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Short Stories inside the Novel

Short stories and novels are generally considered two separate genres.

Sometimes, they are at different ends of brick and mortar establishments like one separates cats and dogs. Yet, I think sometimes they can be very closely related.

You know what a short story is, right? A fictional tale generally fewer than fifteen thousand words, give or take.

A novel is a long fictional work that may not adhere to a specific word count, depending on who you read.

When you read a novel, there are several characters that move toward the same direction. They are not alike; they chose different paths and can have various motives. They are all central to telling the story. Each character has a beginning, middle and an end toward the plot of the story, with valuable information the reader needs to understand the scenario.

So, why not create the novel as several short stories meeting in the end? For example: there was an explosion in a fast food restaurant. There were six patrons at the time of the event. Each patron had a different route of circumstances to their destination:
• John had an argument with his lover and can’t get a home cooked meal.
• Jane forgot to take some meat out of the freezer and her hungry family waits for her.
• Sam decided to feed some homeless people down the street dollar hamburgers.
• Denise and Danny burnt dinner to a blackened crisp.
• Henry drank too much whiskey at the bar across the street and needs to sober up.
• Karen wants to treat herself because she lost five pounds.

They all have hunger in common but not for the same reason. And they will all share an experience together.

The final story will tie them together to endure a situation as it unfolds. They will all leave with something, hopefully memorable but possibly tragic.

This could serve as an interesting character development. You create the characters to their fullest potential and see how they interact with one another during the event.

How many surprises do you see happening? Is human nature this predictable?

I think this is what novelists do. They may not tell themselves to write a collection of stories with a common end but they do. They weave in serendipity, lateral thought and synchronicity. All of this has a common goal or plot moving through it.

The next time you read a novel, try to single out one character and see if that character can tell the story. Could they arrive at the closing scene by themselves? Did they really need that collection of geniuses or misfits to guide them there?

This is just a thought and possibly a test.

Give it a shot. It could be a novel adventure.

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