Reply To: Videos On Writing & Self-Publishing and My Posts On Writing


Hi everybody. 🙂

I am “Dreams of Tanelorn”.

I just wanted to make it clear that because of the recent update to the forum software, all of my old posts and all the topics I made have been mistakenly attributed to a member called “maxiuomc48”, that member is not me.

So the list of videos in the very first post was put together by me.

And more importantly, the article/post titled “HOW TO WRITE A SHORT STORY OR NOVEL
OR THE DIFFERFENCE BETWEEN A SHORT STORY AND A NOVEL” in the second post was written by me as well.




by Dreams of Tanelorn

I remember reading an article by author Orson Scott Card about short story writing that I liked very much.

The article was in a Writer’s Digest anthology of writing advice. It has been a long time since I read the article so I may not get all the details correct.

Orson Scott Card wrote a short story and used one of his friends as a beta reader (test audience). His friend said the story was too long. I think “too long” is code for too boring.

Orson Scott Card rewrote the story and then once again let his friend read it. His friend said that the story was much shorter and if I remember correctly the friend liked the second version. Orson’s second version was actually longer in word count than the first version.

I can’t remember everything that Orson Scott Card said in the article, but I remember him saying a lot of events happened in the first version and that version covered a large segment of time in the main character’s life. And the second version actually had less happening and covered a shorter period in the main character’s life.

So here is my take away from the article.

Concentrate on one event and style the prose and dialogue for maximum characterization; and when you go for an “emotion evoke” you have to “write for maximum effect” as in try to evoke strong emotions from the reader.

“Emotion evoke” is my short hand for evoking an emotion from the reader. I just coined the phrase “emotion evoke” so remember you heard it here first!. 🙂

I call carefully choosing your words and situations for evoking deep emotions from the reader “writing for effect” or “writing for maximum effect”.

I just coined the phrases “writing for effect” and “writing for maximum effect” so again remember you heard them here first!. 🙂

The more disparate (not desperate) events you put in a short story, the more it reads like “history”, instead of reading like a “story”.

And since short stories are…well, short, you need to efficiently write the prose and dialogue by carefully choosing each word.

This advice also applies to longer works like novellas and novels, but with a longer work, you have more room for words and can be more relaxed about carefully choosing each word to maximize the efficiency of the writing for characterization and “emotion evokes”.

So concentrate on:
1.) One event that is central to the story.
2.) Characterization.
3.) Try to evoke strong emotions from the reader.
4.) Many short stories are also more than just stories, and send subtle messages by using symbolism and themes.
5.) Short stories are also likely to have plot twists or even just a simple unexpected turn of events at the end.
6.) Short stories usually have fewer characters than a novel.
7.) Short stories usually have fewer subplots than a novel, or the short stories will have no subplot at all.

All of the above can also be used for novellas and novels, but as stated earlier, there is more room in a novella and a novel due to the longer word count in each form, so efficient use of space isn’t as crucial as it is in a short story.

Story structures that work for novels, will also work for short stories, and vice versa.

Both short stories and novels will have a beginning, a middle, and an end.

Author John D. Brown uses PSR instead of beginning, middle, and end.

PSR stands for: Presentation of a problem, Struggle, and Resolution.

The beginning is the presentation of a problem or conflict. (inciting incident or call to adventure)
The middle is the struggle to solve the problem or conflict. (rising action)
The end is the resolution to the problem or conflict. (climax and denouement)

There are different ways to approach writing a short story or novel.

I would start by brain storming a character and a setting or world.
For example, let’s say the character is an elf. The elf lives in a fantasy world filled with magic and strange creatures.

Then I would start forming the plot by figuring out the end of the story.
For example, let’s say the end of the story is the elf defeats a powerful dark magician.

Then I would figure out the beginning of the plot.
For example, let’s say the dark magician wants to take over and become the ruler of the elf’s city, so now the elf must stop the dark magician somehow.

Then I would use any of the various story structures to fill in the plot points in the middle.
Or I would just fill in the middle by “writing by the seat of my pants” (pantsing), meaning I just sit down and make up the middle of the story as I go along.

Phrases I coined:
“emotion evoke”
“write for effect”
“writing for effect”
“write for maximum effect”
“writing for maximum effect”

Always remember, when you go for an “emotion evoke”, you have to “write for effect”.