I can’t explain the how or why, but when I get a story idea I almost always know the approximate length the story will be. Often it is only a small moment or part of the story that I see, but even then it will feel like a novel, or a short, or a flash.
My feelings probably then dictate how I end up writing the piece, so I can’t entirely put it down to the communal unconsciousness of writing, for example I recently wrote a flash fiction piece (which will be published in Antipodean SF next month) which could easily have been a short story, or even a novel, but it felt like flash so I kept it under 500 words.
Having said that, I repeatedly saw one scene of the novel I’m currently writing, which has turned out to be the opening chapter, but at the time I had no idea what the story would be, how it would end or even who was in it. But I always knew it was going to be a novel.
So I will keep thinking it is the magic of this writing thing. The stories are already out there, they randomly choose a writer to discover them.
The exciting thing is that I can feel another novel tapping at the side of my brain, waiting to step forward. And what do I see; a small parrot darting over the top of a boy. I’m serious, that is what is haunting me. It’s what I know about that moment, about the boy and about the parrot that tells me it is a novel. I love this writing thing.