THE NOVEL — novellas & short stories

With freelance writing deadlines looming, year-end errands and the complete renovation of this blog site in the works, I’ve had to put THE NOVEL aside for a little while.

But that doesn’t mean it’s in cold storage.

It would be more accurate to say it’s on a low flame, simmering away. I was awakened by it the other morning. Between six and seven-thirty I wrote down five ideas — good ones — for this very long story with a huge cast of characters and stories within the main story.

I’ve devoted most of the last few years to novellas and short stories. I’ve always said that writing was writing and, to a large extent it’s true, but there’s nothing like full-length storytelling. It’s the big cat — the lion, the king of the jungle — while my short stories are much smaller monsters.

I’ve read all too many novels that run out of steam about a third of the way through, others that seem to vamp (and vamp and vamp and vamp) artificially extending the tale with useless digressions or repetition. I’m trying, very hard, to learn from the “mistakes” I’ve read and incorporate my lean short story writing approach to a longer, and much more complex, story.

Do any of you have suggestions about how to avoid those classic pitfalls?

I’ve tried to write this one before. I simply wasn’t ready. I hope I am now. I’m using my old research and the skeleton of the plot from the last time in the trenches, but I’ve rethought most of the characters and the voice is entirely different.


I’ll be back at this over New Years. Wish me a happy NOVEL year.





  1. Go for it!

    I am not sure I will ever be ready for the long form. But with all the short form stories I have in process as well as soon to be written, I am good with that.

    When the novel is your thing there is nothing that will satisfy the itch other than to get it written. You never know, maybe one day I will find myself in the same place as you.

  2. I’m not sure what your writing style is like, Candy, but I would highly recommend leaving the wordprocessor behind and using a dedicated writing application such as StoryBox [the one I use], or Scrivener [which is very similar]. There are also others around but I haven’t tried them.

    Before starting to write with StoryBox, I used Word, and I waffled. I knew I waffled but simply couldn’t find a way to make my writing leaner. Now, by writing is scenes that I can easily move around – both within chapters or the story as a whole – my writing is lean without any effort on my part.

    Why? Because in the linear structure of Word, I’d feel compelled to connect the dots from one clear idea to the next. But because I couldn’t really see that connection clearly at the time, I’d flounder around trying to fudge it. Hence the waffle.

    Now I write /only/ what I can see very clearly. Then, as new ideas come to me, I write another scene and slot it in. This is something I can do very easily in StoryBox but couldn’t do easily in Word.

    These dedicated writing apps have heaps of other benefit as well, but this was the one that surprised, and delighted me the most. And you don’t have to be a computer whiz to use them.

    Having read everything you’ve published todate, I’d really love to read a full length novel! Go for it. 🙂

    • Candy

      Having never used anything other than WORD — except the many passages that start with pen on paper (a lot of them start that way).

      This is a completely out-of-the-box suggestion!

  3. I’ve used Word and nothing else for writing. It never seemed an issue until I tried to tackle writing a novel. I’m seriously thinking about giving Scrivener a try in the new year when I start my third draft. When I look at 250 linear pages and tinker with how to move chunks around to better suit the narrative, I give up almost before I start. I’ve heard great things about Scrivener from at least six or seven follow writers.

    • Candy

      I guess I should look into it. So funny that I never thought of anything but word and scribbling. Lots and lots of scribbling.