Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Apples Aren't Oranges

Typically when we have two different products, we usually say we can't compare the two because it's like comparing apples to oranges--an expression meant to signify that they're entirely different animals and different standards should be used. In fiction, this can apply to a variety of circumstances: comparing a romance text to a horror text, comparing a short story to a novel. I bring this up because as much as we know that they're different, there are nonetheless circumstances when we compare two dissimilar subjects (and this occurs more often in real life). I wasn't the first one who noticed it but in the upcoming Gawad Likhaan Contest, why are short stories--or rather a short story collection--in the same category as novels? Granted, there might be budget constraints in terms of finances for the awards but I find such a category more in favor of the former than the latter. Both might have the same length and while there are elements of a short story that intersect with that of the novel, there are also other factors which make them completely different such as pacing and characterization. I find the advantage with the former mainly because you have several opportunities to impress the judges. Let's say in 200 pages, you have 10 short stories and while there might be a weak story or two in there, if the other 8 short stories are terrific, then you're more likely to win against that lone novel which has only one chance to impress you. Granted, the novel can pack more themes and subject matter into the story, but it's not really the same as ten stories that tackle a different theme and subject matter each, is it? I'm not saying that the novel can win in such a category. It can but it must really be a very, very outstanding novel to do so. Or let's say the judges give preferential treatment to the novel--what happens to the short stories submissions then? Having said that, I'm nonetheless grateful we have such competitions.

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