Posts Tagged ‘Israeli/Palestinian conflict’

About four times in my writing career, I’ve come up with really great ideas for stories, and I think they’d work at under ten-thousand words, which is what is usually the maximum length for a short story. But as I think about this idea and the story I plan to write with it, or as I try to write it and I run into problems, I realize something important: it has to be longer than a short story. There’s just no way I’m going to be able to put everything I want in this short story within such a small range. This is going to need to be much longer.

In other words, it’s going to need to be a novel.

For me, this is always frustrating to some degree. I have this idea, and I think that maybe I can get it written within a few weeks. And then I realize there’s more than one direction this story can go. And I want to add in so much material, which is impossible with just ten-thousand words. And yet I don’t want to give up any of it! So I cross it off my short story list and put it on my novel list, even though I realize that it might be years before I get around to writing it.

It’s even more frustrating when I’ve already attempted to write this particular idea as a short story. I wrote a story about a man who gets resurrected from death through science. It was great. But it had so much in it, so much hinted at within its pages. When I lent it to a friend, he told me that it would work great as a novel or even as a movie. After a lot of thought, I realized he was right.

And remember “the short story I’ve been struggling with on and off with for over a year”? Also known as “The Murderer’s Legacy”, “Miranda’s Tempest”, and “Strong’s Trial”, I could not get that story to work for the life of me. And with every draft and every change, I felt I was getting closer and at the same time getting farther away from the story that this story should be. Eventually I figured out a way to make this story work, but it meant turning this into a full-length novel. I was just like, “Fine. I’m not going to think of another way this story could work anytime soon, so let’s just keep it as is and hope I get around to it sooner rather than later.”

And last night, I was thinking of outlining this idea for a short story that I wanted to write. I sat down in front of my laptop to start outlining, and just as I put the order of events together in my head, I thought, No way can I get all this in within even twenty-thousand words. This has to be a novel. Aw dammit. Oh well, the story calls for it. What am I going to do?

Yeah, what am I going to do? How many ideas for short stories am I going to have that will eventually need to be turned into novels that might take years to get around to because that’s how busy I get sometimes? I hate it. I wish there was a way I could make these stories work as short stories. Especially that one I was going to work on yesterday, it was going to examine the Israeli-Palestinian conflict!

But it’s just not going to happen. I can’t fit these stories within ten or twenty-thousand words. They won’t work then, they won’t have the same punch if they were novels. There’s a reason I never got a version of Miranda’s Tempest/The Murderer’s Legacy/Strong’s Trial I liked, because I was writing it with a view of making it shorter than it needed to be.

And you know what? Sometimes you just can’t control the story like that. As an author, you have a lot of control over your story, you are its God in a sense. But at the same time, the story has some control over you. Events go certain ways you never thought about, characters act in a different way you thought they would and take things in a different direction. Authors of all types and experience know that this is a thing and that it happens a lot. And when it does, you just have to go with the flow or your story won’t turn out the way you hope.

I just hope someday I have more time than I do now to write, that I can get to these stories sooner rather than later. Perhaps someday I will. I know several writers who started writing part-time and through hard work, perseverance, and a bit of luck, became full-time writers able to devote their full energies to writing. That could be me someday. I’m still young and early in my career. A few more books, some more advertising and reviews. You never know what’s going to happen.

I do wish I had less of these ideas where I think they’ll be great short stories, but later on I realize they need to be novels. As I said above, it’s annoying when that happens.

Do you ever have this problem with a story? How do you feel about it when it happens?

When you do end up writing these stories at the right length, does it normally work out?