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Just a short story or more...?

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Old 11-02-2009, 08:58 PM
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Default Just a short story or more...?


I have notebooks full of ideas. There are characters to develop, plot lines to pursue, synopses summed up in either pages or a mere paragraph, and most of them are untapped.

However, as I delve into one of these ideas, I often come across the same problem. Are these ideas worthy of an entire book or just a short story?

I would say the majority of my ideas are birthed as short story plots, but sometimes, after I finish such a thing, it seems like a waste to have used a great idea on a 3000 word piece.

I was recently working on a book. I didn't have a clear idea of everything in the plot, but I knew the message I wanted to get across. Said book has since been abandoned, (albeit temporarily).

At the same time, I was working on a short story. A short story I had figured out from front to back, and that has now turned into a novel with endless possibilities, and a message that wasn't ever originally in the short version, which was just meant to be an entertaining piece of fiction.

Do any other writers often turn short story ideas into complete books? How do you know how much potential your idea has? I'm sure the process is different for everyone, but I'm curious to hear some responses.

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Old 11-03-2009, 03:49 AM
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i think the art of short stories is very different to novel writing. its hard to see whether an idea has the potential to be a novel unless i know what the idea is
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Old 11-03-2009, 09:34 AM
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There's plenty of examples of short stories that are written and later turned into novels (Fight Club from Palahniuk and Duma Key from Stephen King spring to mind). I think the art of the short story lies in the brevity. It's remarkably difficult to do. My only suggestion would be to just write your story out and if it has the weight of a novel then pursue it and if you feel it would have more power as a shorter piece then end it. You can always convert it into a longer piece later on (inserting it as a chapter for example).
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Old 11-03-2009, 03:15 PM
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Sometimes condensing a great idea into a smaller piece is more effective, not a waste! It lets the reader focus more in the one great idea, rather than let the idea get lost inside other things that might be good, but not as fantastic.
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Old 11-03-2009, 07:58 PM
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I,too, have notebooks of ideas that I don't know what to do with them. I guess Janx is right. You can write it out and see how it feels to determine its length. You can always lengthen it if you want later on, but it's harder for you to corp it down into a shorter piece.
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Old 11-06-2009, 01:44 PM
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My viewpoint (which is most certainly wrong by the way) is that short stories are something you will jot down in a notepad. A novel is a notepad full of jottings.

I myself filled an entire college notebook with plot points, and after careful filtering, I have a very vague foundation for a novel.
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