Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Fired Up About Short Fiction

I still haven't had a lot of time to organize my thoughts about how I'm redirecting my ongoing writing dare. But I have enough of a messy direction to get moving.

My goal for this year is to publish something to ebook every month. I knew that I would be using a number of stories and scripts that I already had in my files. What I didn't know was how many Mick and Casey short stories I had which were really novelettes, or even novellas. I also didn't realize how many were finished, or nearly so.

The reason they were left undone or unpolished was mainly because there weren't many markets for that length -- they were too long for magazines, and too short for books. But they are great for 99 cent ebooks.

Today I happened to look at a couple of those trunk stories, and realized I have to get them out now. I feel a certain imperative about it. For one thing, they are great stories which have been waiting patiently for a long time. For another, I think shorter, cheaper works are a part of the wave of the future.

While I think there is a place in this brave new world for the 99 cent novel, as a reader, I don't think they're necessary. I really like the idea of shorter works as snack food. As appetizers. I want to write more flash fiction. I want to write more novellas -- like episodes of a TV show something that's good to read in a sitting.

And also something that gives me a chance to expand my skills and take my time on my novels. I don't have to worry about hurrying, or about publicizing the novels as much. What I'd really like to do is give the reader plenty of chances to get to know my work in short form.

The key, though, is to work toward writing short fiction with the appeal of a novel. You've got to write stories not experiments or clever bits of nothing. Short fiction used to be all about stories, but then the short fiction markets became more literary, and for the longest time even in genre, experiment seemed to win out over story. Well, you know, sometimes writing an experiment is good for your skills, and I don't rule out writing that kind of story once in a while, but the plan is not to do that any more than necessary.

The plan is to write good stories.

6 comments:

Tim King said...

Hi, Camille. I loved your comments here. I've posted on my blog some of my own thoughts. Basically, I love the idea of publishing short ebooks, too short for print but perfect to "give the reader plenty of chances to get to know my work."

And I agree completely with what you said about short stories, as opposed to non-story vignettes. I sometimes grow frustrated with what's published as flash fiction, not enough story even for an individual scene of a novel, much less for an entire story.

-TimK

The Daring Novelist said...

Hi, Tim, nice to hear from you. And yes, it is exciting to see more writers who are excited about STORY.

As for the vignettes - at least with flash fiction they have an excuse.

But the thing that frustrates a lot of readers is that longer short stories don't seem to have any more story to them than a micro-fiction does. (And yes, in grad school, that's what they were teaching - that a story shouldn't move. That one should basically write LOOONNG vignettes.)

DavidRM said...

The plan is to write good stories.

Amen to that. :-)

I started writing short stories as a way to experiment with different voices and styles, with an eye to improving my novel-writing skills. I think it worked... But, more than that, I ended up with a love of short stories (reading them and writing them) that I didn't expect.

I have 2 single short story ebooks out now, plus 3 collections (two flash collections and one story collection that includes a novella). I'm planning to put out more singles this month, and then a couple more collections before summer. Then I'll need to write more short stories. :-) Just have to finish the current novel first.

-David

Tim King said...

Ah... So that explains The Alchemist. I was trying to figure that out.

I'm not sure that the size of flash is really a good excuse for not including an actual story. I mean, if I write a 1000-word scene, it still has to have a story in it. I see good flash as simply a different version of the longer stories. Maybe trimmed down in scope, but still embodying the same fundamental values and characteristics. Although... I might make it through a 1000-word vignette, whereas I would never make it through a novel-length one. :-)

-TimK

The Daring Novelist said...

David:
One of the things I'm enjoying about short fiction again is that it does give me a chance to take my time on the novels.

Tim:
I meant to post tonight about "epiphany" stories and other issues about length. I like your definition of "something has to change."

Tim King said...

Thanks, Camille. I got that from Holly Lisle, and extended it. (Trying to give credit.) -TimK