How big is my story?

My brain is already in sleep mode on the heels of a long day that started with a poor night’s sleep. With a promise of doing it all again tomorrow. Fingers crossed for more restful sleep and a smoother day.

When my brain is not closing my eyes in the middle of reading a paragraph, it’s mulling over one of my constant questions and worries about writing. How can I tell if my idea has enough legs to be a novel?

For now, I’m concentrating on writing shorter works. As you know, I’ve been participating in flash fiction writing challenges. I’ve also been working up some ideas that have been skulking about the brain parts for a while. One of those lurkers, though, seems to want to be a longer work.

Anyone have any thoughts about deciding or working out how long a story should be? Currently, while working on the shorter pieces, I’ve been taking notes and writing ideas and fleshing out important points for the hopefully longer story. Part of me wants to just go for it, take what I have and write til the story runs dry. It’s likely to be chalked up to practice in any case. Another part – the fussy, list-making, box-ticking part- wants to have a more systematic approach.

Which leaves me heading to bed, probably taking more notes and sketching more ideas tomorrow, and soliciting your advice. Thoughts?


My notebook

I bought a notebook to carry with me in grad school, when I was thinking about writing more but not actually doing it. For some reason, I still have this 1/3 full Moleskine notebook. It made the move with me between two different apartments in New York and now to my second (soon, third) place of residence in England. I dug it out this morning to facilitate note-taking and idea-jotting while I’m away from my computer.


After a quick flip through, it occurred to me that this notebook may be useful to me now in a couple of ways. Although I didn’t do any fiction writing back when I bought it, I did use the notebook. I wrote down phone numbers for babysitting jobs, addresses for sending items I sold on Etsy or postcards while I was traveling, and recipes. There are many random tidbits in that book, which give little glimpses into what was happening in my life.


The notebook is like a very sporadic, mini diary. And, now, those almost cryptic names, reminders, and appointments are great fodder for writing. Thinking about who or what I was referring to is tickling the little bits of my brain that come up with story ideas. More than that, imagining a similar diary or notepad for a character would be a great way to get a feel for his personality and habits.


Of course, there is also the original intent of the notebook. I wrote several pages of a new story in it today. I’m hoping that will become a regular occurrence. I’m still planning to use it to keep track of random details, as I previously used it. Perhaps it can be a mini incubator of current stories and those yet to materialize from the inspiring, mundane details of my life.