Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The Clash of Forms, or, the Novelist Contemplates the Implications of His Navel Lint

I've been thinking about this post for a while now. It remains to be seen whether it's worth the wait.

I think that most writers are either short story writers or novelists by inclination. I know some excellent short story writers who speak of novels as daunting, impossible animals. For myself, it's more the reverse; novels are comfortable ground. I feel like I have more room to stretch in a novel. Short stories are much more of a struggle. (Not coincidentally, this post coincides with my embarking upon another novel manuscript after working on short stories for the past 3-4 years. I guess I'm trying to figure out what I've learned in the interim.)

So what's the difference between the two forms? I don't claim to have a definitive answer (I doubt there is one), but first of all I need to say what I think it's not. I must confess that this was all brought on by something Jay Lake--an accomplished writer in both forms--posted a while back. I say this not to pick on Jay, but to cite an example of one school of thought with regards to the question of novels vs. short stories: the proportional school.

Jay sez:

I've never had a problem with plot. I've written novel-sized plots in 5,000-word stories, and I'm happy to posit on the flip side that Rocket Science can be considered to be a 65,000-word short story. . . . I have a problem with word economy. . . . [W]orking on a novel one is expected to diverge into detail, provide exegeses on character, setting, and so forth, and otherwise divert and entertain the reader for some hours rather than simply getting to the point as in a short story. . . . [A]s a short story writer of some practice, when I'm working on novels I still default to economy except by conscious consideration. Which leads to people commenting that scenes feel rushed, characters not fully developed, endings precipitate. It's not that words shouldn't be economical in a novel, it's that the reader's very experience of a novel is different. People rarely talk about "getting lost in a good short story." I need continue to find ways to write to novel pacing.


So while Jay acknowledges that novels work differently than short stories, that there are different expectations attached to them, the basic distinction he draws between the two forms is length. The implication of talking about 5,000-word novel plots and 65,000-word short stories is that the one is generally a boiled-down version of the other; that short stories are condensed and novels are bloated. I'm simplifying, but that's how I read this post. But while there are certainly novels that are over-long, in general I think it's the wrong way to approach the question. Jay may simply be saying that, at bottom, he prefers short stories to novels. That's entirely fair, and I'm not planning to argue the merits of one over the other. That would be ridiculous. But the mere fact that there are preferences points to the idea that there's more going on here than just a difference of proportion. Ironically, Jay himself says as much in response to Greg van Eekhout's question about what short stories do for us that novels don't (to which I'll return in a moment).

Jay says:

The arc of gratification is radically different. Shorts don't require *less* of a commitment, but by definition they require a shorter term of commitment. It's like the difference between an appetizer and a banquet. Either can be exquisite, or horrid, but they're substantially different instances of the same underlying process.


This I'm more in agreement with (although the appetizer/banquet comment is another proportional distinction). But yes, the arc of gratification is radically different. In fact, the forms are radically different.

In an essay titled, aptly, "Short Story vs. Novel," writer Greg Hollingshead says: "A short story is far less like a novel than it is like a poem. The primary difference between a short story and a poem is line breaks. . . . A novel is not a short story that kept going, though every short story writer dreams of writing such a story."

Now, I'm not going to pretend that I know a lot about poetry, but there are some obvious differences between a novel and poem. (Yes, length, but we've been over that.) Off the top of my head: experimentation is more welcome in poetry than in novels. A poem can be as much about what's left unsaid as what is said. Plot and character are not necessary in poetry; creating an emotional reaction is.

Not all of the characteristics of poetry transfer readily to their closer cousin (if we believe Hollingshead), the short story. A story usually needs either a plot or a character to succeed, and in most cases both. But otherwise that (very short) list more or less works. There's more freedom to experiment in the short form, if only because you're trying the reader's patience for a lesser distance. Short stories often work through implication of a larger world, a larger history, even if that world and history only encompass one or two characters. And while not all of us are as focused on the effect of our stories as Poe was, by the time a reader reaches the last line we hope to have created a reaction.

