I'll start with novels. Having written two, and with several more planned out, I can tell you that novels are all about the long game. You're not just telling a story, you're building a world...sometimes literally, if you're in the sci-fi biz. You're learning all about the characters, their lives, the friends, the enemies, and the circumstances. There are novels which cover an event. There are novels which cover lifespans. There are novels which cover generations. A Game of Thrones, anyone?
Short stories, on the other hand, are vignettes, slices of life that may encapsulate mere minutes of time. Short stories are more visceral than the novel, usually. They begin in media res, in the middle of things - or should - and there is often little room for explanation. The situation is what it is. You supply your own interpretation.
Comics are their very own kind of beast; a weird-ass combination of novel and short story, like both, and unlike either. Like novels, if your comic is a serial, you have the latitude for world building. You can pace yourself, really get to know the characters. But like a short story, each issue must also be a self-contained, fully-satisfying episode, even if you end it on a cliffhanger.
But a comic is unlike a novel or a short story for the simple reason that images are telling at least half of your story. Images and words must compliment each other. And you have to decide when and where to use each in order to more effectively tell your story. You don't want to over-explain, when a simple image will do. And you don't want to provide half a dozen images when you can explain what's happening in a sentence or two. It's a delicate balance, and the road to hell is paved with the good intentions of those who embark upon that journey.
The takeaway is this: if you primarily write in one of these formats, just be aware, when you write in one of the others, of what the differences are. I've seen comic book writers put out a novel that felt stilted and awkward, because they were writing as comics writers, and not novelists, and novelists, trying to include all the plush, sensual description in a short story, and thus robbing the story of its punch. Keep these things in mind, and you will do well. Read extensively in all types of stories, and you'll be able to get a handle on how these stories are told, and you'll more easily make the transition.
It's all part of the business, and the more you know, the better you'll do.
Until next time,