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Freelance feast or famine?
Sometimes a freelance writing career can feel very much like "feast or famine". At the very beginning, it's almost all famine. You spend more time looking for freelance writing jobs than you spend actually writing, and, quite apart from being... more...

Ten Tips to Help You Finish Writing Your Novel
1. Set aside a time to write and keep it sacred. Make this a time when you know you are at your best and feel most creative -- Saturday mornings, late at night, whatever works for you. Make writing a priority and arrange other parts of your... more...

To Outline Or Not To Outline
Ah, the age-old writer's debate--to outline or not to outline? Outlines have proven quite effective for a lot of writers, and many of the famous stories we know and love--such as Star Wars--were outlined before they were fleshed out into a... more...

Nobody Likes A Rambler
We all know people who ramble. They include every boring and insignificant detail, speak in five-minute-long sentences and take forever to get to the point. When they finally reach the end of their story, most people have either walked away or... 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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