1. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Short story or novelette?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by minstrel, Feb 6, 2013.

    Yesterday I finished the first draft of a science fiction story I want to submit to the major sci fi magazines. I checked the story lengths the magazines want, and they define a short story as less than 7,500 words and a novelette as 7,500 to 15,000 words.

    My story is almost exactly 7,500 words long.

    In my second draft, I want to strengthen and extend a couple of scenes - it'll make the story better. That would put the story squarely into novelette territory. On the other hand, I could trim it a little to make it a proper short story, but it's pretty tight already, and I'm afraid I'd lose something important. That would weaken the story.

    The magazines publish more short stories than novelettes, so I have a better chance of being accepted, as a first-timer, with a short story, all other things being equal.

    So, do I lengthen it, making it (IMO) a better story, even if it has a smaller chance of being accepted? Or do I trim it, making it (IMO) a weaker story, but with a better chance of being accepted?
     
  2. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Considering that the magazine accepts both, I would go for the better one (novelette). I figure a better story has a better chance than a weaker story, even if the magazines do publish more short stories than novelettes. Good luck!
     
  3. Xatron
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    Xatron Contributing Member

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    Not really important, but "almost exactly" is a paradoxical combination. As for your question, you should go with the novelette if you believe it will be better than the short story version.
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I bet the number of novelette submissions is considerably less than the number of short stories submissions, so you may be competing for a smaller number of slots against a smaller number of competitors in the novelette niche.

    Overall, if you were considering submitting to multiple publications, I'd recommend making the effort to make the story leaner to fall well within the short story range. But it sounds like going for the more rarefied space may be a wiser course in this instance.
     
  5. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    Not really important, but I disagree. It's saying almost exact, not exact. Like, almost full, almost complete, almost precise, almost this number but not quite. The word exactly is a redundancy more than a paradox.

    As for OP, I think novelette is the best option too. I agree that most submissions would be short stories. I doubt they'll care if you're a first timer. I think that all they'll care about is will the story be worth publishing.
     
  6. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I worked as an editor for about five years, mainly slush pile reader for a small magazine/ezine, and since we accepted short fiction up to 10,000 words, we saw a lot of submissions that were near that word count.

    It was a much more difficult sell for several reasons: When we did print editions, we had limited space, and one 10,000 word story meant fewer stories included in the issue. One 10,000 word story roughly equaled two or three shorter stories with respect to page count. For ezine editions, since we paid by the word, 10,000 words meant a larger hit on the budget.

    As with most magazines/ezines, we received far more submissions than we could ever hope to publish. We also had to reject far more stories that we would have liked to publish due to space/budget limitations. That meant that a really long story had to shine that much more to have a chance.

    But to answer the original question, I feel it's better to produce the best story possible, even if it means a slightly higher word count. If word count is a concern, have another two or three people who are well-read and whose opinion you trust read and see if there are areas that can be trimmed/cut. Sometimes an author is so close to the project that he/she cannot see as clearly as someone with a little distance with respect to what's vital in a story and what isn't.
     
  7. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Thanks, guys. I think I'll try it in novelette form and make it as good as I can. Then I'll set it aside a while and take a fresh look, and if it looks baggy and bloated, I'll cut it to short story length.

    TWErvin2 is right: I'm too close to it right now to make the right call.
     
  8. NigeTheHat
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    NigeTheHat Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'd expect that while they might not publish a good longer story, they definitely won't publish a weak short one. My vote goes to longer and better.
     

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