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Wednesday, May 3, 2017

The Long and Short of Things

I have been an avid reader for as long as I can remember. When it comes to my next read, I don't give a thought to it's length. Okay, maybe that's not exactly true. Before diving into a missive the length of those written by Diana Gabaldon or Brent Weeks, I do pause to consider if I'm willing to devote myself to a lengthy read at that point in time. If the answer is no, I just move that book further down my stack until my schedule is a bit more accommodating.

As an author, I know that there are many categories of stories based on length, but your average reader seems to lump books into one of two categories: full-length novels and short stories. I didn't realize until last year that there seems to be a lot of dislike for short stories. A year ago I participated in a collection of short, sweet romances. And, as authors are wont to do, we requested reviews of our collection. While the reviews were primarily positive, most of them started with "I don't usually read/like short stories..."

Short or long I love them all!
When I first moved from the world of fan fiction to original stories I didn't expect to write short stories but I do. And, I don't know why I though that. My favorites of my fan fictions are only 1700 and 4500 words respectively. To me, not all stories are meant to be long. Some stories just give you a peek into a world and I'm okay with that.True, I have read short stories that felt incomplete because they left questions unanswered. But, at the other end of the spectrum, I have read many full-length books that would have been better if they were a few chapters shorter.

So, dear readers, let's chat. Do you love or loathe short stories and why? This inquiring mind wants to know!

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  1. As a reader, I have a few favorite short stories, but mostly I'm partial to long stories. As a writer, I have a new appreciation for short stories now that I've written several of them. There is an art to writing short works well. Mark Twain said something to the effect that he didn't have time to write a short letter, so he wrote a long one instead. There is a lot of tongue-in-cheek truth to that.

  2. Like you, Isabella, I don't usually dive into a humongous length novel by an author I've never read. However, unlike you and, apparently, the popular contingency of readers, I DO love short stories. In fact, I love them. I am especially addicted to anthologies where I can read a number of short stories by some authors I don't yet know and decide if I want to read more of their work.
    Although I am an author of long fiction, I thoroughly enjoy writing shorter work. There is a challenge to writing a story with a limited number of words and yet, giving the reader a lasting impression.
    I found Linda Lael Miller, the western romance writer, in an anthology. I loved her story so much I had to find her longer work. I think it's an excellent idea for authors to write short stories from time to time, especially for anthologies, to introduce themselves to new readers.
    I read the entire Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon and I have to say I skimmed through much of the monotonous off-shoots of endless botanical and medical meanderings. Loved the places where characters took center stage, but not the lengthy lectures. Just sayin'...

  3. I just wrote my first collection of short stories. I had written a novella which didn't quite work so I edited and shortened it into a short story. I've added two stories to it and this collection should come out in summer. I agree it's a good route for readers to discover new authors and I sure hope it works!

  4. I prefer full length stories that completely immerse me into the writer’s vision. A well written monster tome, like “The Lord of the Rings,” or “The Mysterious Island,” has me so enamored with the author’s make believe land, and his many characters, that at read’s end I hate to close the book, and long to return to that wondrous, if dangerous, place…and remain.
    Few short stories have left me thus affected. However, there have been those I have enjoyed that left me emotionally drained. Sad to the point of tears, or with a smile a mile wide on my face. Others have left me considering the possibilities.
    Whether long or short I seek to insure the books I read are worth the investment of my time, for truer words were never spoken than, “So many books―so little time.”
    I have attempted to thrice write short stories. Each finished well over a hundred thousand words. Despite the brevity of this comment, I tend to be verbose, both in speech, and with the quill.