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Novel or Short Story: How Do You Decide?

Posted on April 1, 2016 at 3:50 PM Comments comments (1)

Do you ever come up with a great idea for a story that you just can’t wait to get started on? Chances are the answer to this is yes. The more enlightening question is how do you decide if a story becomes your next novel or just a short story? I’m not sure how many have pondered this but it’s crossed my mind more than once and only recently has it really stopped to make me think. Exactly how does a person decide what becomes a full-fledged novel and what becomes a short story? I suppose everyone is different but let’s go over some basic theories as to what may make a person decide what’s what.


(Length of an Idea)-

One obvious reason would be length. The amount and length of a story may be good enough to be a short story but you may not have enough of a concept to build off it to have it become a novel. The idea is there and it’s great but you feel it only goes so far and there’s only so much of it you can write. Sure a writer can build off it if they really try but there’s writing because “the idea is there” and forcing it and at no time should you ever force more than you have to. So in this regard length can play a part in an author determining what becomes a book and what becomes a short story.



Another way you may decide one over another is your writing to be featured in an anthology which in this case means your writing a short story. Now whether you already have a short story written that fits or your being asked to write about a certain topic chances are your writing a short story to be placed into an anthology. Depending on the content of what they want, this may also serve as a way to tease your readers for an upcoming book. You can always write a short story for your own or for an anthology and then later on write a book about the same topic, having the short piece serve as a prologue or teaser.


(The Idea Itself)-

This next way is one of the ways that I myself contemplate which is the idea itself. Let’s say I have an idea in mind for a story but while I like it I don’t feel it’s novel material..does that make sense? Okay let’s try the opposite, let’s say I have a concept for a story that’s so great that making it into a short story just doesn’t do it justice. The title I have in mind is epic and the concept is so good that I want to publish it for all to read and experience. Make sense? This one is basically saying that you feel your writing a story for either the full effect with every intention to make it a novel or it’s good enough to just serve as a short story.


So these are three ways to which I believe people decide as to what becomes a short story or a novel. Obviously I think about this hence the reason I wrote this post. I also wrote it because I’m curious as to how many other authors think about this and do any of the three. It’s one thing to write a story but it’s something else entirely to think about what you want to do with it and what you want to turn it into. So do you do this? If so how do you decide?