In the last millennium, I wrote short stories, beginning in Grade Three and through college. Writing a novel seemed impossible. My brain was wired to concentrated as in term papers and a solid argument for any academic position taken. In college, I was the one who came up with all sorts of tricks when faced with papers over five pages long. Spacing of 1.5 so it wasn’t double and obvious? One line making it to the final obligatory page? Footnotes to back up use of the word “the”? Well, that part is close to an exaggeration…
What a difference a millennium makes. When I stopped writing arguments for budget proposals and the Social Security equivalent of legal briefs for first level appeals, I decided to try my hand at novels just as a fun challenge. I struggled but found I liked it. Sad part is that I can’t write short stories any more.
In all fairness, I shouldn’t be talking about short stories since I don’t write them, and my one attempt about fifteen years ago was rejected so many times the poor manuscript developed wings to fly back home. But I will share my thoughts as a reader. That is legit, although just my taste. Feel free to skip to next blog. I won’t be hurt.
From this reader’s point of view, the tale determines the length. I hate all these categories which feel artificial to me. A short story, for instance, isn’t less complex than a novel, nor is a novella or even flash fiction. They are simply more taut. Is the final result satisfying? If so, it works. I don’t care about length or what the collection is called. I do understand why magazines, anthologies, and publishers give word limits. Not talking about that. I’m talking about pigeonholing for no reason other than to pigeonhole.
So what is the answer to “short story vs. novel’? I like to think of a short story as a tale about the occupants of a single house. A novella includes a few of the neighbors. A novel is about the whole village.
Now off to read the other LadyKillers who know far more than I do about this subject!