Most of the work I’ve done has been in short forms (short films, short stories or short articles), but I want to move to longer form works. It has been difficult, but I have made some progress.
I’ve done four feature length scripts and started a couple of novelettes, but I didn’t feel I really understood the essential differences between long and short form writing.
“In a short story, the characters support the plot. In a novel, the plot supports the characters.” – Unknown
I came across this quote recently, but can’t remember who said it. I thought it was a good quote to remember. It was only later, when I recut Make ‘em Squirm, that I started to appreciate the point of the quote.
The YouTube statistics had shown that most people only watched the first minute of the nine-minute video. I felt that most of the “good stuff” was in the latter part of the video, so only a few people actually saw that.
When I did the recut, my goal was to get the viewers to watch more of the video. First, I split the video into 14 episodes and then I added a “teaser” at the start of each episode. I also changed the way I promoted the video.
What I realized was that in a longer form story you want to dwell mostly on the characters. In a short story, people don’t expect to get deep characters, so you can get away with superficiality. The role of the plot in a long form story is similar to the “teaser” in my video. It is to get the audience to watch long enough to get to the good stuff. In a long form story, the good stuff is the characters.
The beginning of a story should focus on plot long enough to get the audience involved. Then you can move on to your characters where you can start to say what you wrote the story to say.