Story Length, again

I know I've written about this before, but it's been over a year. I spent a large part of my morning trying to knock one big item off my list. I'd like to finish the retro science fiction story.

I added thousands of words to this thing, and it still isn't finished. I'm a believer in making things as long as they need to be. Many of the rules regarding preferred story lengths went out the window with the arrival of the ebook.

The rules as I understand them are:

  • Micro-fiction = under 1000 words
  • Short story = 1000 to 10,000 words
  • Novella = 10,000 to 30,000 words
  • Novel = over 30,000, but preferred over 80,000 words.

(That leaves a grey area between 30,000 and 80,000 words. Is it a maxi-novella or a mini-novel?)

Does any of this matter these days? We still need to put a label on our work so shoppers know what we're selling. If I ask $3.99 for a piece of micro-fiction the shopper might be disappointed, even if it's really good.

I am firmly convinced that readers are moving toward shorter lengths. It isn't the price of the book, it's the time involved in reading it. I've even noticed it when asking for volunteers. Experimental Notebook got more volunteers than The Playground. Notebook is a book of micros and short stories, Playground is a novel.

So here I am with the retro science fiction story at 8600 words. I don't know if I can bring it in under 10,000. I made a mistake by having a character outline the big plan, then they execute the big plan. In a short story, outlining it should be deleted. In a novel, the big plan should fall apart and have to be modified on the fly. I will adjust accordingly. First I need to finish the damned thing. Edit later.

I already have the pregame shows on. I sliced up some cheese to have with salami and crackers, and ate a tin of smoked oysters along with the rest. I probably won't eat again today, but may have a brown ale nightcap after the game. Better for my digestion to eat early.

I never checked anything off the list, and I feel terrible. I really tried to finish this short story. I know I could if it weren't Super Bowl Sunday. I looked back at my list, and there is a reminder to have some fun along the way. I'm going to honor that part and watch the big game.

I posted another clever graphic and a plea on Twitter to market Notebook. Facebook vexes me. I went ahead and posted about Lisa's paper dolls, and it was barely noticed. I suppose I need more likes or friends, then maybe it will get more attention. I reserve the right to post about it again at a later date. Maybe they would be better received in one of the groups. I remain open to suggestions on the Facebook front.

I succeeded at messing with Facebook, and updating my blog a few more times. Those were on the list. Everything else still needs work, and I'm chocking this day up as a loser productively. It isn't the number of words, there were lots of words, it's the lack of completion.

Questions for you: Should I even care about titles for story lengths? Should I croak the retro science fiction story as part of another Experimental Notebook, because it's too long? Would it be better used as a permanently free novella? Would you skip the Super Bowl to work on your checklist if your team wasn't in it? (Keep in mind that I'm completely alone today, and have no distractions.) Should I bag the whole process and get back to my beta reading?



Filed under Writing

29 responses to “Story Length, again

  1. Take some time to relax. Bag the beta read 60 % done is a lot at this stage. I would finish the story and put it out there as a $0.99 supplement. Maybe even call it something like The Devil’s Addendum or whatever name would fit.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I like Mr. Howell’s $0.99 idea. As for the Super Bowl? I have never understood the hype. Maybe that makes me lame? Dunno. Gonna go grocery shopping instead. (Best time to go!)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Facebook promotion for Pages is awful. Shortly after I created a Facebook Page with my blog-author-stuffs, I’d average 15 Likes on stuff. I’d get 100-200 Views on a post and several comments. Then they changed it, they want you to pay for it. Now if a post does really well, I get almost 100 views. Most days it barely reaches 20.
    Now, when anyone posts a thing, and it doesn’t get a lot of activity, after awhile, it may as well not be there. But if I spend $5 I can reach the same amount of people I used to.
    Used to be my FB stats were higher than my WP stats. Now it’s grossly inverted.
    I personally like your Page, as well as those of many other authors and bloggers, but unless I mark them as ‘see first’ I rarely encounter them in my feed.
    I’ve found Twitter is a much easier site. Twitter doesn’t drop crap just because no one liked it for two hours. I get blog referrers from Twitter every single day. I do not get referrers from Facebook on the regular.

