Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Long and Short of It

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According to my friends and my wonderful husband, my books are getting some reviews. What's most interesting is that a consistent theme is emerging: a lot of the reviewers are saying they wish the stories were longer.

So here I sit laughing my butt off because I deliberately wrote those stories short.

You see, until a few years ago I wrote long stories. Really long stories. I'm talking epic, as in G.R.R. Martin style fantasies set in vast, complex worlds. The drafts and hard copies take up a lot of room in my file cabinet--okay, let's be honest, they take up entire cabinets. If the apocalypse comes, I can stay warm for two, maybe three winters just by burning the pages. I even had agents love these stories but say they wouldn't be able to sell them because... yep, too long. "Cut it in half," I was told, and maybe they would take another look. I may sell the things yet.

But I grew sick of hacking my work to bits. You can only cut a story so far before it ends up a mutilated mess. So I decided I would do something new. I would start completely from scratch and write shorter books! Books with less complicated plots and fewer characters. Less introspection. Fewer subplots. Less wallowing in feelings and declarations of love or disappointment.

What happened, though, is I still pack a lot of world-building into these shorter books. My few characters continue to be complex, with messy lives. It's just how my stories are built.

Making my stories shorter was a sound decision. After all, I am getting published now. But it looks like I may need to fine tune my technique. Reviewers are pretty unified in calling for my stories to be longer and my characters to do more on page romantic bonding (they seem okay with the sex, though, which is good). So I'm going to see about creating characters that are a little warmer and fuzzier, at least with each other. And I'm going to write more novels, and series, and fewer stand-alone novellas.

Because writing long...that's something I can do in my sleep.

2 comments:

  1. LOL You're not the first author I've read that has gotten reviews that claim that the story is too short - even if the story was deliberately meant to be short and the web page where it was sold explicitly shows the word count. *shrug* Like your husband and friends said, at least you're getting reviews ;-)

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    1. The funniest part is I easily could have made those stories longer, but I kept reminding myself to rein it in. :D

      I don't find out about reviews unless someone tells me, so yes, it's good to know I have some!

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