Tuesday, May 18, 2010

About Lengths

No, not THOSE. Get your mind out of the gutter. I mean story lengths.

You know the requirements for the Hot Summer Daze series is 18,000-39,999. This is considered novella and extended novella for Amber Quill. Since I began to write for AQ I have never been able to get it to extended novella or novel.

I have a story in the works (I'm guessing at this point it won't be out until next year) involving cop partners/friends trying to solve murders of senior citizens that might finally get me into the extended novella/novel area, but that's probably it at this point.

So I thought to myself when I first thought of the idea for The Beach House that perhaps I could make this one on the longer side of novellas or even push it into extended novella. I am aware certain readers want longer lengths. I've seen plenty of comments that say "I wish it had been longer" or "it was too short."

But I've come to the conclusion I'm stuck on shorter lengths. I don't think The Beach House will be much longer than 18,000 words. It may top out at 20,000 or so. Maybe. The longest novella I've written was Most Likely to Succeed and I think that one was 26,000. Everything else has been shorter than that.

Two of the stories I get "it was too short" the most are Pulling Away and The Best Gift. And yup, they are short. I deliberately set out to write short stories with each of those, not even novellas. Pulling Away was written in four days to fill a desperate shortage of stories AQ had at the time. I didn't have time to spend weeks on it and get it longer even if I had wanted to. And The Best Gift was just supposed to be a short little Christmas thing.

I searched my own mental archives and realized I used to be able to write novels. My first completed story was 90,000 words or so. It took me years to write it. Yuck. I don't want to take years to write something. After that my novels each got smaller. I've got three out there that are between 60,000 and 80,000. Sinful, the medieval, paranormal, fantasy that I am intending to convert is just over 50,000. So you can see I've steadily crept down over the years even with the novels.

Anyway, while I appreciate those clamoring for longer stories from me or even...gasp...a novel, we'll see if I can ever manage it. As those who know me best know, I'm always itching to have something released and out to the reading public. I can't see myself as the sort who releases one story a year, a novel.


  1. I'm one of those people who hate for your books to be over! But, I can't see you just writing one long book a year either.

    I can't decide which is harder to write, long or short stories. It's harder for me to get the chemistry and characterization going well between my heroes with shorter ones, but you do a great job at it!

  2. I'm just like you, Shawn. I just to be able to write novels years ago, back when I still wrote in my native language (Norwegian...).

    Those were long stories I wrote. Fantasy stories. And I wrote this series (close to 200K by the time I grew tired of it) and still seven or so more books planned for it.

    Now I'm only able to write novellas as well. I wrote one about 30K last year, but they keep going down in number. Lol. I'm down on 20K now - but I try not to have them smaller than that, unless they're intended to be.

    It's hard writing stories. *g*

    I'm actually writing a story for the Hot Summer Daze too - I just hope I get it done in time for the submission deadline. Lol!

  3. 200,000 k? *gulp* How in the world do y'all do it?

  4. Thanks, Andi. I think part of my "quicker" style is I suck at description. It's always been something I won't spend a lot of time on and after all this time I doubt I will change. But you did a great job on Got M. :)

    TT, wow, cool! Good luck getting that Hot Summer story done. You've got until July 01 at least. I'm one of those who prefer to beat the deadline when I can. I'm nuts.

    I'm glad to see I'm not alone in writing shorter lengths now! lol.

  5. I don't do it anymore, Andi. It seems to be impossible for me to write a novel at the moment. They're all novellas now. But that's okay too - as long as I'm writing. *g*

    Thanks, Shawn! I'll need it. I wanted to get a story done for the Working Stiffs too, but I completely lost my inspiration for that one. I just hope that won't happen with the current wip. *lol*

    Hahah, no, you're not alone at all! *g*

    I got to say though, longer works are good to read. But they also take more time to write. I rather prefer shorter works, published more often. A book a year just won't do it for me - not with my favorite authors. *lol*

  6. Both are good opportunties to get into Amber Quill for authors so I definitely encourage any lurking authors out there to consider working on one for either of the themes. I'm not sure if Trace will addd another at some point other than these two, but they are definitely something to consider.

    I know it's kind of late for the working stiff idea if something's not in the works already but the Hot Summer Daze theme is still doable for July 01.

    Trust me when I say AQ is fabulous to work with.

    I know what you mean about favorite authors. There is one who I adore and I am lucky if she gets ONE book out a year. It's very frustrating and I am sure you all know who I mean (Ms. Langley).

  7. I've wanted to be a part of AQ forever. Or that's what it feels like. *lol* Only heard good things about them.

    Yeah, the Working Stiffs are way to late, but I'm gonna finish the wip for the Hot Summer Daze. I've been waiting for an opportunity to submit something to AQ, and I won't screw it up now that I have the chance. *lol*

    Ah yes, Ms. Langley. I love her books. She's soon finished with Matt's book, which gives me hope for a release date this year. *g*

  8. I like short works a lot, unless it feels like the author was limited to a word count, got close, realized there was too much story left in relation to the number of words left, then crammed the story into too few words anyway.

  9. Well unless you are writing to a specific theme series (Christmas stories under 10,000 words for instance or Lust Bites, etc), most of the time the author chooses the length of the story based on what they want to write.

  10. Then it's especially puzzling, that race to tie up all the story threads in the final three pages!

  11. Yeah very few publishers dictate the length to the authors, unless, like I said it's specific to a line of theirs that are short, Lust Bites, Quickies, that sort of thing. Even in the case of a themed series like Working Stiffs or Hot Summer Daze the word count can go anywhere from 18,000-39,999

    That's a pretty wide birth to work with.

  12. I for one will always be clamouring for longer stories - but that's me and the Love...

    But if you find a groove and it works for you go with it.

    you get what you want, stories out to us and stories that you are comfortable sharing..

    and we get all the cute guys who we will still keep clamouring for more from you... LOL

    Seriously though, Chris' question is something I always thought was the case s well, when you see a story wrap up in 4-5pages and leave me wondering what the hell just happened.

    Thanks for the clarification.

    Along with the extended Novella that you do - do ever have one story in the background that you just work on not knowing where it's going..

    Just people in your head..


  13. EH, yeah, actually I have multiple men in my head just hanging out. Some are more insistant but some I am able to shush and send to the back recesses. I am hoping they continue to hang there until next year, lol.

    It's a common misconception that authors are forced to fit stories into certain lengths. As I said, there are certain exceptions like EC's Quickies and Torque's Lust Bites. But even with those, the author has decided to write a story that length. He or she does not have to submit a story for that size. For AQ, unless it's a themed story or a Pax story, they don't dictate the size of the story for the authors. And even then the word count is a wide berth. But any time I want to just submit a story to them, I can choose whatever length I want and my experience with other publishers is similar.