Thursday, June 17, 2010

I don't usually double post, but I've had more than a few folks ask me to post this on the Gems' loop...and you know me. I aim to please. That and I have about a gazillion things to do. Did I mention I really hate the last month of school? Here in Canada, out kids in elementary go until June 29th! I know...what are the powers-at-be thinking?

Anyway, this subject is something I've been wondering about for a while. So, here are my thoughts about writing short...

So, I have a question, which may take a while to get to, but rest assured, it's in here. When I first started writing stories, I have to confess that I never really considered the length of said story. I had an idea and ran with it until it was done. Now remember, that at this point, I considered a novel, just that, a novel. Though I'd read a ton of ebooks, they were always novel length. I'd never ventured into the realm of shorts or novellas, always choosing stories that were just digital versions of the books I'd buy in the stores. I'm not sure if I equated shorts to stories I'd see only in collections or the kind of stuff you'd submit to magazines, but I hadn't considered short stories in their own right.

After a couple of books were contracted, I was informed (nicely, of course) that shorter stories sold better in e-form. Quite honestly, I was shocked. I mean, to me, I thought readers would want to read a full book. I didn't realize there were such tasty treats out there as the RP Glimmers or Novellas. Needless to say, I've since written a few of these (though not yet at this pub, lol), though my heart is still in the grand tales. I love epic adventures that allow me time to develop characters and weave intricacies into the plot line. It took me a while to figure out how to condense a thought into just a single event and build the plot around that event. You'll notice this as my new novel, Worlds Apart, is still just that, a novel. I tried to make it shorter, but the story needed a certain length to be as rich as I wanted it to be. But alas, I digress.

Okay, getting to the question part...really.

As I've been flipping through some different sites lately, some personal sites, some commercial, I've come across a number of reviews or ratings where the reviewer/rater has given a story a so-so review based mostly on the fact it was too short. There are common comments, such as...the characters weren't as developed as I wanted, and the plot wasn't as intricate as I'd hoped it be, I'd have liked more back-story...

Now everyone is allowed their opinion, and I'm truly not knocking reviews or ratings of books. We all get some great and some not-so-great ones. But I was puzzled by these comments. I mean...what is the reader expecting in a 15,000 word story? It's hardly enough time to introduce a plot, add some angst, get to the 'hot' stuff and resolve everything before one's time is up! So it made me wonder if readers are expecting a fully developed novel shrunk down into a pint-size offering?

Is this true? And if so, are authors falling short or are readers really expecting too much for the reality of the situation?

For me, as a reader, I look at the length of a book and adjust my expectations a bit. I know, if it's a short story that's part of a collection, that it's really going to be more of a snap-shot into the lives of the characters, not a full journey. I still expect a storyline, but I don't anticipate it'll be as involved as a story twice it's length, simply knowing there isn't enough time to get it all in. I want character development, but I don't expect it will be mind-altering in such a short space.

Perhaps it being a writer and knowing that 2000 words can be the difference in the plot being full rather than a bit sparse. That 2000 words can be the ending you've always wanted versus a quicker wrap up than intended. I think I give authors a bit of a break realizing they're working on restrictions imposed by the publisher and that they're trying to give you as rich an experience as they can within a very short space.

So...what is everyone's opinion on this? Do you expect a full novel in a short version? Do you take into account the length of a story before you make any expectations? If short sells better, but every comment is... I wish it was longer... how do authors please their readers if their shorter offerings are looked at as not quite complete, but folks won't buy the larger ones? (Yes, this is the selfish hint to go out and try the longer ones... like mine, lol) Now, I'm not saying you can't have a good story in a short package, but I don't think you can have a novel in a novella.

I'd also love to know why readers prefer short? Is it having to read on a computer, though with the iPad and e-readers now available, I think this argument will soon be a thing of the past? Is it the desire for instant gratification where you know you can sit down and finish a book in an evening? Does it come down to cost, though at five or six dollars, an ebook is still half the cost of a paperback?

Any insight is welcomed. And before I leave you, I wanted to announce that Worlds Apart is now available!!!! It is, of course, a long book at 62K, but I just couldn't make it any shorter. I hope folks will venture into the longer books, but I"m also curious to know how you feel about the shorts and what your expectations are.

Okay, here's a quick excerpt from Worlds Apart...

“Your turn.”

Sam turned to him, fear flickering in her eyes. “You first.” She glanced back at the sheer drop over her shoulder. “That way I can watch how you cross it so I won’t fall.”

Uncertainly flared, as he watched her snag her bottom lip. He tried searching her thoughts, but the connection was too weak. That, or she was shielding herself from him. He leaned closer, tracing the gentle curve of her jaw.

“There’s nothing to fear,” he assured her.

“I’d just feel better knowing you were on the other side to catch me if I stumble.”

Griffin nodded, moving over to the wood. “I could carry you,” he offered, but she shook her head, motioning him forward.

