A Novel Disparity: Setting Myself Up for Failure?

I’ve noticed something lately. When I sit down to work on my novel, I approach it in a straightforward manner. Plot a scene, write it, make notes. The story is linear and falls within a rather traditional science fiction vein.

Then there’s my short stories, which are free-flowing and often resemble prose poetry. They deal with fantastic creatures and death and morbid worldly topics set in otherworldly locations.

There’s a disparity between the two, the long form and the short form.

For those of you more experienced in this than I, will this hurt me? Is this a detriment to my writing career right out of the gate? Though I love the free verse feel of my short stories, I’m not sure if I could utilize that for a novel length work.

How do your novels and short stories compare? Vastly different or one in the same? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

3 thoughts on “A Novel Disparity: Setting Myself Up for Failure?

  1. Since I don’t really write short stories, I can’t really compare. I often come up with strange and morbid ideas (like you), but I find a way to utilize them in my novel. But in moderation in case the readers get weirded out. My novel usually has a few fantastical, otherworldly elements but the rest is more or less familiar to the readers (..i.e. the coming of age story, the love story, the protagonist’s relationship with friends, family). I like to give them something familiar in which to anchor themselves before I introduce elements of the fantastic. In novel form, my personal rule of thumb is ‘story first, prose serves as storytelling device.’ My prose is very simple. Sometimes (especially during descriptive sections), I tend to get lyrical, but I have to remind myself to simplify during edits since I strive to write genre novels for YA.

    I think short stories as a medium lends itself better to free form and lyrical/literary prose. You can get away with it in the short form. It may be exhausting, however, for several hundred pages. And perhaps people who read short stories in general are those who pay attention to prose?

  2. Use your short stories to experiment!

    Touching on what T.Y. mentioned… perhaps you naturally prefer a more literary prose for short fiction than you do for novel-length fiction. It’s not bad, it’s just different. And if your novels are *supposed* to be genre (and not literary), no harm/no foul, just different markets.

  3. I have found that my shorts are very similar to my novel in style and form. In fact, most of my shorts could be developed into ‘the rest of the story’ as a novel. That doesn’t mean your way of doing things is setting you up for failure, though. I’d never considered how the two might be different, but maybe other writers who have been doing both for longer will post comments. I’m interested in this, too.

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