Guest Post: Short Stories Vs. Novels, by Alethea Kontis

Banner by Andrea Johnson
Alethea Kontis courtesy of Lumos Studio 2012
Time for another guest post, and this one is featuring as part of the Book Of Apex 4 Blog Tour being hosted by Andrea at Little Red Reviewer. My guest today is the lovely Alethea Kontis, who’s got some thoughts on how writing short stories compares to novel-writing. Carry on below the cut for her post!

In Which Princess Alethea Discusses the Long and Short of It
Short stories or novels? What’s the difference? Which is better and why?
These questions have been bandied about the literary world for ages. I’ve heard just about every answer in the book (and every other book).
Some people love reading short stories. Some people love writing them. Some people don’t like either. The best thing about the planet we live on is that somewhere, somehow, you will be able to do and find exactly what you want.
I like both reading and writing short stories. In my life, I’ve created and sold a whole slew of them (a bunch of which are currently available in the collection WILD & WISHFUL, DARK & DREAMING). I have also written a few novels now, in a fairly successful young adult series.
I am not here to dig up the dead horse and beat it again. But what I would like to do is shed some light on how my personal perspective on the short stories vs. novels debate has changed now that I’m a published novelist.
If you had asked me four years ago–even three–back before Enchanted made its debut in bookstores around the world, I would have extolled the virtues of short stories complete with flowery poetry and decoupage art. I even wrote my favorite stories after signing the contract for that book: “Hero Worship” and “The Unicorn Hunter” and “Blood From Stone”, all fairy tale stories with some loose tie to the world in which my brain had been living for many, many years.
But once the novels came out, and my brain was pretty firmly entrenched in Arilland the surrounding environs, I never realized how incredibly difficult it would be to leave that headspace and play in a different pool for a while.
And more importantly…why would I?
I’ve always held a small disdain for authors who said, “Yeah, short stories are great, but for the amount of effort that goes into the worldbuilding, I may as well write a novel and get paid more.” And yet…now I find myself among their company. It makes me wonder why I turned my nose up at this statement back then. But I know the answer.
I was a coward.
Yup…I was a lazy coward who just wasn’t ready to sit down and put the time in to plotting out an entire story arc and spending three or six or nine months to make it a reality. Now–please understand–I am in no way calling every short story writer a coward. *I* was the one who didn’t have the cojones to shut up and write.
And now that I have…do you know what I want to do? I want to go back and tell the full stories. I want “Small Magics” to be “the first chapter of an amazingly successful series of novels”, as Orson Scott Card prophesied over a decade ago. I want to tell the world how “The Monster & Mrs. Blake” first met. I want to make a novel out of my very own Jack Tales, if such a thing is possible. I want to have more illustrated adventured of Dr. Harry Gnome. I want to turn the first few paragraphs of “Sweetheart Come” into a trilogy of Enchanted Wolf novels.
Novels have allowed me to make a living doing what I love. Now that I am not afraid to commit to the time it takes to do them, I want to rewrite all the stories I’ve ever created–and all the ones currently swimming around in my head–as a novel.
The trouble now is that there is only so much time in a day. With popularity comes the responsibility to put up a public face for the fans, including book tours, festival and convention appearances, YouTube videos, guest blog posts, and daily social networking.
So all these great ideas I have for novels now make me start to wonder…should I consider writing them as short stories? The problem there is, if I do, then I can’t just hand them over to my agent. I have to pound the virtual pavement again, reading submission guidelines and filling out spreadsheets. The rejections don’t even phase me at this point…it’s the grunt work required. I’m having a tough enough time of that without a personal assistant.
Do I love short stories? Yes. Do I hope authors keep writing them? Yes. Do I wish I could write more of them? Yes. Will I? Sadly, not as much as I used to. I treasure being part of an anthology right now. But keep an eye on the horizon…you never know what might show up in a YouTube video or as a piece of flash fiction in a guest blog post somewhere. Just because there’s not enough time in the day doesn’t mean I’m going to stop WRITING.
Do I miss having more time in the day? Absolutely.
Love and peace to you all, readers and writers alike,
Princess Alethea
(Who is typing out this guest blog post in the last 15 minutes of her birthday…because she’ll NEVER STOP WRITING.)
You can find Alethea Kontis at her blog, on Facebook and on Twitter

2 thoughts on “Guest Post: Short Stories Vs. Novels, by Alethea Kontis

  1. Happy belated birthday to Princess Alethea!

    and what a cool guest post! Only in the last few years did I really get into reading short fiction, I’d never really thought about what the author thinks about when writing a shorter piece vs a longer one. I like self contained short stories, byt my favorite short stories are the ones where I say to myself after reading them “okay, what happens next?” or “what happened before??” I always want the good ones to lead into novels!

    1. Yes! I’m relatively new to the world of short stories (and gosh, there are SO MANY) and while I’ll never jump ship away from reading novels, I’m finding a lot to like about them! Like you said, the best ones make you curious for more. 😀

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