In some ways, I think that this is where my own pitfalls with the short form lie, because I tend to have a lot of anxiety about problematic concepts such as "theme" when it comes to writing short stories. In my novels I'm less concerned with being profound and more concerned with simple storytelling. This is not to say that I don't wish to say something in the longer form as well, but that in novels I feel more comfortable posing a number of questions for the reader to either consider or ignore, and in gradually building an emotional rapport between the characters and the reader. In contrast, I tend to either weigh short stories down with leaden (and often obvious) "messages," or let them float away for lack of any resonance at all. In some ways perhaps this is a matter of proportion after all, of meaning--a problem of condensation (in the short form) vs. dilution (in the novel).

A further complication, for me, is that I consider it most effective--as a writer and as a reader--to find meaning in story through characters. I find ideas much less interesting than people, or at least, beings. (That whole "science-fiction-is-the-literature-of-ideas" mantra makes me want to wring necks.) And it's hard (for me, at least) to write a really engaging and emotionally complex character in less than 10,000 words.

The aforementioned (and wicked talented) Mr. Van Eekhout confesses to his own preference for character-rich novels in a follow-up post to the above-linked query:

Here's a quick and messy summation of your responses. You like the succinctness and focus of short stories, not having to carry a story beyond its natural span because there are more flexible length requirements, you enjoy the pleasure of reading a story in a single sitting, the impact gained from focus and precision, the pleasure of a world and a character's life evoked rather than elaborated. You get satisfaction from creating a work in a span of days or weeks rather than months or years. You like the opportunity to experiment. You like the quick cycle of feedback and gratification.

I like these things, too. Very much. I consider myself a short story writer, primarily, and I love reading short stories, and I love writing them, and I can't be reasoned with, I can't be bargained with, I don't feel pity or remorse or fear, and I absolutely will not stop. Ever. Until you are dead.

That being said, I really do prefer reading novels. The stuff I remember reading and loving tends to be the stuff with characters whose lives I get involved with, and for that to happen, I usually need a few hundred pages. And, since one of the things that drives me to write is a desire to create stuff that I'd want to read, I'm stuck learning how to write novels.


It's perhaps worth pointing out--and I'm not sure if it's a function of our different starting points or what--that I find myself to be nearly the opposite of Greg, in that nowadays I mainly prefer reading short stories. I guess us writers is just crazy.

Now I need to make it clear that I'm not saying (and I don't think Greg is either) that short stories can't have vivid characters. I think, for example, of Kelly Link's "The Hortlak," which has vivid and unforgettable characters. Or of the myopic and empathetic protagonists of Carol Emshwiller's short fiction. Short, precise strokes can create portraits of surprising clarity. Sometimes short stories actually are characters, or vice versa--sketches, yes, but elaborated upon by the reader's imagination, cued by carefully chosen details.

And yet I can't help feeling that a well-crafted short story is usually about a moment in time. The story has a center, a point towards which each line of narrative inevitably points. There may be more; secrets, mysteries, a suggestion that the story continues after the words have stopped. The center may not be the most memorable part of the story or the most interesting to every reader. But it's the balancing point, the fulcrum upon which its impact rests.

Perhaps you disagree. But I wonder if that center isn't related to a difference that Scott Westerfeld highlighted in a post about writing advice gleaned from a collection of Raymond Chandler's letters. One of the excerpts Scott discusses is the following:

Letter to Dorothy Gardner, secretary of the Mystery Writers Association - January 1956

The trouble with most English mystery writers, however well known in their world, is that they can't turn a corner. About halfway through a book they start fooling with alibis, analyzing bits and pieces of evidence and so on. The story dies on them. Any book which is any good has to turn the corner. You get to the point where everything implicit in the original situation has been developed or explored, and then a new element has to introduced which is not implied from the beginning but which is seen to be part of the situation when it shows up.


Scott sez: "Beyond his anti-Agatha Christie snark, there is an excellent point . . . about the difference between novels and short stories. A lot of writers who excel at the story level don’t think to 'turn the corner' when attempting the longer form."

