Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

What I had to learn about writing novels (after lots of short stories)

Posted by Rampant Coyote on August 17, 2018

We’re wrapping up edits on the second Blood Creek novel (Blood Creek Beast!) and I’m currently writing the third. I’m very excited about how Blood Creek Witch is doing, especially now that it’s an audiobook. Of course, I could always use 100x the visibility it currently has, but I’m pretty pleased with how this has all turned out. And I’m still writing and submitting short stories.

I learned a lot by focusing on short stories. I think I made and corrected a lot of mistakes much faster that way. The skills required for writing novels (especially a novel series) and short stories are not identical. But after focusing on shorts for a while, I was able to come back to longer-form writing without throwing my hands up in frustration five chapters in. However, I had some new lessons to learn. Or old lessons to re-learn.

After writing lots of little stories mostly between 4K and 8K words in length, having more than 10x as much word count to work with seemed like an incredible luxury. It’s not. A novel has to accomplish a lot more than a short story, and that word count can fill up fast trying to keep all the plates spinning until the big crescendo at the end. Especially with multiple points-of-view, there’s not much room to spare. At least not in the pulp style I embrace.

Fortunately, one of the skills I picked up from writing shorter fiction does carry over to novel-writing, and that’s keeping the prose tight. It may take me years to master this skill, but it’s just as handy writing a novel as writing a short story. My scene sizes tend to be about the same in either form, too. Considering how action-packed larger novels by the likes of people like Larry Correia are, I assume that I’d fight just as hard to stuff a larger story into two or three times larger space, too. Ultimately, the medium has to be right (and the right fit) for the story, and no matter what, it’s a fight to make every word count.


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