Monday, August 1, 2016

How long to go?

Here's the thing. the subject for this week's topic is "Why I prefer to write Long/Short fiction.” 

I prefer both.

What it comes down to for me, what it has always come down to for me, is that some stories insist on being longer and some decide they should be sorter.  Most of mine tend to go long, so I guess that's technically me answer. I write long stories because I have so much I want to say. Just yesterday I finished a short story for the New England Horror Writers that tops off just a little over 7,000 words.  For me that’s kind of short. I like to add a little backstory, I want to get to know the characters and I want to make absolutely sure that the readers get all that they came looking for when it comes to the story.

An editor once asked me if I could write a promotional story for a novel coming out and I said sure. The first time I was asked, I did around 5,000 words because the editor didn’t want to go any longer. There were space considerations as this was a promotional piece for my novel BLOOD RED that had not come out at that point. It was printed in a print run of only 250 copies. After I did that I was asked by another publisher to write a short story revolving around my character Jonathan Crowley, a supernatural hunter of all things that go bump in the night.  The story I came up with was called “Little Boy Blue,” and it’ clocks in around 15,000 words. Enough that the publisher decided to do a heavy print run, gave away copies at a couple of conventions and then sold the remainders as chapbooks for a decent amount. He probably broke even, as the books had lovely production values.

My point is, I could have made Little Boy Blue shorter, but it didn’t work for what I was doing. It needed to be longer, so I let it go where it needed to go.

I have written stories for several anthologies that had a cap—a maximum amount they can pay. As an example the editor might say I can pay you x cents per word up to 5,000 words and anything over that gets no extra money—and almost universally I have exceeded that cap without hesitation. The words want to be written.

I recently turned in a 90,000 word manuscript and the editor looked it over and asked how I’d feel about adding a but more to the story here and there, in areas he felt were a little sparing in detail. All in all, somewhere between 15,000 and 20,000 additional words. I was delighted. I felt those areas could use a little fleshing out myself, but I wanted to at least try to trim back to the agreed upon length.

I like to go long. It’s just the way I’m designed, I guess.