They’re similar in terms of intensity, but the novel requires more stamina. A short story is a song. A novel’s an album.
Short stories are unforgiving. There isn’t much scope for divergence. The novel comes with a different set of demands: story engineering, modulations of tone and tempo, resolution.
For me it’s usually a title or an opening line or maybe a fragment of the narrative voice. Character and story tend to grow from that. And there’s usually some sort of innate mystery or riddle that resists explanation.
Mostly mood. A lot of times I’ll write a scene or a story because I’m attempting to replicate the feelings or images inspired by a piece of music. Throughout the writing of my second book I was listening to a couple of Doors songs, ‘Summer’s Almost Gone’ and ‘Yes the River Knows’, and also Springsteen’s Darkness On the Edge of Town album. And I was recording with the Revelator Orchestra throughout, so a lot of the music we came up with looped back into the writing.
I usually know before I begin. Although sometimes I’ll write what I think is a short story, only to find it wants to integrate itself into a longer narrative. The book’s the boss.
Short stories are more about capturing a protagonist at a moment of great change. The event defines the character. With a novel, you live with them for a few years, watch them evolve.
I finished the second novel about a month ago, so I’m going to read and make notes and let the bucket fill up for a bit before deciding what next. Regarding variety, I love Stanley Kubrick. Every film was completely different, but each one defined its genre – noir films, war films, period dramas, black comedies, sci-fi and supernatural yarns.
Only that I’m very much looking forward to the festival.