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17.03.2013 12:32    Comments: 0    Categories: Writing Story      Tags: richard a mccullough  story  length  guidelines  

This is one of those elements of fiction that confuses writers (particularly new ones). But you will notice these are simply different "formats" for the same thing: a story. And the factor that separates one from the other is "time" -- the time span of the story. The longer the time span, the longer the story; the more pages; the bigger the book.


That's really all there is to it.

  • Epic Novel -- spans many years, even decades
  • Long Novel -- large number of incidents
  • Short Novel -- smaller number of incidents
  • Short story -- only encompasses one event but must include a introduction to the event and the conclusion. Short stories and short short stories can span a few days down to a few hours.
  • Chapter -- This is a happening (something that happened) over a short span of hours or a day. The thing that happened was caused by something, it happened and the reaction to what happened leads to the next chapter. So, you have a sequence of cause, occurrence, and reaction which leads to cause, occurrence and reaction, which leads to... etc., etc.
  • Happening -- it looks like something's going to happen, character attempts to change or prevent it from happening, and his actions either succeed or fail, leading to the next happening.
  • Scene -- A chapter can have a small number of scenes. A scene is a few moments in time that take place in one location. If you change locations, it’s a different scene.

You can look at it this way.

• A story has a purpose -- to illustrate some point.

• The chapters build that case -- each is a brick in that argument.

• The scenes are statements that construct each brick.

• Each piece aligns with all the other pieces to create the impression of the whole. Nothing extraneous added and nothing important left out.


Considering how all these elements of fiction must fit together with each one influencing the other - is it any wonder that most "writers" finish little and publish even less without starting with a good story design?



About the Author


Richard A McCullough is the creator & editor of http://www.write-better-fiction.com the Fiction Writers source for Writing Better Fiction Faster and Selling More of What You Write.

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