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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Pointless Waffle

I thought I should clarify my statement in an earlier comment that Roadmaker is pointless waffle. Of course, I didn’t mean that the story is pointless waffle. It’s about the way you’re supposed to write short stories, as opposed to writing novels. Now that Roadmaker is destined to appear in both forms it’s given me pause to think about the way you go about writing either.

For me, writing a novel is quite liberating. There’s plenty of space to develop characters, build up background and ancillary points that support the plot and put in lots of descriptive work. I can write for my Roadmaker novel far more quickly than I do with a short story, because I feel freer to just get on with it. Of course there’ll be revising later, but I’m not worrying about that yet.

Short stories take more time though. You might write a few thousand words, but then you need to delete the pointless waffle, get to the point, develop a limited number of characters to a specific point and make sure that point has, well, has a point. Then go back and look at rephrasing to make it more succinct, possibly combining sections to eliminate slow episodes that add nothing. It all takes quite some time.

That leads me on to the Roadmaker short stories. The style of the saga is quite rambling. The plot develops at a steady pace, but detours off into irrelevant anecdotes at frequent intervals. Short stories are ‘supposed to have’ a limited number of characters, and only one or two POV characters. The Roadmaker stories have over 50 characters, and as many as 20 POV characters. I love it. The world of the Roadmaker is my favourite creation, and as is often the case with fiction, seems to work despite having ignored several rules.

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