Stories have several aspects to them that make things interesting:
- The plot — what’s actually happening; the action. In a novel, there may be more than one plot (designated as A plot, B plot, etc.)
- The themes — these are the wider messages of the piece. They have big implications: man vs. nature, greed doesn’t pay, etc.
- The characters — these are the people in the story. Generally you will have one or two main characters and maybe up to 8 point of view characters in a third-person ensemble piece.
- The setting — people want to know where something happens and what it looks like.
Writing short stories, on the other hand, feels strange — all the parts of the story are there, but they’re a lot smaller, with one sentence often carrying the seed to all the parts: For example, “A woman hallucinates about the end of the world — or does she see visions?” With that idea/character/plot, I proceed with the story.
Short stories are harder for me because of motivation. I can’t dwell in a short story for months at a time like I can novels, so it doesn’t tempt me as much. I’m with the characters and the plot only for a short time, and I have to make the best of my time.