How do you know whether an idea is suitable for a novel or a short story?
I think the basic difference is in scope. In general, if you have a few characters, in a short period of time, with one or two settings and no more than one subplot to accompany your main story line, you are thinking in short story terms.
If I have two characters who look alike and talk alike but one is sweet and the other is nasty how do I keep them straight in reader’s minds?
You could have the sweet one talking nicely as she helps people and the sour one talking nicely as she acts destructively.
When I complete a short story where should I send it in hopes of publication?
Start with the top publications, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine and Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine. You might get published there. If not, you can send it elsewhere.
Do people confuse the main character with you personally?
My main characters tend to be brave, good-looking, adventurous, likeable and noble. So readers hardly ever mistake me for my characters.
How do you build a character?
I don’t really build them. I discover them. Usually I discover them in my mind, but I have been known to notice someone around me and think, “That person will be in a story some day.”
Do you use the same character in more than one short story?
I do. I know some writers who do not. I am sometimes surprised when a character I’ve used in the past shows up in my head to tell my about more of their adventures.
How long does it take to write a short story?
To quote a college professor I once took a class from, as long as the story requires.
From idea to first draft has been as short as a day or two and as long as five years.
Where can I find good ideas for a short story?
Read short stories to get a feeling for them. Don’t plagiarize. After that eavesdrop, read newspapers, watch the world around you and listen. You know the standard disclaimer…”any resemblance between the characters in this work and any person dead or alive is strictly coincidental?”
That’s a lie.