Writing a short story is like running the 100 meter dash, while writing a novel is like running a marathon. Though some of the mechanics are the same, there are differences in training and mindset. Some people can do both well, but not all.
When you’re running a marathon, you have to ignore the cramps in your side, the pain in your feet from the constant pounding against pavement, you have to figure in hydration and nutrition. You must pace yourself correctly, and even if you’ve calculated a strategy before hand, it usually requires some adjustment as you go. The psychological experience is drawn out, and the biggest challenge can be to outsmart yourself.
I recently took a break from my novel length WIP to focus on a couple of short stories. Now I’m having difficulty switching back to the novel. My pace was disrupted, and I am finding I need to warm up to the novel again. Though I’m happy with the short story I produced, I don’t know if it was a good idea for me to switch. I only hope that I can get back up to speed quickly, but so far it’s been painful.
Do you work on multiple projects at once? Are you working on short fiction at the same time as long? If so, how do you switch between them?
I’ve been having trouble with a particular character lately. I seem to have lost a feel for his personality. His original motivations no longer apply in the context of the story so I need to do some revision.
Since last week I asked you about female characters, this week, in an attempt to solve my character dilemma, I’ve been trying to contemplate the characteristics of those memorable male protagonists. In the end I came up with a list.
These are not necessarily my favorites, but memorable:
Logan – from Joe Abercrombie’s First Law Trilogy. He’s, big, ugly, crude, actually kind of pathetic until a switch goes off and he goes berserk. Out of all the characters in the series I found he was the most sympathetic. He understands the necessity of fighting along with others, and makes efforts to get along.
Paul Atreides / Maud’Dib – from Frank Herbert’s Dune. Expertly trained in fighting and politics. He’s relentless in his goals and manipulates people around him to achieve what he wants. Yet, he questions himself. He is self-aware and knows how precarious his position is.
Jamie Fraser – from Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. He’s honest, He tries to do the right thing (even if it doesn’t always turn out that way). He’s educated and speaks several languages. He’s not the best fighter and he gets hurt both physically and emotionally. He’s loyal and he loves with abandon…. um actually…I would want to marry this man if he were real… LOL…sorry that was not very objective was it?
What are some of your memorables? Or what are characteristics would you like to see in a male protagonist?
There are times when I put down a book and even if the story has ended happily, I feel bittersweet. You live with the characters in a story for a week, a month, a series. They love and you love. They cry and you cry. It’s sometimes such an intimate thing, that when it’s over, it can be like saying goodbye to a friend that never knew you.
I started a fiction writing website years ago with a great bunch of friends. Together we created a world from scratch, dreamed up the cultures, the settings, and the characters that inhabited it. Now we’ve all moved on to other things.
Yesterday I wrote the last post and tied up the loose ends of a story that’s been waiting patiently for a conclusion for more than a year. As I read backwards to re-orient myself, the characters began to take on that telltale spark of life. Writing the last post was easy, I knew how everyone would talk and act. It was like meeting old friends again.
And I’m a little sad.
Even if we create them… our characters can take on lives of their own sometimes. I like to imagine they keep on living, and loving, and adventuring even when I am no longer writing them.
Maybe I’m just feeling nostalgic, or maybe I’m just odd? 🙂
Oh yes, I did kill off a character or two in the process. I guess I’m just a little bit evil too.