As I’ve started to focus again on finishing Burning Skies and have set The Orc War Campaigns aside for the moment, it’s brought up the question that I’ve asked myself on more than one occasion: which do I prefer writing? Short stories or novels?
When I first started writing, I was all about novels. My dream was to write Star Trek novels, but when I discovered I had to be well-known to be asked to write Trek, I started focusing on my own stories. And I started the first novel of what was then called Star Dragon Legion.
I know I’ve mentioned it on my blog before, but that first novel was lost to a computer virus before I knew well enough to backup my files. Instead of starting the novel over, I decided I wanted to flesh out the characters more, and I knew I needed practice.
In 1999, my first series of short stories began, with the fan fiction Star Trek Dragon. Simultaneously, I began writing occasional short stories set in the Star Dragon Legion universe. The goal was to focus on improving my writing and getting near-immediate feedback on experiments in my writing style.
I know I’ve given this history before, so I won’t bore you all with a retelling ;) But I honestly don’t remember a whole lot about my experiences writing those first couple novels. And additional attempts at writing novels back then fell flat on their face. I hadn’t found a method that worked for me…yet.
Complexity and Expanse
With each passing season of Star Trek Dragon, I started to turn it more towards a serial story. I even began planning out each season in a method very similar to what I now do for planning out novels (click here to read more about that :) )
I found that I liked that format more, a long-arching story with multiple chapters, multiple story threads all converging into one at the end. Not to mention that, without even planning to, stories I wrote throughout the entire series all came together in the final season, and everything became connected.
And that’s just it, with novels I can spend more time on characters, flesh them out more, spend time expanding on the plot threads, and interweaving them all. A single novel can be much more complex than a single short story.
But then…in a way, isn’t a novel just a bunch of short stories interconnected? Chapters in a novel, episodes in a series of short stories…
So then the question remains, which do I prefer?
Going Back to Short Stories
As I’ve written The Orc War Campaigns, which has been my return to the short story realm, I find that I am on the fence about which I prefer. I didn’t spend nearly as much time developing TOWC as I do on novels, and that may be skewing my experience with it.
But at the same time, especially once I stopped including Cardin and the characters from the novels in it, I was able to really start fleshing out Amaya, Zerek, and Arkad more. And that has been fun. Imagine if I could spend time writing 20 or so episodes, we could really get to know the characters!
Release Schedule is the Killer
As a self-published author, in reality I only need to publish stories as often as I choose. I don’t have a publisher giving me deadlines. Never-the-less, I do have fans that want stories, and I do not want to disappoint them. Not to mention people will lose interest if I don’t publish stories regularly.
So even as an independently published author, I have deadlines. And writing The Orc War Campaigns has been fun, but the release schedule was exhausting.
And this is where I find I prefer writing novels. For the remainder of The Sword of Dragons, I’m essentially giving myself a one year release schedule – every year, I release a new novel. One year to focus on a single story. Granted a longer, more complex story, but that time spent on one story I think shines through.
(On that note, I do intend to put The Orc War Campaigns through the same rigorous post-writing process once all of the stories are written. The final product, to be published as an anthology, will probably be much more refined than the free, online versions :) )
So there you have it, my friends. I love writing, and reading, novels more than short stories. I enjoy both, but that is my preference. What about all of you? Which do you prefer? Why?
Thanks for reading!