Friday, October 19, 2012

The Long and Short Of It


Congratulations to "Missy", the winner of Cathy's giveaway.  Thank you to all who participated!

I’ve always been a little awed by short story writers. In just a few pages, they set up a conflict, shape a character and deliver a twisty ending. And don’t get me started on song lyrics—whew, a complete story in less than four minutes.

I’m one of those authors who loves writing twisty, multiple suspects, numerous red herrings and a few subplots just in case things aren’t complicated enough already stories. (I have two of those novels releasing next year. Think Maureen will let me come back? But I digress…)

Writers seem to fall into one camp or the other—long or short—without much cross-over. I figured I was firmly in the “long” camp. But a funny thing happened this summer. I was completely blocked on a story. Deer in the headlights. Convinced I’d never write another word that wasn’t garbage. Painfully creeping to the first turning point. As in, nothing positive was happening. Then one day, a character from The Professor cleared his throat and said, “Get over here and pay attention.”

And I discovered novellas can be fun to write.

Novellas fill that gray area (whatever shade you want it to be) between short story and novel. While I usually write complex subplots, with this novella, I stripped those out to focus on the central story and theme. In HONOR CODE, the story revolves around the way the three main characters choose to live their lives—their code of honor.

Or lack of one.

The layers of complexity in a novella must serve multiple tasks, both driving the story forward and defining the characters. The romance in HONOR CODE is a subplot to the suspense, but I found a theme in mature love that I really want to explore in another story.

Hmm… maybe another novella…

What do you like as a reader or a writer? Long or short? Giving secondary characters the stage for a while? Or would you rather focus on the main character, the primary plot?

HONOR CODE hasn’t released yet, so I will be giving away both a copy of The Professor and an ARC of HONOR CODE to one lucky person leaving a comment.




Giveaway ends 11:59pm EST Oct. 19th. Please supply your email in the post. You may use spaces or full text for security. (ex. jsmith at gmail dot com) If you do not wish to supply your email, or have trouble posting, please email maureen@justromanticsuspense.com with a subject title of JRS GIVEAWAY to be entered in the current giveaway.





30 comments:

  1. I love short stories but sometimes I feel like I want it to keep on going too. It must be so hard to keep it short. Would love to win. lsscarchuk@att.net

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    1. Hopefully you want it to keep going because you've bonded with the characters!
      I think that's one of the hard parts, balancing relating to the characters against a quick plot. It's a challenge not to cut things off too quickly in any story.

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  2. I'm a very fast reader, so short stories tend to leave me with a feeling of "what? It's over already?? But I want more!!" Whilst I appreciate the tremendous amount of skill it takes to develop a complete story in short format, I favour full-length novels... but several of my favourite authors have taken to writing novellas to spotlight secondary characters whose stories may not be meaty enough for a full-length novel but are still interesting to tell, so I've definitely warmed up to them :)

    stalkers00(at)yahoo(dot)com

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    1. Morning Cris
      That's what happened here! A number of people told me they loved Larry Robbins, the Newberry, SC detective in The Professor. This novella is a chance to tell his story.

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  3. I love both long stories and short stories! Both of these stories sound great and I am looking forward to trying them, even if I don't win! Thanks for the giveaway!

    jaclynlavigne@yahoo.com

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    1. Thanks for stopping by Jaclyn! I had a great time writing both of them - hope you enjoy reading them.

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  4. I love both long and short stories. Also love when a secondary story is thrown in with the main one. Thanks for the chance to win! Have a great weekend!

    Missy
    misbaglady@yahoo.com

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    1. Thanks Missy! It's finally supposed to rain this weekend. Sounds like a great excuse to curl up with a book and read :)

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  5. I loved The Professor. I also love short stories & novellas . Can't wait for Honor Code!

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  6. I think I prefer the longer stories. I like to *live* with the characters and situations for awhile. Shorter stories, even when well written, are just over too quickly. That being said, a well written novella can suck me in. Trishleroy49 at gmail dot com.

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    1. Novels will stay my preferred length, too. The novellas - reading or writing them - is a nice change.

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  7. I've always loved novellas. Another up side to the ereader. Nmscuri at gmail.

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    1. Novellas are great on an ereader, perfect for any time you want a quick read. Definitely better than a months-old magazine while sitting in the waiting room :)

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  8. I've always loved novellas. Another up side to the ereader. Nmscuri at gmail.

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  9. Darn it! This is getting to be a bad habit. Email: jo1963jo at gmail dot com

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    1. Sigh...it appears my original post has disappeared making my "darn it" post look inappropriate.

      Original post: I am not particular. I do appreciate "meaty" secondary characters as opposed to those that seem to be thrown in to fill a few pages and no real purpose. All I need is though is interesting heroines & heroes with a good plot. It can be in a 10 page story or a 500 page novel!

      jo1963jo at gmail dot com

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    2. Ah the electronic gremlins

      I'm the same kind of reader, Jo. Interesting characters and plot and I'm happy.

      On the flip side, my CP had a great secondary character in her recent book. Everybody loved him. Problem? She needed to kill him in the third chapter. Her editor told her to take him out. My response: 'Uhm, hello? Novella for that character?'

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    3. Oh no! Interesting character assassination... not good. ;-). Definitely going to have to check it out! Must be one heck of a story if a character like that "needs taken out"

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  10. I really enjoy the longer stories, but have read quite a few short stories recently and have been pleasantly surprised by most of them. Some I wanted to continue and others I felt were too long already!
    k dot cherub2011 at gmail dot com

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    1. Hi Karen -
      Thanks for stopping by. I'm seeing a real trend here - people are willing to give the shorter stories a try but want the same combination of plot and character.

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  11. Hello Cathy,
    I enjoy long stories, particularly series. Your covers are interesting.
    Jan

    janet_kerr(at)msn.com

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    1. Hi Janet
      Several of my favorite authors have long running series (I’m reading one of Margaret Maron’s Deborah Knott series right now). I like 'getting to know' the characters and watching them develop. A second book for Mick, the detective in The Professor, is a definite possibility. :)
      Glad you like the covers!

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  12. I enjoy both - novellas are a great way to discover new authors.

    jtcgc at yahoo dot com

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    1. They can be a way to 'find' new authors. I see novellas as an introduction, without the time commitment of a novel.

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  13. I prefer longer books.

    bn100candg(at)hotmail(dot)com

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    1. I fully understand. I love the time a longer novel gives not just the reader, but the author. Time to commit to the characters and the central story question. Time to layer in all the subplots.
      But I do think shorter stories have a place. I go back to SC every fall (I have a wonderful mentor who is deeply involved with the turtles who nest on the beaches there, but I promise - no homing instinct... maybe) for a writing masterclass and catch up with my writing buddies. One of them is an amazing short story writer - but he's convinced he can't write a novel.
      The proverbial takes all kinds

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  14. As a reader, longer novel. Since I'm not a writer, I prefer to write short story until I gain some mastery of "What I'm I doing?" I like giving the attention to the primarily characters. The secondary characters could get their own story.

    kmccandle(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  15. When I connect with a story, characters & their world I don't want to let them go, so the longer the story the better. A short story read can be just the thing sometimes though.

    I always like the support the secondary characters give to a story. On occasion it does seem like they are just begging for their own story.

    marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com


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