Update on Reinventing Rita and writing in general

by Nancy Christie on November 19, 2011

in fiction, novel, writing process

I’m really behind posting on this blog, in part because I have finally found my way on my current project and didn’t want to jinx it. But now that I am almost at 20,000 words, and have a sense of what is coming next (although the specifics and details that surface during the writing process do surprise me!) I feel much more confident about the outcome.

You know, I never planned to write one novel, let alone work on a second one. My fiction writing career had, until Finding Fran, been all short stories and I just figured that was where I should stay.

But then I watched an interview with Ray Bradbury (one of favorite authors)  and he made the point that writers should start with short fiction before graduating to longer works.

He starts by talking about the “hygiene of writing so you won’t do anything wrong…The first that comes to mind … is the danger of writing novels to start … you could spend a whole year writing one and it might not turn out well because you haven’t learned to write yet.”

Instead, he recommends writing one short story a week, because “it doesn’t matter the quality … at least you are practicing. At the end of the year, you’ll have 52 short stories and I defy you to write 52 bad ones! It can’t be done … all of a sudden a story will come and it will be wonderful!”

And looking at my collection of short fiction, I think some of them are pretty darned good (and apparently a couple of literary pubs agreed since they made their way into the magazines!) But what I was also doing was practicing. I don’t think I could have finished one novel if I hadn’t done all that writing all those years.

Granted there are some novelists that don’t do short fiction, but others who do. It’s preference as much as ability that enables us to explore the different fiction forms. And while 10 years ago, I was a confirmed short story writer, I am enjoying (at least, most of the time!) the process of following a character around for a longer period of time (in Fran’s case, just a little more than a week, while Rita will be longer) and getting to know them better.

What about you? What’s your fiction preference? And why do you prefer one over another?

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