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Improve Your Writing
None of us will be brilliant writers the moment we first pick up a pen or hit the keyboard. It's a fact. We're beginners and while some will be beginning with better skills and understandings than others, none of us will be the best writer we can... more...

The Search for the Story: One Writer's Approach to Fiction
The process of writing a book starts, for me, with a place in time that I find intriguing. I begin to do a little research -- if possible, with novels written at the time -- and then, if all goes well, I experience a kind of flash of complete... more...

Become The Writer You Always Dreamed Of Being
So you want to be a writer, except you don't know where to begin. Heck you can't even think of something to write about let alone how you're going to get paid for writing. Maybe you have gotten over those humps but can't figure out why you're not... more...

What To Write About
This is a perennial question among writers and wannabe's. Many of us dream of writing a book. Why not. What greater story cans one write about than one's own. Each day brings a new beginning, a new page in the book of life. What can you... more...

Writing for Local Veterinary Hospitals
Freelance writer STANLEY BURKHARDT has a passion for animals. He loves animals so much, he crafted himself a new career. For the last eight years, Stanley has made a career out of writing for local veterinary hospitals -- and... more...

Which Comes First -- Short Story Or Novel?
by David B. Silva

A writer writes.

Bet you've heard that one before.

Or maybe this one: if you want to be a writer, first you write one word, then you write the next.

Both of these old clichés are true, of course. That's how they turned into clichés. But there's another dilemma a beginning creative writer often finds himself facing: do I write short stories or novels?

Writing novels is almost always the end goal. You'll find exceptions---such as Ray Bradbury and Harlan Ellison, who primary built their careers writing short stories---but the vast majority of successful storytellers are novelists.

The real question then is this: do I jump into novel writing with both feet or do I test the waters first by writing short stories?

Generally, beginning writers don't understand that these are two very different forms. They see writing a short story as easier, less intimidating. At a cursory glance, it's hard to argue with that. But if you ask a writer successful in both forms, he'll almost always tell you that short stories pose a much more difficult task.

Why?

Because you're working on a small canvas.

The novel is a wall mural. It's expansive. You have time to fully develop your characters. There's room for movement, for growth and change, for surprises and insights, for looking back as well as looking forward.

The short story is an 8x10 landscape. It's a moment in time when your character faces a critical point in his or her existence, a moment that changes everything. In a glimpse, readers must believe in your characters, in the crisis they face, in the choices they make. It's a tiny, one-dimensional surface that must appear three-dimensional.

With that understanding, starting out writing short stories can still be a good proving ground for a writer. You learn quickly what works and what doesn't. You learn to write tight, to pack as much meat into as few words as possible. You learn to capture the core make up of your characters.

All very valuable lessons for both the short story writer and the novelist.

Copyright © 2005 David B. Silva

Resource: David B. Silva, The Successful Writer (http://thesuccessfulwriter.com)

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