world and characters without fully committing to a hundred thousand word novel. Sometimes it’s nice to test your interest by writing a short story set in the world that you’re planning to write a novel in. You can just play around with characters, or figure out the background of the characters, or write a much more stripped down version of the plot.
  • Short stories will teach you to skip the exposition and get to the point. It’s a widely known fact among writers- exposition is boring. So if you tend to ramble in your novels, try giving yourself and a word limit of maybe a couple thousand words. The limited length will teach you how to just write the important parts.
  • Novels usually achieve more popularity and success than short stories. So, if you want to make a career out of reading, you should probably focus on novels. Short stories can sometimes be sold to magazines and anthologies and such, but it’s much easier to sell a novel.
  • Novels allow for more complexity. Short stories usually include really minimal character development, and very rarely are you able to fit in a subplot (let alone two or three).
  • Novels also let you include a lot more exposition, which I suppose ties in with the point on added complexity. If you have a complicated fantasy world with a very detailed magic system, for example, then it would probably be better to write a novel. In short stories, it’s very important to get to the point quickly and succinctly.

Do you prefer novels or short stories- or are you like me, and can’t decide between the two? Let me know in the comments!

 

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3 thoughts on “Novels vs Short Stories

  1. Pingback: Monthly Wrap Up: July 2015 | Stay and Watch the Stars

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