20 thoughts on “The Novel Approach by Kate Thornton”

  1. Writing a novel is like taking a journey… a long journey with lots of baggage and lots of stops and you meets lots of people. The short story is a day trip, next to no baggage, few stops, maybe a detour, small car with few passengers. Anyway, that's how I teach The Art of the Short Story class Your journey with your book will take you and your potential readers to great places.

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  2. I agree with Jackie Vick that short stories are actually harder to write than novels because you have to convey so much in so little space. I need a kinda-sorta outline for my novels, but I have to be careful that it doesn't set the story in concrete so if a side trip occurs to me while I'm writing, I can go in that other direction. Of course this has its drawbacks: my current project weighed in at a hefty 123,000 words in the first draft. Needless to say, I'm slashing and burning and killing a lot of darlings during the rewrite. You are NOT “just a short-story writer,” Kate. You're a WRITER with lots of good stories to tell. This one is just more complex than some of the others.

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  3. I also think it's harder to write a good short story, which you do! The first thing I ever got published was a short story in Alfred Hitchcock Mag eons ago. Hard and difficult to say what I wanted to say in so few words–doubt I could do now. I think you've mastered the hard form already.

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  4. I write 300-page novels and recently it's felt as though it's all a hard plod. I am enraged with people who say writing is such fun! I want to back hand them. Sorry to seem negative.

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  5. Hi, I do a short pre-writing outline that I've adapted from screenwriting techniques. I go from the idea to a short logline then think about theme and then the three act structure. I try to know at least how the story will begin and how it will end but I give myself room to move around. I know what you mean, Kate. I always thought novels gave me way too much room to hang myself in. Like you, I write mostly short stories but I've graduated to what the E Age calls novellas. It feels most of the time like I'm taking little tiny steps but the pre-writing outline really does help me SEE the story before I get going. I also use a short story structure sheet sometimes that helps me get the story off the ground. Here's the link if you want to take a look at it: http://scribemeetsworld.com/wp content/uploads/2015/08/Ultimate_Story_Structure_Worksheet_v7_0.pdf
    Not sure this is helpful for all writers, but it works for me. Paul

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  6. It is a huge jump to go from short story to novel, especially if you are accustomed to the short story form. I wanted to end all of my chapters nicely and neatly, providing closure instead of creating a need to turn the page. It required focused thinking to stop doing that.

    Good luck! And even if you outline, you can stray from it and surprise yourself. Happens all the time.

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  7. Mar, anyone who says writing is fun must be thinking about sex or food or something. Writing is work! The only reason we do it is because we are compelled to do so by forces beyond our control. It's not negativity – it's truth! And where would we be without your delightful books?

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  8. Paul, I love it when you share your techniques with us – I am a big fan of yours. Thank you so much for sharing the structure sheet. And thank you for sharing the idea about novellas – something I hadn't thought about! One of the great things about writing a novel is that if you *do* hang yourself, you can always start over! I know – ugh!

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  9. Thank you, Ramona – I love both the compulsion of writing and the flexibility of revision. It's the actual work that makes me want to do laundry or anything else! And I surprise myself all the time – hey, where'd *that* character come from?!

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  10. I loved your post, Kate! I could almost see the “little gray cells” busy with cataloging and shuffling and forming piles of ideas. No wonder you need an outline (well, maybe). It could be like a long row of tables on which you place your piles of ideas, scenes, characters, settings, clues etc., in a certain order. And as for knowing the story already…well you can always knock over one of the tables… or better yet let a kitty and a cat-chasing pooch loose in the room to mix things up! HA!

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  11. Great post. You're so right, Kate. Writing is hard work. If it wasn't, everyone could do it. I'm with those who find writing short stories much harder, because novels give me enough wiggle room to blather, then edit. But between your classes and Gayle's, I learned how to do it properly. As for outlining, like my February 11 post showed, it helps some writers to outline in some way, but others prefer to follow their muse and just write. Do what works best for you.

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