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Our September Author Interviews--9/6 Kathleen Valenti, 9/13 David Burnsworth, 9/20 Jeri Westerson, 9/27 Frances Brody. Please join us in welcoming these authors to WWK.

September Saturday Guest Bloggers: 9/2--Anne Bannon, 9/9 WWK Bloggers, 9/16 Margaret S. Hamilton, 9/23 Kait Carson, and on 9/30 Trixie Stiletto.


“May 16, 2017 – The Women’s Fiction Writers Association (WFWA) today announced the finalists of the second annual Star Award, given to authors of published women’s fiction. Six finalists were chosen in two categories, General and Outstanding Debut. The winners of the Star Award will be announced at the WFWA Retreat in Albuquerque, New Mexico on September 23, 2017.” In the general category, WWK’s Carla Damron was one of three finalist for her novel, The Stone Necklace. Go to Carladamron.com for more information. Congratulations, Carla!

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Warren Bull's new Lincoln mystery, Abraham Lincoln In Court & Campaign has been released. Look for the Kindle version on February 3.

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published. Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th.

In addition, our prolific KM will have the following shorts published as well: "Sight Unseen" in Fish Out of Water, Guppie (SinC) anthology, just released, and "Making Tracks" in Passport to Murder, Bouchercon anthology, October 2017.

Margaret S. Hamilton's short story, "Once a Kappa" was published as a finalist in the Southern Writer's Magazine annual short story contest issue. Mysterical-E published her "Double Crust Corpse" in the Fall 2016 issue. "Baby Killer" will appear in the 2017 solar eclipse anthology Day of the Dark to be published this summer prior to the eclipse in August.

James M. Jackson's 4th book in the Seamus McCree series, Doubtful Relations, is now available. His novella "Low Tide at Tybee" appears February 7 as part of Lowcountry Crimes: Four Novellas, which is available for order.
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Monday, September 3, 2012

Short Story or Novel


For the past few months, I’ve contemplated an idea for a short story. But now I’m not sure if it’s a short story or a novel. After changing my victim, my killer and then my plot, I started dithering about its length, whether or not I could do justice to the story via the short story format. But then, without doing enormous amounts of research, how can I know if I have enough material for a novel? In changing the plot, I increased the tension and outrage the reader would feel. Not that that factor required changing the length, but the mitigating factor now pivotal to the plot is a legal concept of international concern. In short, when I changed the plot the scope of the short may have expanded enough to warrant a novel length story. 

At its core, it’s still the same story only more complex. The setting is the same and the relationships are the same. The background is real within the historical context. I’ve never written historical. Can I write historical even if the story is set in the 1970s, the era of my college years? But I still must do a lot of research because if I turn it into a novel, everything that I intended to write in the short story version would be detailed and expanded. More secondary characters must be developed and, at this point, I’m not sure what their function would be in the story.

Research is essential because I’m fallible and I’m not omniscient. I need to go beyond my own POV not only because of my four characters, but also because of the era’s politics, which play a role in the plot and character development of one of the characters. But then again, I don’t want to overplay the politics because although it is a factor, it’s only one factor. Unfortunately, I’ve been known to do too much research. As little research as I’ve done, I find myself going down memory lane to the social events and names of the era.

And yet I know that research doesn’t make the story. Sometimes it detracts from the story. I have enough details to make the short story interesting, but with more research increasing the details would the story hold up if lengthened?

How do you decide whether the story is a short or a novel? 

 

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

I've turned a short into a novel twice so far and working on a third. The way I decide is if I like the short and the characters. That's pretty well it. Of course, there's always a point at which I say, "This is impossible. I should have left it as a short. But then I come up with a solution to fix the problem.

E. B. Davis said...

Thanks for letting me know. I do like my plot and characters--did you publish the short first, then expand it to a novel? If so, did it bother publishers that the short could have spoiled the novel?

Pauline Alldred said...

Several authors write shorts from their novels. I think much depends on whether you'll stay interested in the main characters through several reviews. Also, although research shouldn't be ignored, the 1970's isn't that long ago in historical terms. Readers or their parents could have lived through that decade. The details that you remember and the flavor of the decade would add the most interest and depth.

E. B. Davis said...

Yes! I think a lot of readers would remember that era. One of my friends that read the short said it took her back and as she read, she remembered all the streets and venues that I mentioned. I've never written historical before, and I enjoyed it--perhaps going overboard on historic details. It was fun, although it took much more time. They say, write what you know--been there, done that!

Warren Bull said...

Your concept sounds like it would support a novel. Complexity usually does not work well in short stories. You could try it as a short story first and see how it works, but if you want more depth, you need more length.

James Montgomery Jackson said...

I'm with Warren. Complexity is the key: too much of it and you end up with a muddled story that probably belongs as a novella or novel.

Not enough and you have a boring longer work with a dragging middle.

Good luck on your decision.

~ Jim

E. B. Davis said...

The present story is set in 1975-79, but if I made it into a novel, I'd have a 2012 story that parallels the historic one. Since my main character has knowledge and experience based on the old plot, it furthers her investigation of the present day plot. Sound like a plan?

E. B. Davis said...

Although I asked our anonymous guest about publishing the short story, what do the rest of you think? Will publishing the short spoil the novel?

Gloria Alden said...


It sounds like you have enough of a plot to support a novel. One of the problems with short stories is you don't have enough room to develop the characters and plot satisfactorily, in my opinion, and I write both. I like the idea of a parallel 2012 story. It should keep the interest going. If you did that, I don't see why you couldn't publish the short story - either from the earlier era or the 2012 time.

E. B. Davis said...

Thanks, Gloria. I think it may work. I'll give it a go!