Thursday, November 5, 2009

Some thoughts about the length of stories

I just learned a new concept: hint fiction. Very fascinating. I could probably publish a new hint fiction story a day...
"...if a drabble is 100 words, and a dribble is 50 words, then how about we say Hint Fiction cannot be anything more than 25 words."
Flash fiction, mentioned in the article, is 1000 words or less.

Short Story
~ 1,000 - 7,500 words

The ’regular’ short story, usually found in periodicals or anthology collections. Most ’genre’ zines will feature works at this length.

~ 7,500 - 20,000 words

Often a novellette-length work is difficult to sell to a publisher. It is considered too long for most publishers to insert comfortably into a magazine, yet too short for a novel. Generally, authors will piece together three or four novellette-length works into a compilation novel.

~ 20,000 - 50,000 words

Although most print publishers will balk at printing a novel this short, this is almost perfect for the electronic publishing market length. The online audience doesn’t always have the time or the patience to sit through a 100,000 word novel. Alternatively, this is an acceptable length for a short work of non-fiction.

~ 50,000 -110,000

Most print publishers prefer a minimum word count of around 70,000 words for a first novel, and some even hesitate for any work shorter than 80,000. Yet any piece of fiction climbing over the 110,000 word mark also tends to give editors some pause. They need to be sure they can produce a product that won’t over-extend their budget, but still be enticing enough to readers to be saleable. Imagine paying good money for a book less than a quarter-inch thick?

Epics and Sequels

~ Over 110,000 words

If your story extends too far over the 110,000 mark, perhaps consider where you could either condense the story to only include relevant details, or lengthen it to span out into a sequel, or perhaps even a trilogy.

Copyright 2002 Lee Masterson
Then someone mentioned "noveleenie" or "noveleeny" - which could be a "tiny novel", but it might also be another word for "novellette". I don't know. But:

Wired's "Very Short Stories"

Wired magazine took 33 writers from the fields of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror, and asked them to write 6-word short stories.
"Computer, did we bring batteries? Computer?"
- Eileen Gunn

"Gown removed carelessly. Head, less so."
- Joss Whedon

"The baby’s blood type? Human, mostly."
- Orson Scott Card

"Kirby had never eaten toes before."
- Kevin Smith

I once won a Columbus Dispatch "noveleenie" contest (write a short story under 400 words.), but this sounds like more fun.

- Dara

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