    Also, I like the robot background — might be my fave you’ve had 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I say the day is almost done. Just rest and let your mind wander. Enjoy the solitude!!!! Recharge for tomorrow, get an early start.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I don’t have any advice on story length. As a reader I prefer full-length novels, and as a writer, the same. But it does seem people are gravitating to novellas more with the advent of the e-book.

    And yes, I would skip the Super Bowl. In fact, I am. Much to my husband’s chagrin… (Football is not my thing. 🙂 )

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I know what you mean about length. I’m still trying to shop a 10k story around for pub in horror mags but no luck so far. Usually, I see under 8k for the mags I get tips on.


  7. I’m watching the Super Bowl as I play around on my laptop and work on posts. My main teams (Patriots and Ravens) aren’t in it, but I’m still interested enough to divide my attention.

    Facebook: I’ve said it before. I’m not a fan, but I use it as needed. I’ll do a paid post when I’ve got something big to share (book release) otherwise, I pop on and off a few times every week. I’ve tried to make myself like it for years and I just can’t embrace the idea. My bad because it does drive a lot of traffic to my blog.

    Story lengths: not sure what to tell you there. At the length you mentioned, you could include it as a short in another “notebook.” You could also offer it as a freebie to draw attention to your other work. Maybe even offer it as a free read to anyone who signs up for your blog. If you decide to do a newsletter, it would be a cool freebie for signing up.

    As for reading, I like short works, but I also have no problem immersing myself in something of epic-length as long as the author delivers. For the most part, I actually prefer them, but I think I’m probably a dinosaur. I love dense fiction. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I went out on the town tonight and met Tim Dorsey, one of my most favorite authors, got a signed book, heard some funny stories, ate good food at a popular French restaurant, no crowds, had the waiter’s undivided attention, and no traffic. I love Superbowl Sunday, but not for the football.

    Book length, hmmm…I get annoyed with novellas that tease me without delivering full story. If it is a full story, I don’t mind if it’s 3000 words or 150,000 words. My last book was 120,000, but this one is only 74,000 words. I charge $3.99 for the 445 page book, but plan to only charge $2.99 for the 74,000 word book if I do self-publish. I still think we set our ceiling too low.

    Facebook. It’s like Joey said. It’s changed. I used to love it. I was in fifteen groups via my personal page because so many you can’t join if try to with your author page. Then they started spamming my feed to “buy my books” constantly and I couldn’t see my own friends and family anymore. I dropped out of them. My author page has so little action on it, and even when I promote there and pay to boost posts or pay for ads it never translates into sales. Anne Rice really knows how to use her author page, but a lot of what she does on it is the same thing we do on the blog and she doesn’t have a blog. I’ve been thinking, I really need to get my author page active, or drop it and change the name of my personal page to S.K. Nicholls. I don’t know, just toying with thoughts.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think any story needs to be complete. A bit of micro fiction might only be a vignette, but it should be complete. Our prices are too low, but that will never change. I’m going to keep toying with FB. I’ve committed, might as well put some effort in.


  9. The Nebula/Hugo awards use 7.5k max for a short story, then 17.5k for a novelette, then 40k for a novella. You’re right, though, a traditional publisher would probably want about 90k for a novel. Under 1k or maybe 1.5k is usually called flash fiction. I personally use microfiction for 100-150 words or less, but that may not be widespread.

    If you don’t mind it being in limbo for some time, you could try sending your short story/novelette to the science fiction magazines.
    Otherwise, I agree with those who suggested another 99cent standalone offering.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Yup. I did skip the Super Bowl (Pats weren’t playing). As far as word counts go, I can only tell you what I do (per publishers guidelines). And that is to keep it at a min of 80K. I usually shoot for 82-85K, but my WIP might be more around 90K. Not sure if this helps, though. Everyone has a different opinion on word counts.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Ali Isaac

    I think it might be a novelette, Craig… Kind of a long short story. I think about 15k. A novella is about 30k. A novel over 50k but usually nearer 80k. A short anything up to 6k. Flash about 300 max. Micro 100 or less. As a guide.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. For what it’s worth, I think readers do use the categories (micro to novella) to make puchasing decisions on price compared to length and also the time commitment to complete the reading itself.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Pingback: Writing Links in the 3s and 5…2/15/16 – Where Worlds Collide

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