There’s a fascinating discussion going on in one of my author groups, about writing short. So I thought I’d ask you about reading short(er) stories.
Just to give you some perspective on that; traditional, NY-based publishing, the books you see on the shelves in bookstores, generally runs to around 100,000 words, if not more. Fantasy in particular usually runs to much more. The tomes writers like George R.R. Martin crank out are 250,000 or more.
I’ve written one book that came in at 250,000 — it was an urban fantasy under a different pen name. And I loved writing it. The breadth of story telling possible at that end is pure indulgence for the author. Worldbuilding can be massive. Unfortunatly, sometimes that indulgence shows. Stephen King is particularly bad for running on.
Hands up anyone who has read the extended version of The Stand more than once or twice.
Sometimes the authors who are bound by contract to produce 100K aren’t naturally suited to that length of story telling and struggle to reach their required word count.
Indie publishing started off imitating traditional publishing, then the average book count (for those genres I’m familiar with) dropped down to around 80K. Mine, too.
Recently, I’ve come to consider the old, classic “normal” novel length of 50K to be perfectly reasonable. Most of my novels slide above that by a nudge or two. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Association’s official word count range for novels is from 43,000 to 99,999 words. Anything above that is a “Plus” novel.
Then there’s novellas and novelettes, that fit between short stories and novels. If you’ve been reading my stuff for a while, you’ll know exactly what a novelette is, because the Harley Firebird series is all novelettes (so far — but hold on a bit).
The discussion that is fascinating me right now has divided authors somewhat. Many of them are insisting that it simply isn’t possible to tell a good fantasy story in less than novel length. That there is no such thing as short Epic Fantasy.
I think they’re wrong. Do you? Have you read short fantasy that you liked? Do you like consuming (inhaling, sometimes) lots of different stories from lots of different authors, all of them short, like a buffett of finger food?
And here’s a secondary think: Are you put off by a book description that specifies that it is a novella or novelette? Does that pre-dispose you–even just in the back of your mind–to think that the story can’t possibly be as good as a novel?
These are some of the questions that leave authors lying awake at night. 🙂
So you tell me. I’d really like to know.
And in the meantime, if you’ve avoided short fantasy until now, you can dip your toe in the water with today’s release: Touched by Faelight is a short urban fantasy story (7,500 words). But everyone who has read it so far has said something along the lines of: “I can’t believe it’s only a short story!!”
There’s a lot of story in it.
It’s a standalone story (for now). Give it go, see what you think.
In contemporary Istanbul, a long, drawn-out civil war between Imperial Fae on the Asian side of the Bosphorus and an alliance of Fae occupying the ancient city has ground down the human occupants for ten long years.
Nikol—human, orphan and a Greek in a city of Turks—is touched by disturbingly magical abilities of her own. The humans in the city treat her with suspicion. Yet she is valuable to the human resistance and beloved by the resistance’s greatest spy among the Fae. Arda Sokol is terrified the Fae will learn of Nikol’s abilities, and his effort to protect her strains their relationship–until they must work together to defeat a new threat to the Fae, and he learns she is not weak at all…
“Touched by Faelight” is a short story by urban fantasy author Taylen Carver, originally included in the Street Magic urban fantasy anthology from Camden Park Press, and now published as a standalone.
Feel free to leave a review of the story, if you’d rather not tell me directly what you think of it.
Have a great weekend!