Rules Are Made to Be Useful

Philip K. Dick is quoted as saying (paraphrase) “In a short story, the characters exist to serve the idea. In a novel, the plot/story exists to serve the characters.”  Ok, so yes it’s a gross oversimplification and we can all think of exceptions (with all due respect to the Good Doctor, just about anything Isaac Asimov ever wrote, at any length). And it also seems to imply that short story characters, for lack of time, interest, and emphasis, are always going to pale against characters from a novel, which is nonsense on the face of it (see Fritz Leiber or Kelly Link or Andy Duncan. ’nuff said.).

And yet there is a grain of truth there. Continue reading