Long or Short? That is the Question

I was planning on posting an excerpt from my story (fortunately I didn’t actually say I would do that, but I sort of planned on it. Still, I won’t let Writer’s Block- or procrastination- stop me) but an interesting topic came to my attention.

Which is better- to write stories that are long or short? Just about anything could be lengthened, to be at least 100,000 words long. And something like Lord of the Rings, with several alterations, could be shortened even to 5,000 words long- in fact I might try that some time, just for the sake of curiosity.

I tend to write stories that are shorter. The longest I’ve done is 100,000 and I can get pretty close to that still. And actually, by my own measurements I would have said that was long, because that’s how I think- partly because I used to write stories that were- at most- 30,000 words long. I simply think in shorter terms- and my sister, a fellow author (she’s properly an author, by the way; I’m just a writer) thinks in long terms. 100,000 words is short, not just not-as-long but short for her!

(Here is a link to my sister’s blog: http://abythingandeverything.blogspot.com/)

So which is better- short or long? I won’t delay the answer, because it’s pretty obvious. The answer is that it depends on what you want, if the story you’re writing needs to be slow or short and what you’re comfortable with it.

But I find it interesting that, for me, ‘shorter’ is natural. Whenever I try to write a proper Lengthy Novel, it just doesn’t happen. What I want to say, I manage in about half the word count I was ‘planning’. So why is that? And the fact that my sister so easily writes novels that are long, and even when she’s got it all planned she usually has at least 20,000 more words worth of things she could have included- it makes me wonder: am I doing something wrong? Are my stories rushed, am I not including enough details or extra stuff to make it feel realistic rather than speeded?

And I’m sure (okay, maybe not completely sure) that there’s some part of her that’s wondering: am I writing too long and should I shorten it, the way my speed-demon sister does?

I wish there was some way I could fix this thing, but it’s not a problem. It’s just like finding out your best friend likes vanilla ice cream rather than chocolate, and you always thought she liked chocolate! There’s nothing wrong with it, you just have to accept your differences and work with it.

I’ve always liked the idea of having an epic novel that you’re working on for years, like my sister does, and having loads of journals filled with the same story like my sister (they’re not really loads, just several) and a stack of notebooks for that story and covering the wall with notes on your story, like my sister does. Okay- well, I don’t think I would like the idea of taking years to complete a novel. I do that some times, but that’s only when I’m writing for the fun of it and not toward some goal.

I like the idea of an Epic Novel. Not just a story. Not just a novel- but an epic novel that you’re working on. But I don’t do that. I appeal to the modern audience, that reads things on iPads and Nooks and things, because the longest I write is 100,000, and I hope to take advantage of that strength. Sure, I’d like to write a novel that takes years to complete- not just because of procrastination or the craziness of life- but that’s not what I do. So I might as well work with what I’ve got- of which I am truly thankful and enjoy.

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