Articles / On Writing

Divas on Writing: Short vs. Long Stories

 

More and more authors are writing short stories as a way to introduce themselves in the world of independent publishing. It’s a simpler and less time intensive way to make a name for yourself and create a fan base. Short stories can range in length from as little as ten to fifty thousand words. But the range can vary from editor to editor and author to author. Some editors and authors would call a short anything under fifteen thousand words, while anything between ten to twenty thousand could be considered a novelette, and finally a novella is anything under forty. It’s all very subjective and there’s no precise rule for length.

What’s the appeal for writing short stories or novellas? It’s a matter of preference, really. With a shorter novel (under fifty thousand words) there are certain elements that don’t necessarily need to be present. For example complicated character development, backstory, and multiple plot lines. To put it in a another way, there is less meat on the bones of the stories. This doesn’t mean that shorts or novellas aren’t as fulfilling as a standard length novel.

Short stories are simply put, short and sweet. I like to think of them as instant gratification. This is part of the appeal for readers. They can get a quick read for a relatively low price with little time required. Readers can easily finish a short story in one sitting.

Long stories, on the other hand, are the age-old standard. The length typically is anything above fifty thousand words. While shorts and novellas are as I said, short and sweet, novels can be epic ventures such as Atlas Shrugged which clocks in at 565,223 words or the Lord of the Rings which is over a thousand pages. These word counts are a little excessive for today’s regular published author. Typical books run around seventy to hundred thousand words, but the market still sees books as long as a hundred seventy thousand words or more.

Standard length novels in comparison to novellas are rich in character development, are multilayered, and have complex plotlines with dramatic arcs. A reader can immerse themselves more so than reading a short stories, but that’s not to discredit short stories. The main difference is how the story is delivered and how much development is present.

What is your take on short vs. long stories. Personally, I read both. I have found that many authors use novellas to expand on their novels which is always a treat. They also use shorts as a way to write out of their genre and to keep their skills sharp. I enjoy the creativity authors bring to the table in shorter length books. While I’ll always love a standard novel, shorts have quickly grown on me.

So please share with the Divas what your preference is.


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