Friday, August 29, 2014

Short Story, Long Weekend

I finished a draft of my short story yesterday, so I'm now giving myself a long weekend, which I'd been planning for a while. I don't know what I'm going to do other than read, but that's sort of the idea, to have nothing scheduled, nothing I feel I have to do.

I've been asked why I'm bothering writing a short story and what the problem is with it wanting to turn into a novel. Part of it is as a writing exercise. I know I tend to meander, so it's good for me to focus on telling just one little story without letting it blow out of proportion. In this case, I'd tried starting a novel based on this concept, and there wasn't enough to work with. It was trite and meandering. This is a reboot with the same essential concept but without turning it into an epic quest. The characters came out different, too. Part of it was to have something new to read at conventions, since the novels I have coming out soon I've been working on for years, so I've read from them over and over again. Unfortunately, this may have come out a little long for that. I'll have to see if I can edit it down, or maybe do a reading version. And part of it is professional insecurity. There seems to be an attitude in the science fiction/fantasy world that "real" writing is short story writing, and if you haven't done that, no matter how many novels you've written, then you haven't earned your stripes. Even though short stories don't pay that well and there aren't so many magazines publishing short stories (though there are an increasing number of online outlets these days), the Old Guard sticks to the idea that the way to break in is to write a bunch of short stories, sell those, and then write your novel. Skipping the short story step means you don't get taken as seriously. And that's the way to get awards, too, to have enough stories out to get known in those circles and then get some award nominations. Not that I think this story is necessarily award-worthy, but I do think it's a good exercise to do as a palate-cleanser between novels.

I'll confess, though, that after discovering these characters while writing this story, I kind of want to write a novel about them. I'm just not sure there's enough material in there. I might be able to expand it to novella length and get just the right amount of stuff in, but then it's way too long to read at most cons and that narrows the market possibilities. And I'm not sure if there's a market for it. It's not nearly romancey enough for the romance people and the fantasy people are likely to say it's too romancey. But I think I like it. It started out as a funny story and ended up making me cry.

But that's for later. For now, I'm going to make lunch, then I'm going to spend the afternoon goofing off. Tonight is the last night of summer fireworks, weather permitting, and then tomorrow I have more strenuous goofing off planned.

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