What this suggests to me is that novels don't have centers in the same way that short stories do. (Assuming that you agree that either of them have centers, whether they be Tootsie Roll or just a gooey flavor explosion.) If The Lord of the Rings were a short story, perhaps the center point of it would be Frodo and Gollum's struggle on Mount Doom; but to posit that scene as the center of the books (which are really just one long novel, let's face it) is completely missing the point. Or, if you're a J.R.R.-hater, to put Steerpike's climb to the heights of Gormenghast at the center of Titus Groan is to create an imbalanced picture. Both are crucial scenes: one carries the weight of hundreds of pages of prologue behind it, the other illustrates a crucial difference in perspective which separates Steerpike from the other denizens of the castle. But, to use Chandler's metaphor, many corners have already been turned, or are left to be. Tolkien's story is not the same as it was when Bilbo left the Shire, or when Frodo left, or when the Fellowship left Rivendell, or when the Fellowship left Lothlórien, etc. Peake's story has layers and accretions, many of them atmospheric, that are beyond the implications of Steerpike's rooftop survey. I've defaulted to examples from fantasy, because that's where I live. But I think that it's true of nearly all novels in all genres. (Even shorter ones.) The Catcher in the Rye becomes a much more complex novel when we meet Holden's sister Phoebe. The Maltese Falcon has as many corners as chapters--it's lucky for Sam Spade that he can see around them.

So what's the implication? That novel plots are more complex? Of course some are, but I don't think that's a necessity of the form. While it is perhaps true that the long form is more forgiving of complexity, there are still limits. Going back to Hollingshead: "One of the first things the writer learns is how amazingly little room there is in a good novel for extraneousness, or noise." Speaking from my own bad habits, I have a tendency towards the kitchen-sink approach; tossing in stuff I think is cool, THEN trying to make it work. Assuming you're working in a noisy genre to begin with--as speculative fiction tends to be--then I would say that the novel is a bit more forgiving than Hollingshead implies. But at some point you have to stop tossing new things in, and to make everything connect back. Too much, and you've got a hopelessly clogged plot. In fact, I would argue that on a proportional level, novels clog more easily than short stories. Some people say that a short story shouldn't have more than two or three characters; does that mean that a novel--which might be, say, twenty times as long as the short story--can bear the weight of between forty and sixty characters? What about fantastic elements, or murders? Same principle. At some point you're overcomplicating at the same time that you're diluting impact. It's the law of diminishing returns.

At this point I'm looking over all this and starting to wonder if I'm not just proving the point of those leery short story writers. Maybe novels really are harder. But I think that's a false conclusion, only a step removed from arguing the merits of one form over the other. So I'm left without a conclusion, just a lot of thinking out loud. But I'm curious what those of you reading this think of it all. Do you feel more comfortable working in one form than another? What do you see as the differences between the two? Are you a short story writer struggling with a novel, or a novelist fighting with the short form? Or do you think this is all nonsense, and stories just stories, each one a unique flower?

To be continued . . . ?

23 Comments:

Blogger David Moles said...

Man, you weren't kidding about the thinkiness, were you? Gonna take a while to digest, but: very interesting. Makes me think I might understand why novellas and novelettes are called what they're called. (And also, maybe, why I have so much trouble writing stories under novelette length.)

One thought that occurs to me is that there may be different things out there masquerading as "novels". One is what you're talking about, clearly (regardless of genre) in the tradition of the European novel; another, which I've heard argued should be considered a descendant of the (chivalric, gothic, etc.) romance -- as if a book could have a purebred pedigree, but never mind -- which might be more like what Jay's talking about, just a very long short story.

2:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your comment section is about to explode! Great post, man.

Like Mr. Moles above I've been thinking about masquerades, though more how the typical genre short story with plot points, peaks and valleys, and other rising actions, is really a classic novella (I'm sure others have made this point), the definition of which has more to do with a story structure that necessitates length - and not simply a high word count for the sake of it. "True" short stories have more in common with poetry, as you beautifully describe above. Effect and aesthetic response may be chosen over the novella's tension and plot. A keyhole view of a larger something. Closure of themes and images may be more important than resolution of plot. And in a short story, these affects can (should?) be achieved with great economy.

Anyway, just wanted to throw novellas into the mix, too. See what sausages come out. Again, thanks for the great post!

~barth

7:00 AM  
Blogger Dave said...

David, can you give me an example of the second type of novel you mention?

It's a good point you both make about novellas, which might perhaps be a truly different animal. Going to have to think more about that one.

10:03 AM  
Blogger haddayr said...

I am definitely a short story writer, as we've discussed, but actually your analysis of the differences is making me feel like perhaps I _can_ write a novel someday.

I cannot decide whether or not I prefer short stories or novels. I read more short stories, but that's because of time constraints.

I think what fascinates me about life in general are these intense, strong moments -- which is probably why I'm a short story writer instead of a novelist.

11:42 AM  
Blogger Jeremy said...

