Friday, October 8, 2010

David Fingerman: FRESH

I say fresh, as I've had David visit before, but last time it was for his collection of short stories, and this time, he has released a NOVEL. So you see... he's FRESH. Fingerman's collection of short, speculative fiction got some great reviews, and his novel, Silent Kill, looks pretty darned scary—you know how I like scary stuff.

So I welcome David today to tell us a little about some of the key DIFFERENCES between writing short stories and novels. So welcome, David!


Novel vs. Short Story

For those of you who have checked out my website, you know that I've been writing short stories for quite some time. It wasn't until I left my job and started writing full time that I attempted to write a novel. One question that I get asked frequently, well, not frequently but at least a few times, is which do I like writing more, the short story or the novel? Both have their advantages and disadvantages. Obviously, the short story doesn't take nearly as long to write (or at least shouldn't). One of my favorite things about writing the short story is that by the time I'm starting to get sick of it, I'm done. That being said, I have talked to writers who tell me they can't write a short story ~ too confining. It's true that you don't have the space to waste words, but isn't that true for a novel also? The biggest disadvantage I find writing short pieces is that there is so much more I want to tell. You can only go into your character's past or psyche so far. You can only describe a setting to the essentials. There is credence to the cliché ~ every word is important. One tip that I like to give writers wanting to write short stories. If there's an exact word count, keep it in the back of your mind while writing but don't worry about going past. When you're done with the first draft the fun starts ~ editing. As big a pain as it is (for me, anyway), by the time you chop enough words off your masterpiece to meet the word limit, you should find your sentences tighter and making every word count.

The advantage of writing the novel is freedom. Delve as deep into the character you want. Add back-story and fill out the scene. You can play with more than one idea (in fact, if you only have one idea I highly recommend sticking to the short story). Of course the downside is you're not going to finish in a day. Just like a short story, you're going to have to read it over and over again. Unfortunately, going over a novel can take days. I completed my third novel and I must say that there has not been a at least one point in time when I haven't despised all of them. Often times it's best to take a step back and just let it alone for a week or two. Come back with a fresh set of eyes. Leave it alone long enough and you might actually think, "Hey, this is pretty good."

So, which is preferable? For me it depends on my mood. I've got a file folder loaded with scraps of paper, each with story ideas. Some are for novels, others for short stories. If I'm working on a novel and get blocked, I jump into a short story. If I'm working on a short story and in the mood to expand, I switch to novel. All-in-all, I just blathered on to say do whatever feels right. As long as you're writing, it's all good.

http://davidfingerman.com/

13 comments:

Simon C. Larter said...

Er...does blogging and commenting count as writing? *shifty*

(Yes, Hart, I borrowed that from you. You don't mind do you?)

:)

Hart Johnson said...

Simon, I live to be your role model. And it's writing... sort of... but in the way that stretching and sit-ups get you ready for the big game...

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I can relate to the despisement of one's work!

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

I like the way that David shifts back and forth from short stories to novels to stay fresh and keep writing, even if he reaches a bump in the road.

Old Kitty said...

I enjoy writing short stories exactly because by the time I get to the end and am sick of it, it's over! LOL!!!! So so true!! Novels drag abit but it's so multifaceted too!! So both are very enjoyable to do!! Thanks for such a fab interview - good luck with the anthology and novel David!!

Thanks Naked Tart!!!
Take care
x

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I've written so many novels, I'm not sure I could write a short story anymore!

Hart Johnson said...

I am so much more comfortable with the novel--part of it is that I can't get to the point, but most of it is I LOVE the complexity and have trouble simplifying because I am wonky that way.

No, Alex! No despising!

Elizabeth--it's TRUE that it can be a nice way to stay fresh and keep the writing habit.

Jenny--teehee- A little like a relationship eh? Hear that? I just called you a PLAYAH...

L.Diane-you and me both... not that I've written TONS, though if I count my fan fictions, there are 10 novel-length works done... plus a few abandoned... just a more comfortable genre for me.

Helena said...

I really want to read Silent Kill -- it sounds great.

Maybe a compromise between short stories and novels are books like Little Altars Everywhere. Rather than a novel it's a collection of short stories, each told by a different member of a family at different times, but in the end you really get one long story with multiple POVs.

Anyway, I admire the way you can go back and forth from short stories to novels. For me, novels are enough of a challenge.

Helen Ginger said...

I haven't written a short story in a long time, but I can see how doing so could let you take a respite from a novel. They're two different genres, so you'd be working a different muscle.

Lisa said...

Thank you for this great post! I shift between working on a novel and short stories. I thought it might be a bad thing, a procrastination technique, but maybe it's not so bad after all. I feel like when I go back to the novel, I'm better at it.

The procrastination is what the blog is for.

Hart Johnson said...

Helena-It seems like I've seen some of those--where the stand-alone shorts tell a whole story--it's a brilliant idea for someone whose strength is shorts.

Helen-it IS a different muscle--good way to put it.

Lisa-HA! reinforcing to find your unhealthy activity is actually healthy--sort of like red wine, eh? (also in that you maybe shouldn't OVERDO it)

RaShelle said...

I'm always saying I'll NEVER write a short story, which means, I feel one coming on. =D Great to get to know you David. Thanks Hart.

david said...

Hi everyone - thank you all for stopping by and leaving comments. Sorry I haven't responded sooner ~ I was out of town and had no computer access.