Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Switching gears?

OK, maybe I have stalled on my novel, but something strange happened recently. I am not having writer's block.

I have been writing short stories.

I have written and polished three short stories in the last month, and I am in the process of finishing another. I find myself liking this.

I've always preferred writing longer work, because I like to slowly build my worlds, develop my characters, and let the mystery unfold. However, there's something to say about the satisfaction of writing short fiction.

First, the reward comes sooner. I can usually finish a story in about a week. No more waiting for 18 months to type "THE END." It's gratifying.

Second, it's really amazing to see how I can take a single idea and turn it in to a complete story with a beginning, middle and ending; how I can use the least number of words to tell the most complex stories with interesting characters; how I can focus on a single plot thread without distracting myself by all the back stories and subplots; it prevents me from being emotionally tangled with my characters for too long.

Best of all, it keeps me writing. It keeps me coming up with ideas -- some are great for shorts, and some for longer fiction, and who knows? The shorts might turn into novels in the future. Most important, it keeps me writing. I am not wasting my breath waiting for something to happen, and that is liberating in an exciting way.

I still prefer writing longer work. There's no substitution for the immense relief and joy of finishing a manuscript that measures 400 pages and weigh five pounds. But between epics, small nuggets of adventure are a wonderful diversion.

Take my word for it.

2 comments:

September said...

I have always loved writing short stories the best. But I've admired those who write novels. But, aren't short stories fun?

Ray Wong said...

Yeah, I started by writing short stories. But I've been obsessed with novels the past 8 years since I began thinking about writing a novel. I'm now back to my short-story phase, and it's fun. I have at least 8 to 10 ideas I'd like to explore. This is also a good break for me -- I was starting to feel burned out with my novel WIP.