Dec 9, 2022·edited Dec 9, 2022Liked by Nathan Schuetz

A workaround for the "why make the experience short if you have a pleasant place" dilemma: you can write multiple short stories set within the same universe. Asimov's 'Robot' and 'Foundation/Empire' stories did this. Another example that comes to mind are Fritz Leiber's Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser stories. Oh, and Cordwainer Smith's "Instrumentality"!

I tend to do this with my own writing. I do use different settings, but everything is connected--sometimes obviously so, sometimes not so much. And I also use many recurring characters.

Regarding horror, I've written a few pieces that some might call horror, though personally I prefer to label them as 'dark fantasy' for the same reason you mentioned. It's not so much about fear or gore, as it is about mood and creepiness. A lot of what I write tends to be dark, though, even when I'm doing epic fantasy or sci-fi, I'm not sure why. Maybe because I feel darkness makes for better stories? :D

But usually it's the idea itself, the initial prompt, that will decide what genre the story is ultimately. So if I have any control over this, it would be more on a subconscious level.

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I have a setting I'm trying to work most (not all) of my stories into; to create that sort of inter-connectedness. Gradually, as I publish more of it, I hope that this will create a nice sense of continuity and context. But I'm new to this, so it's been weird:

(so much of these stories are in various stages of editing: a novel, a novella, a folder of short stories...)

I found that connecting everything was leading me to put a lot of pressure on the writing itself. Because each piece has a legacy beyond the story itself, every story feels like it has higher stakes than it otherwise would. Like I don't want to add something to the 'canon' unless it's good -- so it had better be good!

This isn't stopping me, it's just a weird feeling that has come up surrounding this approach. It definitely makes me appreciate better when other authors are able to pull it off

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I focus on plot and everything else falls into place, a bit like the pieces of a puzzle. I just have to make sure I don't mess up a timeline or something like that. I do keep a glossary of all the terms I make up--this also includes names of characters, planets, important items, species, etc. And I have a separate spreadsheet for chronological events. Stuff like that helps.

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Unity of effect sounds rather dull to me. I would want at least tension or contradiction of effects. But more than that, since a story is a progression, I want a progressions of effects.

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I label all my stories to be horror, or creeping horror for marketing reasons. People who purchase horror often expect dark fiction.

My short stories are almost all dark fiction. I think it's much harder to pull off real scary moments in shorter form, though I've managed some chilling endings to my novellas. I think it's because people need time to become invested in the characters before they can care for them.

It's really hard to write a good splattergore short story for example. Sure, you can make people wince but if they aren't invested in the character then it's just a vignette.

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