Monday, October 16, 2006

The Long and Short of It

When you first come up with a story idea, how do you know if it's going to be a novel, novella or short story? If you only have a germ of an idea...just barely a spot, how do you know if you'll have enough material to sustain a 90K word project?

For me, the answer is pretty simple. After doing my character sketches, I do a chapter by chapter outline to see if I can pull together more threads of a story, and exactly where that story is taking me. This isn't the only way I work, but the most prominent. After looking over the outline I can usually estimate how long I can run the story for. If I don't have enough for a novel it will go onto the lists for novellas.

I have to admit that I don't always know when I start out if I'll have enough background or sub-plot to pull off a novel. I try to keep all that to a minimum with novellas, but to give enough depth that the story doesn't feel like only a surface telling. Also, I think it's something you have to decide before you start the project, since length- for me at least - can dictate the pace in which I let the plot flow.

How do you determine your story length? Before or after you start? Or when you get the concept?



Cassandra Kane said...

I get it at concept stage. I more or less know what's going to happen because I get the whole plot of the story as a 'flash' in my head so I can tell how long it's going to be. I never plot it out though. I like being surprised by what my characters decide to do.

Angela Verdenius said...

Seeing as how I've only ever written one short story, all my ideas are meant for novels *g*. I get an idea, and write a plot outline to keep me focussed, and go from there. Mind you, before I write the outline, I do a lot of daydreaming for a few days! I can change things as I go, add and take, but I always ensure I jot those things down on a piece of paper.

Yep, I have to have my trusty pen and paper by my side