David Hough is a member of the writing class I attend weekly, run by Della Galton. I mentioned him in a post a couple of weeks ago - some of his novels are about to be republished by Cloudberry books. In this post, David writes about the inspiration for one of his novels - which I've recently read and reviewed here. David's known in our class as someone who sits down to write a short story and ends up writing a novel, and here he explains why that is, and why he prefers to write long rather than short. I must admit, I've really got into novel writing these last couple of years as well.
Why Am I A Novelist?
Ten years ago, when I was a very novice writer, I wrote a short story and entered it for a competition. The theme was a tale set around three meals. I had been reading a non-fiction book about life in the Amazon rain forest and set my story around three meals in a remote tribal village. It won second prize. In his critique, the adjudicator told me he was fascinated by the tribal people and he wanted to read more. What happened next? What became of the main characters?
Heartened by his assurance that I had created a credible tale of believable characters, I set about writing what happened next. Very quickly I was drawn into a much longer story, one that related what happened before those three meals as well as what happened afterwards. In fact I ended up with a full length novel. Ten years later it has just been re-released on Amazon Kindle as The Long Road to Sunrise.
In the process of writing that tale of rainforest life I discovered that I enjoyed creating the full novel much more than I enjoyed cobbling together the short story. I liked my characters more because I knew more about them. Inevitably, they were rounded characters whereas the short story showed only limited parts of their personalities. I think this was the point where I discovered that I preferred to write as a novellist, not a short story writer. Don't get me wrong; I have great respect for writers who can create a complete story with credible characters within the limits of a thousand words or so. I admire their work. But it isn't my forte. I need the broad canvas of a novel to say all I want to say, to tell the reader what happened next.
Today, I have had twenty novels published and I have enjoyed writing every one of them. You can read more about the experience on my web site: www.thenovelsofdavidhough.com. Each story is different – I have never found myself trapped in one genre – but each has allowed me to explore the lives of the main characters completely. Occasionally, I still write the odd short story as a way of keeping in with the writing group I meet with each week. But I have no illusions about being a competent short story writer. And that doesn’t worry me. Margaret Mitchell could never have written Gone With The Wind in the space of one thousand word. She needed the full scope of a lengthy novel to tell us how the Old South disappeared like a breath of wind, and how Scarlett O’Hara grew from a petulant youngster to a determined woman. A short story based on the same theme would have given us only one small aspect of the whole sweeping panorama she actually created. That’s what I like about novel writing. That’s why I class myself as a novelist.
And a very good novelist, I'd say. By the way, if anyone's ever wondered where the word 'blurb' came from, take a look at David's own blog here, where he explains the origin of the term.