Weekly Roundup – Novel vs. Short Story: What’s the Difference?

Weekly Roundup is an update on what’s going on in my world. Welcome!

For a reader, the most obvious difference between a novel and short story is the number of words. For a writer, it’s so much more!

Since I started writing seriously in 2015, the desire and opportunity to craft a short story have been curiously absent. My novels have kept me inordinately busy and it took me a while to recognize the need for short story material. Mix in my fear of failure and you have a wonderful recipe for procrastination.

What’s so scary about writing a short story?

  • I’d never intentionally tried before and couldn’t face the music of failure.
  • Which idea out of a hundred would I start with?
  • Where would I find the time?
  • What if it morphed into a novel?
  • What would I DO with it if successful?

Perhaps my fears seem silly, but they were/are quite real and prevented me from trying – until now. Yes, you heard me correctly. I am smack dab in the middle of writing a terrific short story and am cautiously confident of success! Why the change?

During the interim between my recent release and starting the next book in the series, a great story idea presented itself. As usual, I wrote it all down, intending to pursue it some day when I had the time. Trouble is, I couldn’t let it go and decided to take a short detour to test drive a short story project. If it turned out to be a miserable failure, no one would ever know and I would continue on with my novels as before.

After three false starts I almost gave up! Book three in my series was clamoring to be written, leaving me little time to waste for this experiment. Finally, things fell into place and I began to figure out the other things (besides word count) which made a short story different from a novel. The process is something like writing a three hundred word jacket blurb for a hundred thousand word book. It ain’t easy folks! Gone is the leisurely description of back story, character history, and general background material.

With a short story every word and sentence counts. The extraneous must be whittled down to the essential, leaving little descriptive elbow room – not quite bare bones but awfully close! It’s all about finding the balance between what the reader MUST know and what I really want to tell them (which is so much more). At the forefront of my thinking is the goal of telling the entire story in 7500 words or less without the reader feeling they’ve been cheated.

As of today, I’m about half done with a fantasy tale involving a kingdom at risk, very cool dragons, and a curious child. Once it’s finished and edited, I will be sending the story to some select beta readers for feedback. The plan is to release it as a mini-serial here on my blog, so you will be the first to see it! Depending on reader response, it may become the prequel for a future novel. More important, success with this project assures me I really can write short stories and move ahead with some exciting plans later this year.

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Last week I ran a FREE promotion for Traitor’s Moon and had over 3300 downloads. On Sunday, the book reached the #1 spot in three categories and #49 in the top one hundred free eBooks! Now, if I could just make a little money and get a good number of those folks to write a review…

Author: Alexander Elliott

Alexander Elliott lives in the upper Midwest and is the author of multiple books in science fiction, fantasy, paranormal, and romance. His work is replete with themes of love, passion, family, humor, hope, and acceptance. Good triumphs over evil, providing happier endings for his stories. When Alexander isn’t busy writing, you’ll find him enjoying a good soak in the tub, reading, cooking, giving to charity, or keeping up with his kids, grandkids, and extended family. He loves chocolate, insists on sending birthday cards, and considers himself an old-school Star Trek fan. While he is afraid of heights and hates exercise, he’s a loyal friend, neat housekeeper, and an enthusiastic grandpa. The author is known for masterful storytelling and phenomenal world-building. His books feature realistic, well-developed characters, emotional depth, sizzling romance, and all the adventure, action, and intrigue necessary for a great read. Alexander understands that real life can be discouraging and stressful. Reading allows him to get away from it all, and he invites you to join him. If you have enjoyed his work, he would love to hear from you! Email: aelliottbooks@gmail.com Website: https://aelliottbooks.com/

3 thoughts on “Weekly Roundup – Novel vs. Short Story: What’s the Difference?”

  1. Wow, 3300!? Super impressive! I think chances are good someone’s going to review it. Amazon’s changing their reviewer requirements, though, which may knock me out of the running in a few months since I only really spend money around Christmas…

    And you should consider submitting the short story somewhere. Give it a think.

    1. Thanks H! I haven’t considered submitting the story anywhere – it isn’t even finished yet!

      I always get good results using Freebooksy, but it costs $100 for a single listing and I never sell enough other books to cover the cost of promotion. I have to consider it part of expanding my reader base.

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