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once wrote a short that had this as the beginning sentence: 'The toaster knew he was disliked by the refrigerator and said so to the oven,

That reminds me of a story I read in Fantasy & Science Fiction (F&SF) 20 or so years ago. I can't recall the title, but possibly Disch's "The Brave Little Toaster"?

Speaking of which, since it later became a Disney movie, and tying in the mention of "Ender" several messages back, (we) aspiring novelists shouldn't forget that a lot of books (and series) first saw life as short stories or novellas. Examples that come immediately to mind are Card's "Ender's Game," which originally appeared as a story in Analog Science Fiction and Fact magazine, McCaffrey's stories "Weyr Search" and "Dragonrider," which also appeared in Analog and gave birth to her popular "Dragonriders of Pern" series, and even Keyes "Flowers for Algernon," which he expanded from a short story he published in F&SF. And let's not forget all of the short stories that later became movies (several of Philip K. Dick's stories, for example).

There may not be a lot of money in short stories, but they might be a good "wading pool" in which to get your feet wet and hone your skills before diving into the deep end of the novel pool. And -- particularly in the SF and mystery genres -- there's ample precedent for taking two or three published short stories involving the same set of characters and weaving them into a novel.

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