Can you be a good novelist AND a good short story writer?


ericjohnbaker

dr evil and mini me

I’m sure somebody brilliant can, but what about the average, competent wordsmith?

Though I’m a business writer by profession, I consider myself a novelist for no good reason other than the novel is my preferred vehicle for storytelling. 80,000 words feels about right for saying what I want to say. Still, I’ve dabbled in short fiction, usually ending up with unwieldy pieces that are too long for literary rags but too short for standalone publication.

Over the past several months, I’ve been intermittently digging old stories from the vaults (otherwise known as my hard drive) and rereading them. Most were written 5-6 years ago, with periodic revision since.

My first conclusion: I’m not sure I understand the short story as an art form. What makes a short story “good”? How much stuff needs to happen for it to qualify as a story and not a vignette? What does a character arc…

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2 thoughts on “Can you be a good novelist AND a good short story writer?

  1. I would say so. Cutting every word and making every scene and sentence count are as important over 80,000 words as 800; I believe it’s a skill well worth mastering.

    • I’m not entirely sure. I think that as someone who is writing a few novels, and someone who struggles with short stories – I find my ideas too complex for a small word limit. It matters not how taught my writing is if I want to cram 15 plot twists and 7 characters into a short story I’m struggling.

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