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Novel Vs. Short Story

Posted: March 16th, 2012, 2:43 pm
by guichizango
I have a question that might or night not have already been answered. I just found out about the writing contest in Writer's Digest, but their fiction areas have a word limit of up to 4000 words. I've really only written novels, but I would like to challenge myself further. I want to try, but I'm worried about the difference of writing short stories vs. novels. Do short stories actually have climaxes, etc or are they just a snippet of a person's life? Other than word count, what separates a short story from a novel?

Re: Novel Vs. Short Story

Posted: March 16th, 2012, 3:07 pm
by dios4vida
A good short story should have all of the excitement of a novel squashed down to a few thousand words. That does include climaxes and plot points and character arcs.

I'd love to give you more advice, but I'm not a short story writer. I talk way too much to write short stories. :) I know tons of folks around here do shorts, though, so hopefully you'll be able to get some more helpful advice than this.

Good luck!!

Re: Novel Vs. Short Story

Posted: March 16th, 2012, 4:55 pm
by polymath
An appreciable difference between short stories and novels revolves around character and setting and plot scope. Short stories limit persons and settings (times, places, and situations) and complications (plot). Novels expand persons and settings and complications. More characters, larger complications, greater setting scope, longer narrative.

From a readers' perspective, an average short story can be read in about half an hour, which is actually the average amount of time for an average reader to read 4,000 words, thus the reason for that publication limit, about as long as a reader might have for a work meal break. A 100,000 word novel takes the same readers about eleven hours. The average novel reading in one sitting time is four hours.

Many of the short stories in progress I read for evaluation purposes tend to justify longer works and vice versa for longer works.