Book Club discussion

Novels or Short Stories?

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message 1: by John (new)

John Cicero | 71 comments Mod
What do you prefer to either read or write? The novel or the short story and why?

message 2: by Brigid ✩ (new)

Brigid ✩ I tend to prefer novels over short stories, both reading and writing them. I enjoy a good short story, but I believe that it is more difficult to craft one. You have to cut down on length and that means choosing the perfect words, characters, dialogue, etc. It's more difficult to create something memorable.

message 3: by Christopher (last edited Sep 08, 2010 12:23AM) (new)

Christopher Dunbar | 66 comments My co-author and I tend to write more novel-length works, but we have co-authored a novella we intend to publish with similarly-themed novellas from other authors we know.

I don't let the length bother me. We write until the story is done, no matter how many pages it encompasses. We will have it professionally edited, and we will trim it ourselves, removing any superfluous content. After going through this process, it is not uncommon for us to have between 700 and 1300 pages of manuscript.

Because these are fantasy adventure novels, we feel it is acceptable to have a story arc go over two to three novels; therefore, we break up the manuscript into multiple books (two or three, depending on the page count). Then we edit each new book, adding content where needed for setting, characters, plot, and other elements. The finished books are between 336 and 376 pages in length.

I don't know whether this technique is applicable for other genres, but it seems to work for us.


Christopher Dunbar

message 4: by Pam (new)

Pam I prefer to read novels. The short stories tend to feel unfinished, in my opinion. Yes, I am one of those readers that like to have everything tied up in a nice little bow at the end. I read for entertainment and I don't always want to have to think and conjure up my own interpretation of a storyline.

message 5: by A.F. (new)

A.F. (scribe77) I grew up reading short stories, wonderful tales by Harlan Ellison, Ray Bradbury, and others, so I have a sentimental preference for them, both in reading and writing. I love novels, but to me a great short story is more visceral and intimate between the writer and reader.

message 6: by June (new)

June Morgan I love novels.

message 7: by 40k (last edited Sep 18, 2010 04:33AM) (new)

40k (40kbooks) | 5 comments We think that this message should works as a sort of presentation. We are interested in this discussion because we only publish novelettes and short stories.

The reasons we prefer short fiction forms are various: short forms often are tecnically more difficult than a novel, so can be really interesting if well interpreted. But short forms, maybe, can be now rethinked thanks to ebooks (you can publish a novelette as a single book) and maybe we can think about a different reading time, a sort of interstitial reading.

But we ar enough lucky, as readers, to read both short forms and novels :)

message 8: by Karen (new)

Karen (karenvwrites) | 5 comments I prefer novels but sometimes a short story is good.

message 9: by Dan (new)

Dan (akagunslinger) For reading, I prefer novels all the way. I really have to force myself when it comes to short stories.

Short stories seem harder for me to write as well. I've completed three novel length stories but only one short story.

message 10: by Shirley (new)

Shirley Wells (shirleywells) | 13 comments I love both - for reading and writing. Short stories are great to read during a coffee break or while waiting for an appointment. Novels are to be read when a wet Sunday afternoon looms, or the luxury of a few spare hours in the evening.

I began writing short stories (mostly romances) when there was a good market for these in the UK. By the time my first novel was published, I'd had several hundred shorts published. Very different disciplines, but I enjoy both.

message 11: by Renee (new)

Renee (rjmiller) I'm with Shirley. I love both. Sometimes I have only a limited amount of time so I'll write or read a short rather than digging into something longer. A few of my shorts have turned into novels as well.

As Shirley said, they are different disciplines, and shorts are good practice for new authors to test their writing limits and strengths.

Hmm. Guess I should go introduce myself according to this popup thing.

message 12: by Serena (new)

Serena Yates (serenayates) I read and write both. It depends on my mood whether I want to dive into a longer novel or whether I just want to have a quick, fun read of something shorter. When I write, it really depends on the characters and the story. Some ideas just seem to work better as a shorter piece, and sometimes the story is so involved that it turns out to be longer. I enjoy writing the longer ones more, though.

message 13: by Maria (new)

Maria | 10 comments I agree with Serena, some stories have to be written as a novel, but others work better as a short story. I read and write novels and short stories. I think readers should not be quick to dismiss short stories. There are some great ones out there.
I also agree with 40k, short stories can be technically more difficult to write than novels, because with a novel you have many more words with which to get your story across. With a short story you have to try to get the balance right as to the amount of information in the story. When they are written well, short stories are just as satisfying to read as a novel.

message 14: by Hannah (new)

Hannah (behindonreading) I prefer novels. Reading AND writing them.

message 15: by Ottilie (new)

Ottilie (ottilie_weber) | 131 comments I prefer reading and writing novels, i jsut dont' feel like short stories get full involved.

message 16: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth Isaacs (eisaacs) | 2 comments Novels ... always.

message 17: by [deleted user] (new)

I tend to start writing Novels but they end up being short stories for some reason, but im working on that and I read Novels because I love them

message 18: by Ottilie (new)

Ottilie (ottilie_weber) | 131 comments Sierra: I do that sometimes too, I think oh this will be a good story then I realize unless i really beat it into the ground and kill it it is a short story

message 19: by Ottilie (new)

Ottilie (ottilie_weber) | 131 comments For me I like writing from different peoples point of view. I alterate chapters on who talks.

message 20: by Carolynn (new)

Carolynn (Molly.Groot) Evans  (molly_groot) | 38 comments I prefer to read novels... and the longer the better, if they are well written. I love being able to sink into the characters, into their world.

