I’ve been having trouble with the novel and that has made me rethink what I am trying to do. The fact is that I appear to be (at this stage of my skill level) unable to write a great length. Moreover, I am such an ardent fan of the art of the short story, that it seems to hinder me in subtle ways when I attempt to write at greater length. The novel itself is well plotted, and has a good collection of characters, but I find myself writing a lot of "filler" that is completely unnecessary if it were in the short story form. Nevertheless, I think I have a solution.
The outline of the novel lends itself well to a series of short stories. I can identify at least 9 short stories from what I have outlined. There are numerous advantages to this, which I list below (more to convince myself than anything else):
- I am more comfortable with the short form
- This gives me at least 9 stories to write this year (whereas I typically write two or three stories in a eyar)
- This allows me to focus on improving myself as a short fiction writer
- I can avoid the filler
- I can write the stories from different view points without confusing the reader as to which viewpoint the story is being told
- There are other stories to tell that can ultimately fit in here.
- This allows me to break a very big project down into numerous smaller projects. For a novel, it would take months, if not a year for me to complete, at the end of which it would take months or years while going from publisher to publisher. As 9 or 10 short stories, the first could be completed relatively quickly (as compared to a novel) and hit the magazine circuit while I was working on the second; then two stories would be "out" while I work on the third, etc.
- I have The Martian Chronicles or Foundation Trilogy in mind, when I think of series of interconnected stories.
I had thought of all of this last night, long before I read the announcement that F&SF was going bimonthly. But this is yet another reason for focus on short stories. Although Gordon Van Gelder assures that this puts the magazine in a better position, as a writer, this can be as frightening as a potential job loss. Who knows if ANALOG and ASIMOV’S will follow suit. I need to write stories and get them out while the major markets for the stories still exist.
I have the first two projects in mind:
- "Cat’s in the Cradle" (working title), is unrelated to the novel, but might fit within thesame universe and framework set up in the stories. This will be what I hope is a 3,000 word story that allows me to attempt a touching mixture of hard science and human need.
- "Rescue" (working title) would be the first story in the series of interconnected stories that I would take from the novel outline. It would set the framework as well as be (hopefully) an exciting story in it’s own right.
"If By Reason Of Strength…" has been as ANALOG now for 35 days. I suppose it could come back any day now, but my very short term goal is to have a draft of "Cat’s in the Cradle" finished before it comes back. I’ve already got the structure of the story worked out in my head and I really can’t see it being a long story. To me, it is a kind of response to Ray Bradbury’s "The Rocket Man", which is one of my favorite stories, and also serves as my Platonic image for the "perfect" short story. Stay tuned…