My primary worry with starting a novel is that I barely have the attention span to finish some longer short stories. I worry that I would get bored twenty pages in, over and over again, each time I start a novel. So I haven't tried writing one at all, even though I have a few ideas stockpiled.

I do think I agree with DMoles however-- maybe due to its length, there is more taxonomic complexity within the novel family, perhaps, than short stories. I think there is less genetic diversity in the short form than there is in the novel, maybe? Short stories might not be easier to write, but when it comes to certain structural decisions, you're limited more, and people who are paralyzed by too many options like me might find that fact comforting or helpful.

11:42 AM  
Blogger Dave said...

Haddayr, I think that novels can have those intense, strong moments, but they do tend to be diluted by everything else around them. Throughout this I've been trying to avoid framing this in terms of valued terms, but there are some things that I think short stories just do better, and one of those is that sort of "mugging" of the reader--the ability to deliver the gut punch and make the escape, leaving the reader to consider the implications. It's true that novels can deliver a similar blow, sometimes with more of an emotional impact, but in most cases it's decontextualized with respect to the reader. I mean that the events are further removed because the rest of the novel provides a sort of reality-cushion, if that makes any sense.

Jeremy, I think you may be onto something with the idea of increased "genetic diversity" at novel length. The structural limitations of a short story may even explain why it's so much more tempting to experiment in the short form, because rules--perceived or actual--tend to make certain personalities look for ways to break them.

12:06 PM  
Blogger haddayr said...

YOU JUST CALLED ME A MUGGER

12:35 PM  
Blogger Trent said...

Lots of interesting stuff to mull over. I have never tried writing a novel because the stories I imagine are short stories, novellas, or novelettes. I'm beginning to imagine longer stories but I'm fearing that they'll fall in that dreaded 40K-word range. Personally, I've wondered how much word lengths have to do with form vs. marketability but that's another topic entirely.

I see the difference as primarily one of focus; is a sweeping panorama of a beautiful garden any more or less nifty than a photo of a single flower?

Using your examples, I think Lord of the Rings could be divided into dozens of short stories: one focusing on Frodo's decision to leave the Shire; his decision to take the Ring out of Rivendell; his meditations on the possibility of turning into Gollum; and many others. If rewritten and properly framed, the reader would get some hint as to what came before and what might follow in the wider story, but that particular episode would focus on that one issue at hand.

I don't think most novels could work like that, LOTR included. Too many emotional ups and downs and it would be tough to establish the overall arc.

And for whatever reason, short stories just seem to be esoteric. Most non-writers I know occasionally read a fiction novel; very, very few read short stories. In fact, I've had a few people turn down my suggestion of reading Kelly Link's and Jeff Ford's collections simply because they, as a rule, don't read short stories. No reason why given beyond, "Dunno. Don't like 'em."

2:28 PM  
Blogger Elf Sternberg said...

Back before I had children I used to write at a pace that my friends called "freakishly fast," and I considered myself more of a coal miner, getting tons of crud out onto the page and eventually mining it into something useful. These days, I don't have the time or space to write like that.

That said, most of my novellas are still in the short story form; they never turn a corner as they relentlessly head toward a conclusion. Then again, most "novels" in the Romance category never turn a corner: boy meets girl in complicated circumstances, and the rest of the novel is about solving that complication, but the "sudden left turns" of a novel are all but left out.

I remember reading McKee's book on scriptwriting, Story (great book for any writer, btw), and he said that most great stories start with a false desire in the protagonist: Luke wants to get off the planet, then he wants to avenge his stepparents, then he wants to save the galaxy, and then he wants to save his father (while Chewbacca takes on the role of saving the galaxy), and so on.

4:26 PM  
Anonymous Meghan said...

I am mostly posting a comment to say that for someone who claims not to be intellectual you are an fabulous analytical writer.

It's funny, I wrote such short stuff at Clarion, 1. b/c I was under the influence of Carol something hardcore and 2. b/c i had no time! Maybe I need to impose time constraints again, as we edge into the 7,000 word territory on a regular basis.

And, as you know, I'm trying my damndest to write a book, and I think in some ways it suits me, I mean, I'm totally excited about sitting down and writing on it, whereas stories are always a bit of a struggle. But it's also real scary, b/c I can't hold it all in my head at once. I can think about the beginning, middle or end, but not about how they all hold together. That's how I think about my stories -- that moment they build to, their core. My book has no core, not in the same way. And that makes it harder to control, and harder for maybe teh control-freaky to write.