Once in a while, I do enjoy a good short story- but often, they are simply a tool for finding a new author to enjoy. I do love short memoirs, however, both reading and writing.


message 21: by Paul (new)

Paul Clayton | 5 comments I usually read novels, short stories only in they're in magazines. (Don't know if that's because I've only been able to sell one short story to a magazine, while I've been able to publish four novels... or not.) But I think I like a long experience. The last long book I read was Pillars of the Earth, and it was wonderful. I'm looking forward to more Follett. I sent him a copy of my book, White Seed: The Untold Story of the Lost Colony of Roanoke, and asked him to read it. Think he will? Maybe he'll become a fan. :)

message 22: by Tracey (new)

Tracey Alley (traceya) Actually I like both. I love a big, juicy novel I can sink my teeth into but a good, quick short story while I'm waiting at the doc's or similar is very satisfying as well. I've also found some fabulous authors through their short stories

message 23: by Anna (new)

Anna Walls (annalwalls) I prefer to read novels. I find short stories frustratingly short, though I've read several I liked. As far as my writing, I let the story tell me how long it's going to be so I do have one document full of 11 short stories ranging in page-length from between 5 pages and a little more than 100 pages. I also have 12 full length novels. 1 is published, 1 is being considered by a publisher and will make a trilogy, the rest range in length between a little over 200 pages to a little over 500 pages.

message 24: by Delaney (new)

Delaney Diamond (delaney_diamond) My first published work is a novella, but I'm also working on a couple of novels. I read both novels and shorter stories. Either will satisfy me if well-written.

message 25: by [deleted user] (new)

Novels. I like getting to know characters. Short-stories are - short! :) I never could write anything short. Even in school, my teachers would both dread and look forward to my answers to essay question - dread the length, enjoy the answer.

message 26: by Cerena (new)

Cerena Brown | 24 comments hi

message 27: by Anna (new)

Anna Walls (annalwalls) Hello Cerena

message 28: by Hamilton (new)

Hamilton (rainydaze) Pam wrote: "I prefer to read novels. The short stories tend to feel unfinished, in my opinion. Yes, I am one of those readers that like to have everything tied up in a nice little bow at the end. I read for..."

I agree Pam! Whether I'm reading or writing I feel like there's so much missed in a short story that a novel can develop more fully

message 29: by C.L. (last edited Feb 01, 2012 09:14PM) (new)

C.L. I know I'm in the minority but I like to write and read short stories and novellas.
I write short because I just write that way, and for me it turns out better. Yes, I have written a full novel, but it felt more like I was meeting a word count than developing the story. Again that's just me. As for reading it seems like the novels are just way over detailed in some instances, and I lose interest if someone doesn't get to the point in a timely fashion. But that's just my opinion. I think a well done short story, and there are a lot of them, is just as effective. There are just fewer words. One of my favorites is "The Willows" by Algernon Blackwood.

message 30: by Sharon (new)

Sharon (fiona64) John wrote: "What do you prefer to either read or write? The novel or the short story and why?"

I do both, but they really are different art forms. My novel started out as a short story where the characters weren't ready to be quiet. :-D

A well-constructed short story is a thing of beauty, as is a well-constructed novella or novel. They just require very different writing styles to pull off.

message 31: by Tara (new)

Tara (goodreadscomtara_lynn_masih) | 6 comments If you had asked me when I was young whether my first book would be a story collection of a novel, I would have said novel. Instead, it is a collection. I think because English majors are mostly taught the short story, because of time constraints, we learn to love and value them. I love both forms, but stories are starting to fit better into my hectic life. And I'm told by readers who love novels that they love my book because the stories read like small novels....
Where The Dog Star Never Glows by Tara L. Masih

message 32: by [deleted user] (new)

As an author and avid reader I must say that the novel hits the top of my list for both reading and writing. I have a hard time getting the whole picture from most short stories.

message 33: by Kathy (new)

Kathy Davie (kathydavie) | 35 comments Most of the short stories I've read are like a peek in the window. Although, I have run across a few shorts that have read like a full novel as the author does the most incredible job of providing the info to make it full like a full-length story. Then there's the other benefit of short stories providing an introduction to a series or author I've never read also tips me off as to who never to consider for my TBR pile...LOL

message 34: by Abby (new)

Abby Ryan | 1 comments Brigid *Flying Kick-a-pow!* wrote: "I tend to prefer novels over short stories, both reading and writing them. I enjoy a good short story, but I believe that it is more difficult to craft one. You have to cut down on length and that ..."

I agree! I've only written 3 short stories but I’ve written 6 novels. Short stories are by far harder, and they are over to soon... I like falling in love with the characters I write, and so I can spend more time with my characters if the story is longer… and twist, o I love twists! If a short story has a twist, it usually ends with that and you pause to scream “WHAT? IT’S OVER!” :) Novels all the way! (For me the, exception only goes for Holly Black’s short stories. Her Poison Eaters, incredible! Enough said.) ^.^

message 35: by Brian (new)

Brian B. (brian_b_baker) | 1 comments I prefer to write novels, but I write short stories when I'm stuck. It breaks me out of the funk. I like the world building of a novel, I didn't used to, but now I love creating the worlds my characters live in. I write mostly Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror and getting into the worlds helps me understand the characters better.

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