Revising Short Story/Novella for Newbies

Timebender

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I just finished the first draft of a 30,000 word short story/novella (we'll just see how long it is in the final draft to decide). In hindsight, I already have some things in mind that probably need changing, but does anyone have some special advice for revising a story of that particular length after I read it through again?
 

ckatt

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I'm no expert but I've been in the same place myself at least once. I would say first you should decide what you want the story to be. Short stories are in the 2000-5000 word range, maybe up to 7000. So 30,000 is definitely in the novella range getting close to a novel. (50,000 and up)
So if you want it to be a short, then you'll need to do some major cutting. For that, you'll have to focus in on what the crux of the pieces is and what you want it to do.
Expanding it to novel length will require more work as well. Looking at the arch and deciding if it's complete. And if not where it needs to be expanded. And if so where you can add more scenes and detail that will enhance it.
Hope that helps. I'm sure there are lots of folks around here who can give you better advice than I.
 

tinkerdan

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First I think that it's too early to worry about length. First drafts are always rougher than the author thinks.
Go through carefully and tighten what you can and correct grammar problem.
If you have changes or additions do them around now then repeat the step above.
Set it aside for a bit and go through once more after taking a break from it.
The second time you should find more things to fix and tighten.
If you have the patience you should do this as many times as you can stand and then find someone to read it for you.
Give them a list of things you want them to look for and a means of leaving notes.
This can be done in word by turning on the tracking and balloons in the review tab.
Or print a copy with enough space for them to put notes.

When you get it back you may have to do a couple more edits through after considering their input.
 

AnyaKimlin

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Put it aside for a couple of months.

Then I listen to it - either using an ap on my phone or immersive reader on Word or yreader. First time I just listen - second time I take notes.

Change the font before reading and go through it.

Personally, I rewrite from scratch before getting to those stages but not everyone does or needs to.
 

Timebender

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I'm no expert but I've been in the same place myself at least once. I would say first you should decide what you want the story to be. Short stories are in the 2000-5000 word range, maybe up to 7000. So 30,000 is definitely in the novella range getting close to a novel. (50,000 and up)
So if you want it to be a short, then you'll need to do some major cutting. For that, you'll have to focus in on what the crux of the pieces is and what you want it to do.
Expanding it to novel length will require more work as well. Looking at the arch and deciding if it's complete. And if not where it needs to be expanded. And if so where you can add more scenes and detail that will enhance it.
Hope that helps. I'm sure there are lots of folks around here who can give you better advice than I.
Thanks for the advice! I should clarify that I'm not really worried about the length at this stage, I only mentioned it just in case anyone had advice for revising things specifically that length.
 

Timebender

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Put it aside for a couple of months.

Then I listen to it - either using an ap on my phone or immersive reader on Word or yreader. First time I just listen - second time I take notes.

Change the font before reading and go through it.

Personally, I rewrite from scratch before getting to those stages but not everyone does or needs to.
I've done that "change the font" thing before, but I never thought of listening to it before! Good idea.
 

sknox

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One fundamental difference between a short story and a novel is character. Novels generally have character arcs, short stories don't. Another is that a short story is usually about communicating a single emotion, whereas a novel takes the reader through a variety.

As others have said, 30k falls in the gray area in between. So, first I'd say you want to decide what your story is. Not how it gets defined, what category it's in, but whether it's about a character developing from A to B, does it center on a single emotion (e.g., surprise, horror, humor, etc.)?

Most of the editing and revision tasks, though, are the same. Continuity, pacing, proofreading, all the same.
 

Phyrebrat

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Just an alternate take on length of rhe work:

It’s good practice to aim for the typical word length for short story publishers, but I recently spoke with award-winning short story editor Ellen Datlow on this very issue. She said there’re plenty of publishers for all lengths. So I’d revise it as you are happy then work on your next project till a submission call comes that fits.

pH
 
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