On my Short Stories

I’m a big fan of a well-told short story.  I think that it’s the limited word count that impresses me the most.  When you can tell a good story in under 2-10,000 words, that’s just magic.  It’s even more impressive when you see someone write a story in even less.  I still get chills from the six-word stories: “For sale, baby shoes.  Never worn”  from Ernest Hemingway is just amazing.  My stories tend toward much longer word counts by comparison.  The Toothfairy clocks in at about 2800-ish words.  Art and Artisans (the whole thing) clocks in at nearly 6000.

This is where the blog becomes challenging.  I would love to put the entirety of Art and Artisans on, in one shot.  But the issue is: it’s a wall of text.  Most blog readers would rather not see a wall of text.  This – to answer the question I received on the matter – is why I’ve broken the story into three parts.

Is there a magic upper/lower limit for a word count on a blog post or page?  A point where the reader is just overwhelmed?  Perhaps.  Well until I hear differently I’ll try to keep my posts to sub-2000 words.

–CL

The War-Weary Saga – Book 2

So I have been working on book two of my story.  The title is The Broken Pack.  It’s a good title.  I like good titles.  I like a title that makes me want to understand why a particular name ended up tied to a story.  Through the Looking-Glass (by Lewis Carroll) is a good example; just an excellent title.  The Ocean at the End of the Lane (by Neil Gaiman) is another great title.  Both are books I love.

At this point, I’m about done with all of the “core” work for book 2.  I need to go back over it and pare it down from it’s current 68,000-word count to a more reasonable novella-short novel length of ~52,000 words.  Much of what will be cut will end up in the trash can, but some will slide into book 3.  At this point, I would say that I’m about 75% finished with book 2.  Here’s hoping that I learned a little something writing the first book so that the final 25% doesn’t take an additional two years of revising and editing to knock out.

On Short-form writing

I love short-form writing.  I like reading short stories and such. Writing in the short-form (short stories, novellas, and novelettes) is challenging and very fun.  I typically write a short story when I have writer’s block.  Instead of beating my head on the desk wondering how to make my imaginary friends play with me, I just create a new idea and write that instead.  Some of these short stories are terrible.  I mean awful, unfit for human consumption.  Vogon poetry bad (+10 points for those of you who get this joke). Others are rambling, stream-of-consciousness nonsense (which can be fun to write).  A few of them have been decent.  For the decent (or better) ones, I then get to try to find the best venue in which to ply my wares.  I could whine and bemoan how literary journals are no longer interested in speculative fiction short stories by unknown authors, but I wont.  But while I love to write short stories, I find that when it comes to short novels I’m a bit of a snob.

Many modern fantasy authors seem to have a preference for writing extreme long-form works.  And don’t get me wrong there’s nothing wrong with writing 350,000 or more words in a single tome.  I frankly think that Brandon Sanderson and Patrick Rothfuss are two of the finest authors alive, but man do they love to write wordy books.

So why is it when I see the word count on my novels that I feel so disappointed?  Nearly 60,000 words is nothing at which to sneeze.  Somewhere along the way I think that I got my brain into the idea that Fantasy and Science Fiction books are supposed to be epic both story-wise as well as word count-wise.  Now neither of these are true.  Plenty of great stories have been shorter than 60,000 words and many have been longer. But, then I’m not trying to do what other authors are.  Well, at the bedrock I am attempting to do the same thing they are: convince readers that my stories are worth their time. I’m just trying to do it in a different manner.

I wonder what the world’s view regarding such things.  Is there a “minimum” at which a story is not long enough to publish outside of a blog?  I certainly don’t think so, but yet my prejudice for these word counts persists.  Very odd.

So now I have to come to terms with a) the fact that I love reading a truly epic book (such as Brandon Sanderson’s The Way of Kings). And b) how to reconcile the publication of my significantly shorter works.  Perhaps I will begin posting some of my short stories on my blog.

Sigh.  Back to trying to convince my imaginary friends to play with me.

–CL