Brick wall at 5K words

Hey all, been trying to write a novel for a long long time. At one point I was writing full time, then my life changed and it fell to the way side. I tried to pick it up again but was never happy with what I wrote. So I started another Novel as a way to get my mind thinking creatively again and hit the same wall, so I now have two novels, entirely different from each other, both stopped at almost precisely 5,500 words!

Since then, I have not been able to write anything on either. I really like the main protagonist in both of them so would hate to see them never fulfill their story.

I have considered short story writing as 5.5K seems to be the ‘stopping’ point for my creative process, but I have no idea if or how I am able to compress either of these two works in progress into a short story format.

Are there any suggestions on how to compress a formerly planned full length novel into a short story?

Have you taken a look at the snowflake method? I just started a new project a few days ago and it’s helped me. Currently at 20k words.

That looks interesting, will give it a go.

Thanks for the link!

I agree with Cinder6. The snowflake method is a good one, although the key essential is to plan and there are several similar systems for doing so. Many “seat-of-the-pants” writers mightn’t agree, but if you want to avoid wasting time on false starts or drafts that go nowhere, planning where your story is going to end up and roughly how it’s going to get there are both necessary.

But that doesn’t quite answer your question about how to compress a planned full-length novel into a short story. Personally, I wouldn’t try; it will always show. A full-length novel if properly planned is inevitably a string of episodes and I’d take one of them out and write it as your short story.

You say you have two completely different starts. Are you sure they’re incompatible?
Consider them, not as isolates, but possibly as separate parts of the same larger work. I did that – quite accidentally – and found a larger narrative evolving. Most of one part eventually fell away, but the exercise of looking for connections, in separate pieces with which I was already comfortable, helped me develop a clear outline for the better one.


The different starts are different books, different plots entirely. So a meld wouldn’t work, one is set in the mid 40’s and one is set in present day, both are entirely different topics and formats. To be honest the second attempt is pretty shoddy writing with a cliche for an opening, it was more an exercise to get me writing again.