That said, corner-turning is my favorite part of fiction, it's thrilling when something takes a sharp left, and I hope to do that in my book, like, three different times, just b/c i love it. But I turn corners, I think, in my short fiction too. Or at least I try to. So maybe that's not just a novel thing, it's just way more intense in novels.

7:16 PM  
Blogger Lois Tilton said...

You're a writer. You get an idea. First thing you need to do is figure if this is a novel-idea or a shortstory-idea. It might be both: that is, there might be both a short story and a novel that can be born from this idea, but they can never be the same.

Failure to identify what the idea needs to be will lead either to the novel idea crammed into a short story, or the short story idea bloated into a novel - both forms are doomed, both are failures.

It is a thing that experience teaches, undergoing both these forms of failure.

12:02 AM  
Blogger Matt said...

hmmm...I'm not so sure I'm either a short story writer or a novelist, yet at the same time I am both...or just simply a writer. More specifically, a fiction writer. I like writing poems, short stories, novellas, novels and plays. But I get what you are saying about the difference of forms. Inspired by your post, I actually did an entry on my blog about short stories and novels (http://matthewjdoyle.blogspot.com)
So, thanks Dave. :)

6:20 AM  
Blogger Dave said...

Trent, can you elaborate upon "focus"? Depending on your definition, I'd say that novels can be extremely focused--I'm thinking of Proust, for example (who's so focused that I've found him unreadable), or of Faulkner, who spent entire novels analyzing one plot event. I don't think that's what you mean, but I'm not certain.

I think you're right that the LOTR as a short-story cycle would be an interesting experiment, possibly even a workable one, but the end result would be an entirely different animal. It would be interesting to see someone attempt something like it, though.

And yeah on stories being inaccessible to some. Although I've noticed an opposing trend among people who don't read very much in general; people who'll subscribe to a couple of magazines and read a story every night before going to sleep.

9:47 AM  
Blogger Dave said...

Elf, I'm interested in the "false desire" trope you mention. I wonder if when McKee talks about "great stories," though, he isn't talking about epics, or something like an epic? The Godfather would fit with that idea; Michael starts out wanting to protect his father and gradually becomes him, only worse.

9:50 AM  
Blogger Dave said...

Meghan, thanks, but you'll note it took my about six months to produce an analytical piece :-P

I think maybe that the difference between turning corners in short fiction as opposed to novels may be that in short stories the turn can be that center or core that we're talking about--in the novel it may be an important moment, but ultimately it's one of several, whereas in a story there isn't tons of room to turn a lot of corners? Not sure if that makes sense.

9:54 AM  
Blogger Dave said...

Lois, yes. Although I have to say that, in conception, while I've mistaken short stories for novels, I've never mistaken a novel for a short story. And I'm not sure why that is. It's not simply the size of the story, although that's part of it. It may have to do with characters, since I like to have a bunch to play with, create sort of a mosaic.

Hm.

9:58 AM  
Blogger Dave said...

Matt, glad you found the post thought-provoking! I like to work in different mediums, too; but I do think I'm a novelist at heart. I'm trying to figure out why that is.

9:59 AM  
Blogger Michael Jasper said...

David, this is a fascinating discussion, and you've thrown out a ton of great nuggets of wisdom here. I've had much more success with stories than novels, and I think it's due to endurance -- novels overwhelm me, and I don't put forth the same amount of iterative fixing I do with a story, simply because it's easy to go over and over a 5k story versus something 20 times as long.

Stories tend to stay under control better, and maintain intensity, because of their size.

Also, not just size-wise, but concept-wise, stories are easier for me -- they're more about intense life moments, like Haddayr mentioned, versus an entire LIFE, which novels often focus on.

I really liked your idea of stories having a "center" -- I used to play a game when I was critiquing of story of finding the one sentence that summed up an entire story -- the heart of a story. In a story, you can find this. Good luck finding it in a novel!

All that said, I find I enjoy working on novels more. Why that is, I'm not sure... Maybe because I've proven to myself I can "do" stories, so I'm moving onto the bigger challenge of a novel.

And thanks for the link to the Hollingshead essay -- that's next on my To Read list!

