1. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    Story Size

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by GuardianWynn, Apr 17, 2015.

    Is it possible for a story to be impossible because it is the wrong length? I am not referring to publishing.

    I mean like is it possible for an idea require more words then it as an idea can handle. Like a short story being too long for example.

    An example. I was writing. Wrote a short story. Posted it. Got a lot of feedback(Thanks). Noticed one key error was it was too short. As such I lost the atmosphere and left the reader confused a bit often.

    I am afraid that if I just add description that the story would become tedious long and bore a reader.

    Any thoughts on not just my case but the issue of a stories length and method of expressing it?
     
  2. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    This doesn't sound like the problem was that it was too short, exactly. It sounds like the problem was that you didn't have consistent atmosphere and confused the reader. Two serious problems with a story, for sure.

    Other than that, I don't really understand what you mean by an idea needing more words than it can handle.

    This seems like maybe it's an imbalance of story elements rather than length? Maybe? (Still not quite clear on what you're getting at, but guessing). Like, if you need to spend a lot of time on back story in order for everything to make sense, but then don't have enough front story to balance it out? So you spend a lot of words explaining things, and not enough words on what's actually happening? I can see this being a problem with a short story with extensive world-building needs, too.

    Is that what you're getting at?
     
  3. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yeah kind of.

    More just theory in general on size and how it affects a story.

    Well in my case the atmosphere and confusion problems both seemed to happen because of length. As I was moving to the next scene so quickly I didn't allow the mood to play out. I probably could show enough content and world building to make the story work as it wants too. Which would likely change it from 3k currently to I think 15k. Then 15k isn't really a short story anymore. Maybe I am getting hung up on labels?

    Still the main question was just when does the size of a story start forcing you to think about or change elements in a story.
    Does that make sense?
     
  4. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, I think there are definitely stories that are too big to be told as short stories, for sure.

    Maybe I was making it too complicated. It sounds like you are just getting hung up on labels, really.

    I mean, if you want to write a short story, you need to chose a fairly simple plot, limit the number of characters and subplots, etc. So if your story is more complicated, then, yeah, it probably needs more words. You have to decide whether you want to write that story, or write a story of a specific length. Given that you've said we shouldn't be worrying about getting things published, I think you should write the story you want, and not worry about how many words it takes.
     
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  5. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    Even when not worried about publishing though. Do you think a story length is something to think about? Like how do you decide a story needs more meat or has to much fat?
    Might have been a best way to phrase the question
     
  6. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Meat/Fat - beta readers? Critiques? I mean, after a while I think you develop your own style and your own judgement, but even then I think it's good to leave things for a few months and then go back to read them with fresh eyes. It's all about trying to see your work as your readers will see it.

    It's just as true of novels as short stories, I'd say.
     
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  7. ogu
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    ogu New Member

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    I don't think you should worry much about length, especially for the first draft. First you get the story out, that's the main thing. After that you can argue if it needs more words or not. Stephen King has a formula: second draft = first draft - 10%. As BayView said, it's easier to decide what to do if you can see your writing more objectively.
     
  8. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    Now I feel stupid again. I open a thread thinking maybe to spark large discussion at something peaking in the back of my mind. Then it just seems I let doubt rule me for 10 minutes.
     
  9. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, maybe I'm missing something?
     
  10. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    I thought maybe different people yourself included might have went into detail about how the size of a story and concepts like that affect ones writing choices and what aspects flow together and which do not. But it seems in my fear induced thought process I was just over thinking something simple.
     
  11. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I have a hard time writing short stories. Lengths less than, say, 6k words are very hard for me. I come up with an idea for a short, aiming for 4k to 5k, and it wants to grow to 10k to 12k. When I was taking fiction courses with Gotham Writers Workshop, they required short stories, and I was very hard put to hold the lengths down to 5k or less. I got some good feedback, but I was always thinking that my stories would be a lot better if I let them get a bit longer. I think, probably, that my most natural form is the novella. I have a story that's 11k words that wants to by 15k to 16k. I have another, in first draft form, that's 23k and wants to be 28k to 30k. I have a couple of other ideas for short stories that I don't really want to start on, because I know they'll grow into novellas. One in particular is crying out to be 20k when I originally hoped it would be less than 7k.

    The problem is that there are very few markets for novellas, even in science fiction. Duotrope lists dozens of markets for short stories, but boy does that list get short when you're talking about longer pieces. This has become a major problem for me in terms of traditional publishing. Where can I submit my stuff?

    I have only two ideas right now that feel like they want to be full-length novels. One of them already is in draft form, and the other is getting there pretty quickly. Almost everything else I've written or have on the go is of a really awkward length. I don't want to stretch things, because padding always shows, and I don't want to cut unreasonably because the guts of the story wind up in the trash bin.

    Argh.
     
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