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I'm Chetan. I won't say I'm a good writer, but I'm on the journey of becoming one. Okay here's the problem: I have a story in my mind and I really want to write it. But, I'm thinking of starting with some short stories and seeing where they take me. The confusion is, should I write the one in my mind (it's pretty awesome) as a short story or should I keep it safe and wait till I become better at writing?

In other words, the confusion is over what to publish: Should I write a good and important one (which has a lot of content for writing), or a new one?

  • @Chappo this post is older than the dup you link to. – Cyn says make Monica whole May 24 at 15:48
  • @Cyn why is that a problem? Yes, in 2016 it wasn't a dupe, but in 2019 there are 2 questions on the same topic and it really doesn't matter which was posted first. Making this one a dupe not only provides an alternative route to the more recent question but preserves the 7 answers here. The on-hold message misrepresents me: I VTC'd as a duplicate but I do not think it's off-topic: it's asking about how to plan/approach a sequence of writing projects. If I get the time, I'll take these issues to Meta. – Chappo Says Reinstate Monica May 24 at 23:59
  • Yeah it's more or less on topic (though it's really broad). I realize that my internal criteria for closing old questions doesn't always match other peoples'. I like there to be a higher bar for closing them. OTOH, there are a lot of really bad old questions here. And I don't even mean this one. @Chappo – Cyn says make Monica whole May 25 at 0:07
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Even as a beginner, I think you can work on two projects at once in a limited manner. Put almost all of your effort into the short story. But jot down a few notes about your ideas for the big one. You could do fun things like google search for things or places or people you might like to fit into the longer story. Don't do much more than that or it will overwhelm you.

I started the opposite way, starting with the novel length story and until last night, I wouldn't have suggested having two projects at once. I was in over my head with just one at first. But now after two months, I have a fairly high stamina for writing. I can put in several thousand words every day without fail. But I don't always want to work on the same story. I go crazy because I feel a strong urge to write, but instead of my story, I start posting like crazy on forums. Yesterday, I realized that I wasn't procrastinating and putting off writing, I was just desperate to write something that wasn't my story. So I made a blog I plan to fill with flash fiction. I don't know if I'll go public with it, but I think it will be much more productive than annoying everyone with my teal deer posts. And who knows? Perhaps I can expand the flashes into short sorties later.

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It really is up to you which you write. However, I would recommend based off of my experience writing a short story first and then if you are still feeling good about the idea try and expand it.

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Write the good story. Feeling your story is good will motivate you to finish it, to work through the problems you encounter, and to get better.

JK Rowling says she rewrote the first Harry Potter five times. That isn't five drafts, it is five rewrites, and then it took a year to sell. I presume she knew it was a good story, and that is what gave her the motivation to grind at it for so long.

Beginning writers (in my opinion) make two mistakes that you are talking about making. First, they think writing shorter stories will make them "professional quality" quicker than writing a long story. I disagree, I think the number of words you have to write to be "pro quality" is about the same no matter what you write. So you might as well be writing a story you love, the novel.

All the short story is going to teach you to write is a short story, and trying to stretch a short story to novel length is very unlikely to work. If you want to write novels, write a first novel. Learn about the three act structure, research typical book lengths for your genre, and put in your practice hours on a novel with characters you love, and a story line you love, and a setting you love.

The second thing they get wrong is thinking that first story they invent and love is THE story. No, when you finish that story, you will have another idea you just love. If you are going to be a novelist, you will likely finish a book every year or two; and every one of them should be a story you love.

A third thing beginners get wrong is thinking their first attempt must be marketable. It doesn't, not at all. Maybe you can sell it, but I encourage you to think like JK Rowling: You may go through a dozen drafts of your first novel before you think of it as "finished." But THEN consider it as a first "Super-Draft". If you wait enough time and read enough about writing and read other novels critically to see how bestselling authors do things, then at some time in the future you can take that same story you loved, and instead of redrafting it, take some notes on the scenes and plot turns you invented, the memorable ones (which means you should still remember them without having to re-read your Super-Draft). Then rewrite it, finding places to use the tricks you learned, so you produce a better "Super-Draft 2".

In short, don't think using a great original story to practice your writing means you will trash a great story. The idea is still 100% yours, if it is publishable then eventually you will publish it. Put it in a drawer, write other stories for practice so you get better, and if you still love the original and want to see it published, rewrite.

Operate on the assumption that having one great story idea proves you are creative and can have many more great story ideas, probably more than you can write. The first one is valuable, but not so precious it must be preserved at all costs. You can have another.

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Get the content out of your mind. That's the most important thing.

Also, combination/assimilation of such plots mayn't be a bad idea. Judd Apatow, in his book "Sick In The Head" explains to Garry Shandling that he saw working on "Freaks and Geeks" as a prequel to "The Larry Sanders Show," if Larry Sanders was in middle school first.

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Confusion is the loss control over one's mind, and thus one's writing thoughts. Don't be confused with any of your writing pieces. Whether you have a brilliant story in mind or want to start a short story, just pick up your pen without any delay and write down all your thoughts. Then see what magical words you will write :)

I love writing too. Any time a word comes to mind, I make a note of it and then continue writing. With that, I automatically create a short or long story. This is who a writer is. Simply, an outcome of his thoughts.

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Well I had a book that I really wanted to write and I wrote it. And then it was pathetic. But I came back to it a few years later and edited it to death.

The bottom line, write what you want now, because you might not get a chance later.

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My first instinct was to tell you to write the "good" story first. After all, you'll definitely need to rewrite, so there's no reason you can't practice on something you're really enthusiastic about. (After all, what does it mean to "save" an idea?) But I've changed my mind. Trying to write the "perfect" story can really get in your way, especially as a beginner. Writing a bunch of stuff you're not as emotionally committed to might be the better way to get in the habit of writing. There's some evidence that striving for quantity in artistic output actually leads to better quality than striving for quality.

I've found that approach useful personally. I spent the last year or so writing some more commercial, mainstream-oriented projects that weren't as substantial, and that were just "fun" to work on. That got me out of my goal-focused state and more into just embracing the process of writing. Now that I've gone back and taken on a project I've been thinking about for 15 years, I feel much more ready to do it justice without getting bogged down by my own expectations.

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