10:20 AM  
Blogger Trent said...

Hmmm...maybe focus isn't the right word. "Scope" is maybe more appropriate. Even novels that are interested in exploring a single idea usually have to do it from a variety of angles and perspectives which accounts for their length.

My thinking's stuck on the photography analogy. I see novels as panoramics, shorts stories as macro photography. Neither is inherently "better" than the other (even though panoramics take in more scenery) and both require technical skills to do properly.

8:50 AM  
Blogger Dave said...

Michael: I'm down with your comments about revisions. Revising a novel is exhausting, not least because of the amount of information that needs to be managed, story-wise; remembering when this character learned that bit of information, the ways in which these characters have interacted, etc. I tend to do a lot of back-combing through what I've written in an attempt to keep everything consistent. The worst thing, of course, is when you have to change something, particularly something like an early plot point--it impacts everything that follows, and the fixes can be quite tedious.

BTW, I'm very interested in the baseball novel you mentioned on your blog; I've got a baseball novel of my own on the back-burner, and I love baseball books. Good luck with it!

Trent: scope is better, but . . . I think it's really the photography metaphor I'm not sure I agree with. Can't a novel be like a minute study of one blossom, or one blade of grass? I wonder if the element I'm thinking about is time. If a short story is a moment, with implications of past and future, then maybe a novel has to be in motion?

10:38 AM  
Blogger Jed said...

What you said about turning a corner makes me think of two things:

1. David Siegel's Two-Goal Structure (later expanded into the Nine-Act Structure) for movies; the idea that somewhere between the halfway point and the end of the story, the protagonist suddenly learns that they've been pursuing the wrong goal.

2. Heinlein's novels; sometime in or after college, I realized that almost every one of Heinlein's adult novels that I'd read contained a total upheaval almost exactly halfway through -- a complete change in what the story's about and where it appears to be headed.

As for novel structure in general, I'm finding that even as a reader (much less as a writer), I just don't have a good grasp on how novel structure works. As a short-story reader, I often feel like novels are wandery and unfocused, even brilliant and highly acclaimed novels, even novels that I love. My usual example is Helprin's Winter's Tale, which has an utterly brilliant short story in the middle, masquerading as a chapter, that's almost entirely unconnected to the rest of the book. Despite that chapter being one of my favorite pieces of writing in the universe, it offends my sense of structure; it's as if the author paused in the middle of an adventure novel to, say, give an exegesis about whaling. :)

...Another approach to all this: I've heard it suggested that a short story may derive from the tensions among two or three basic ideas, while in a novel, there may be more like five or ten ideas. That's obviously a simplification and generalization, but I think there's something to it. In other words, it's not just that a single idea is either a short story idea or a novel idea (though I think there's something to that as well); it's that the number of ideas and ways they interact can be larger in a novel. A short story that starts with too many different ideas may feel cluttered; a novel that starts with too few may feel sparse.

And I think some of what I'm saying here is tied in with the quote from Jay that you started with. I actually thought he was saying that the difference is not just a difference in length; it's also a difference in pacing, in expectations, in experience. Most of the novels that I read when I was a kid were "short-story like" in various ways (like what Jay says about his book); so novels that are full of digressions and eddies and diversions and subplots often end up feeling poorly paced to me, simply because I'm trying to read them like short stories. I think I don't really know how to read a novel.

4:40 PM  
Anonymous SarahP said...

Thanks for prompting all these interesting comments, Dave!

For me, the novel/short story difference is all about character. I'm thinking about the early novel, as it was developing in 18thc England. It's big difference from the "Romance," I think, is in its focus on character rather than on, I guess, adventure. So your big 18thc novels are Robinson Crusoe, Clarissa, Tom Jones and Pamela and Sir Charles Grandison and Joseph Andrews, and (fudging dates a little), Emma and David Copperfield and Jane Eyre. In a big fat novel, you get to know a character really, really well. Take Clarissa, for example. By the time you get to the tragic end of that unabridged bookstop you by god know the woman, and your heart breaks for her. A strand of this kind of novel is still woven through lots of novels today--readers get to know characters very well, and enjoy that relationship.

Short stories, on the other hand? How can you get to know somebody, and care about them, in just 5000 words?

8:22 PM  
Anonymous SarahP said...

Ugh, I want to edit that post to get rid of the extra apostrophe.

8:23 PM  

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