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Sunday, February 06, 2011

Novels and short stories in mental health and running terms according to John McCaffrey

From Bang the Keys author Jill Dearman's interview with John McCaffrey at the Barnes & Noble site - found via Jill's site

JD: How is writing a novel different from writing a short story?

I also work in the mental health field, and I often think that writing a novel is like being in long-term therapy, where you lay on the couch twice a week and sob about the time your mother made you wear a bib to school (not that that happened to me). Short story writing, on the other hand, is like being in crisis counseling – you just need a few sessions to get through a tough period. I’ll spin another analogy - I feel you must approach the writing of a novel with the determination of a marathon runner, prepare for it with diligence, and then once the gun sounds fight to the finish line. A short story is more a sprint, and a good sprinter runs on nerve just as much as legs. I also think that unlike a short story you can meander in a novel, take more sidetracks, since the reader has made a commitment to a longer work, and thus will conceivable go with you in your fictional travels – as long as you invite them nicely.

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