He climbed on, making his way across, landing on the other side in a cloud of dust. He turned back just as a streak of light flashed in his eyes, knocking him to the ground. A sharp hiss filled the air, followed by a loud crack. He squinted through the smoke as the log burst into flames, splitting near the center before plummeting into the empty space and crashing onto the rocks below.

Griffin pushed up, waving his hand to clear the air. Sam was standing on the other side, her blaster palmed in her hand. “What the hell are you doing?”

“Saving your life. You know the hovercraft can’t take all of us, and there’s no way you’ll let me back out, so…”

Her voice faded as she stared at the open space, her eyes glassy. Rainbow colored dots reflected off the tears gathering in her eyes, making her skin sparkle in the light. He fisted his hands, eyeing the drop, when her voice echoed down the rift.

“It’s too far, even for you,” she said, a smile touching the corner of her mouth. “Now go, before the second sun sets.”

“I’m not leaving you here,” he barked, brazing a glare at Sirena. “Get Jonah and Luca, and bring back the rope.”

“But Griffin—”

“Don’t challenge me. Just do as I ask.” He turned back to Sam as Sirena darted down the path, disappearing down a steep slope. “Damn it, Samantha. I swear, once I get my hands on you I’ll—”

He stopped when the tears he’d seen gathering in the light fell silently down her cheek. “Little one—”

“Don’t,” she interrupted, holding her hand up. “I’m not your little one, your mate or anything else.” Her head drooped toward her chest as her voice cracked. “I’m nothing but a link you can’t sever.”

“What are you talking about? You aren’t making any sense.” He huffed as he edged closer to the rift. “Is this because of our coupling? Did I hurt you?”

Her head lifted to meet his gaze. “Coupling? That wasn’t a coupling. It was you scratching an itch!” She shook her head as sobs wrenched from her chest. “I can’t live like this, Griffin. I can’t keep pretending there’s nothing wrong. That we’re the perfect pair.” She grabbed her stomach, bending over as if she were going to throw up. “The pain is killing me. Hell, even Cain could smell that you hadn’t touched in months. I can’t keep lying to everyone…it hurts too much.”

“What do you mean the pain is killing you?” Anger bubbled his blood as she simply shook her head. Damn but she was stubborn.

“I appreciate what you tried to do. But it didn’t work. Now you’re bound to someone you can’t even stand to be in the same room with.” She moved back until she was leaning against the side of the cliff. “It’s better this way. You know it is.”

“Samantha, listen to me.”

She stopped him with a raise of her hand. “There’s nothing left to say.” She motioned to the path behind him. “Go, before it’s too late. I’ll head to the caves, gather as many crystals as I can.” She held up a small device. “I brought a locator beacon. It’s set to go off at sunrise. I’ll try to get as close as I can, but either way, Caleb should be able to track it.”

“Samantha. No.”

“Please don’t make this any harder than it is.” She took a shuddering breath, wiping at the tears. “I knew the moment I saw you that I was in trouble.” She flashed him a genuine smile that made his heart clench. “No one had ever looked at me like that. Those first few months… It was the first time since I was a child that I ever felt safe. I’ll always cherish that.”

Griffin growled as she turned and walked up the path, ignoring his frantic calls. He looked at the gorge separating them, knowing he couldn’t jump the distance, but willing to die trying. He looked up, pinned by her pale eyes.

“It’s okay. I’ve made my choice. Just promise me you’ll keep our people safe.”

He nodded despite the numbing feeling constricting his chest, making it impossible to speak, to breathe.

“One last thing… I love you. I think I always have. And I know I always will.” She lifted her hand, waving at him as she bridged the bend. “Goodbye, beastman. Find happiness. You deserve that.”


Thanks for tuning in. See you all next month.
Kris
Romancing life...one adventure at a time.

7 comments:

Tessie Bradford said...

Great excerpt, Kris.
So far, I've written only shorter length books, because that is what I enjoy reading. On a good day, I might get an hour or two to myself and a well written, quick read is exactly what I'm looking for!

Anna Mayle said...

As far as your questions go, I think whether or not a short is 'too short' comes down to each individual work. I've read some that present and wrap everything up nicely as a full novel, I've read others that leave me asking 'where's the rest?'

When it comes to writing, my first story "Bedtime Story for a Stolen Child" is coming out in October, it's a short and I believe it's all together, but the latest one I finished was meant to be a short and ended up just needing to be a novel. Like people, each story is unique in it's needs and what it brings to others.

And at least in Michigan, shorts are probably more popular because of the price. The library is more crowded now than it's ever been because people can't afford to spend as much as they once could.

Oh, By the by, ^_^ loved the blurb, it makes me want to read more.

育淑 said...

大師手筆﹐果然不凡.................................................................

育隆 said...

Poverty tries friends.....................................................................

Fran Lee said...

Loved this one! Read it twice. LOL!

Fran Lee said...

In case you don't have a translation program, The first kanji comment is from "Nurtures Shu" and it says:
Master writing skill ﹐ really uncommon

The second one is from "Nurtures prosperously" and it says: 贫穷审判朋友。 :)

江婷 said...

死亡是悲哀的,但活得不快樂更悲哀。......................................................................

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