Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Short Story- Novella-Novel Quagmire

As any of my fans know, I have yet to write a novel.  I am in the middle of one right now, but I have yet to publish one.  I have spent the past three years working on shorts works, and to this day have published 26 or so short stories and 4 novellas.

Now, I did this for one main reason: exposure.  In the time I spent working on these shorter works, I could have written two or two and a half books.  But then I would have had 2 or 3 works published  instead of the 16 or so collections and novellas I have available.  Was it the right choice?  Who knows.

I love writing short stories and novellas for several reasons.  First, I can get something on sale pretty quickly.  "Butchered" has 2 short stories, "The Butcher" and "Drop House", combining for around 10,000 words.  I write these two stories in three weeks, edited them in three weeks, and put them on sale.  Done.  Sure, it's only $.99, but it's another "book" with my name on it.  Something else for my fans to enjoy in a month and a half.  "I Never", my last novella, was around 17,000 words.  Took a month to write and a month to edit.  I sold it alone, and then combined it with my three other novellas for a collection to give readers more choice.

But this isn't the only reason I like short stories and novellas: there is quick turn around.  I have a short attention span.  I get bored easily.  And I have dozens of stories ricocheted around my head.  A novel will take me nine months to a year to wrote.  One year, a single story.  In the three years, I was able to write 30 stories.  I never got bored.  There was a finish line I could see.  As much as I like writing, there is something to be said for getting the story done, especially when I have only an hour to spend every night.

Of course, if this was ever a full time job for me, everything would change because I could have time to work on a novel AND work on shorter works every day.  In my ideal world, I would have three hours to work on a novel a day, an hour to work on a novella or short story, an hour to edit and an hour to blog/advertise.

But, unfortunately, that is not my current reality, and time is at a premium.

Now, fortunately or unfortunately, I have turned to writing a novel, which means I am stuck on a single story from now until October.

Now I'll admit, part of the problem is my fault.  I didn't pick a fast-paced thriller or a gory horror or a zombie story.  I picked a ghost story, and ghost stories tend to be slower stories, requiring a lot of back story.  I was inspired by Peter Straub's Ghost Story, an excellent and very satisfying book.  But it was 600 pages and it was slow, and while this book, tentatively entitled Compulsion, will not be 600 pages, it is slow to write.  There is a lot of history to explore, which sucks me out of the current flow of the story, but is absolutely necessary.

Now here I am, a month into it with another two and a half months a head of me just for writing, then another two and a half months of editing, and then another month of editing when it comes back from the editor.  I'm not looking at being done with this until October, and that is daunting.  And I get bored some nights, wanting to work on a shorter piece.At least I get the month while it is at the editor to start working on something else, but that isn't until August.

Don't get me wrong, I love novels.  Most of what I read are novels, and I understand that most of what I will write, if I ever get to do this for a living, will be novels.  I have a dozen ideas for novels.  I want to write novels.  You need to write novels to make a real profession of this.  But when there are time restraints, shorter works have just had more appeal for me.  And it gives readers something short and cheap to read to see if they like what I do.

So wish me luck, friends and fans.  I am 40,000 words in, with another 40,000 words planned.  But the way this is going, it may spin out of control and be another 60,000 words instead.  I'm just praying that I actually finish it.  I hope to be able to write full time one day, and that means writing novels.

1 comment:

  1. Good luck with it!

    I know that readers tend to prefer novels, but I think that horror actually lends itself better to shorter works. My theory is that it's hard to write pure horror that's longer than a short story, that some other genre/framework has to be used to weave a big of horror throughout once the story gets to a certain length.