Right, the baby’s asleep so I’ve got time for a quick writing update!
It’s been a better week than last week. I’m staring to get my head round the changes that are happening/coming and am getting things organised. This, thankfully, seems to have helped my writer’s block. Not that I’ve written much, but on top of my weekly limerick challenge and a poem about sleep deprivation (which was a visual poem too – a bit of an experiment) I’ve also written a short story.
Writing the story got me wondering though – when you write, how do you know how long the piece should be? Do you know at the start? Or do you just start writing and it evolves? What happens if it’s not obvious… if you come to a fork in the story-writing-road?
The thing is, with other things I’ve written I’ve had a sense, from the beginning, of how long they’re likely to be. I’ve written some flash fiction pieces recently and I knew from the outset that they would be around the 200 – 300 word mark. But this story was different and I’ve found myself writing two versions one of which is twice as long as the other! I’m currently undecided as to whether the snappy flash fiction version is better than the longer one which gets in a bit more of backstory and character development. Hmmm.
I experienced similar thing with a poem this week which could have had a fair few extra lines in. In the end, I decided they were unnecessary. But the story feels like a harder thing to judge. I probably just need to leave it for a few days and re-read and go with my gut. But it feels a bit like either decision could be right.
Does this happen with writing books too? Are there novels that would work better as novellas (or vice-versa)? Could some short stories even be expanded successfully to become whole books? Or does every story really have an ideal length and the trick, as a writer, is to find it?
Perhaps there’s no right or wrong. Maybe every story is as long or as short as we want to make it. But I have a feeling that in a truly great piece of writing no word is either wasted or lost.
I’m a long way from greatness though, so I’m still left wondering…