Short & Sweet

Brevity is not one of my strengths.

I love words and I adore trying to convey to others exactly what strange things go on in my head. This can lead to me being really wordy. The term “over-descriptive” has been used to refer to my writing on more than one occasion. It’s not a charge I can argue with.

When I was working as a freelance ghostwriter of erotica, I often told my clients that I have a tendency to “write long and edit down”.

Some authors are the opposite. They do a bare bones sketch for their rough draft and then edit in the details. If that work for you, I’m not knocking it. It’s just not how I operate.

I pretty much write everything and the kitchen sink in my rough draft and then use each successive editing pass to hone the story into a sleek, sexy beast. Like a sculptor, hacking a statue out of a hunk of marble.

A few years ago, aware of my weakness in this area, I joined a Facebook writers group hoping to brush up my skills. We did monthly story prompts, shared our stories, and gave critique. I had no real plans for any of these stories. The experiment was merely meant to exercise some writing muscles, hit words counts, explore different genres.

(After I posted them in our group and got feedback, I just stuck them in file and forgot about them. These are the stories I have been pulling out, polishing, and submitting to anthologies and magazines.)

In my post about giving good feedback, I mentioned how helpful it can be to an author. Those two years in that writing group really helped me sharpen my writing skills. The proof of that, I think, is in the responses I’m getting from editors. Even my rejections are, more often than not, positive in tone and encouraging.

While I still think my preferred length is long form (I think I generally write between 20,000 and 60,000 words), I learned a lot through my attempts to stay below 5k. Even when I failed.

I read a post on social media today where the author opined that short and flash fiction was generally not as fleshed out or well done as longer form fiction. While I do agree that long form gives you more space to explore things in depth, short fiction can be a really powerful medium.

This is a bit of a ramble, I realize. Which is ironic, given the topic.

My point is, I think, that I behooves all authors to try their hand at various story lengths.

Some people think short fiction is dying a slow death as magazines become more and more scarce. But I really hope that’s not true. As a writer, I feel short fiction has so much to teach about word economy, character development, and story arc. And as a reader, I love a quick, effective little morsel.

I particularly love anthologies, where I can read a lot of different authors in one book.

Do you have favorite short fiction markets? Podcasts, ezines, anthologies? Mention them in the comments!





One thought on “Short & Sweet

  1. Good post. I learn something new and challenging on sites I stumbleupon everyday. It will always be useful to read content from other writers and practice something from their web sites.

Leave a Reply