1. Obsidian Vulture
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    Obsidian Vulture New Member

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    Too Long?

    Discussion in 'The Art of Critique' started by Obsidian Vulture, Aug 4, 2008.

    Firstly, forgive me if I have put this in the wrong place. I wasn’t sure whether it should go here, in the General Writing section, or somewhere else entirely. If someone with a greater knowledge of the system could put it in the right place (assuming this is the wrong place) I would be very grateful.

    Anyway, I have two questions. Firstly, I have recently completed the first draft of a short story I am writing, and am keen to put it up in the review room. However, it is upwards of 2,500 words long and most short stories I have seen up on the site are less than half of that. Is there some unwritten/written rule that puts a limit on the length of submitted material? If not, is there any reason I should not submit the entire story (i.e. will anyone actually read through and review something that long)?

    Secondly, I am not sure which category the story should be put into. In a nutshell, it focuses on a man going mad due to the death of someone close to him. There is a fair degree of mystery involved, so I was not sure whether to put it into the ‘Crime and Thriller’ or ‘General Fiction’ sections. Is there a rule of thumb for this, or do I just go with my gut feeling.

    Thanks,
    Obsidian Vulture
     
  2. Scribe Rewan
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    Scribe Rewan Contributing Member

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    I don't think there is actually a rule about story length, seen as it's the short story forum and technically anything up to 25,000 words can be a short story, I think. Basically, 2,500 words qualifies it to be a short story, so I can't see why not. And come to think of it, I think my first post in here was about 2,500 words as well, and no one complained! Pluse I've just gone and looked and found 2 or three other stories around that size. You might want to just put the word count in the title of the thread. But those peices haev been read as well, and reviewed thoroughly.

    I think just go with your gut feeling. Unless you posted something like Bridget Jones Diary in the Sci Fi section, people are going to be too worried. What's the point in having defined genres if you can't stretch them anyway?!
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    People do post some lengthy short stories at times, some of which must be split among more than one post (alll in the same thread, please). This may be worthwhile for a fairly polished story that is ready to be evaluated on overall plot, pacing, character development, and other elements that are best revealed by showing the entire piece.

    However, the longer the piece of writing, the fewer the number oif people who will tackle it for review, and the shallower the coverage will be.

    The best strategy is to begin with a short excerpt, long enough to reveal problems with SPAG, sentence/paragraph structure, weak dialogue, etc. Once you have applied the review comments you find helpful, and through a couple of iterations have improved the writing, you can go back and rework the entire piece with those comments in mind. You might then post an excerpt of another segment, to see if you've really picked up all you can at that level, or that may be when you want to post the full story to see how it hangs together in its entirety.

    The opening of the story (first several paragraphs) is often a good choice for an excerpt, because the beginning of a story is so very critical to success. But you might also use a split excerpt, containing the opening, perhaps a section with a focus on dialogue, and maybe an action scene, to expose a variety of writing situations. You could do these excerpts in a single post, clearly marked where there are omitted sections, or perhaps in more than one post to minimize the chances of confusing your critiquers.

    One last thing. Don't introduce the piece with explanations of what you were intending to convey, nor with your opinion of how great or how awful it is. Let the reviewers decide for themselves!

    You might need to supply some explanations for scenes that aren't at the beginning, but the less you explain, the better the chances of finding where your exposition is thin or missing entirely.
     
  4. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you have some longer pieces you want reviewed, I would be willing to print it up and read it in hard copy. It's a lot easier to hold a reader's attention for that length of writting on paper than it is on screen.
     
  5. Dreamer
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    Dreamer New Member

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    I'm fine with longer postings, if the story is interesting and grabs me. If it is, I actually prefer it, because I comment on the overall character development and writing style of the piece, rather than giving my opinions for each tidbit. If it's not, though, I find it hard to give a thorough critique of it all. It really depends on the piece.

    I suggest going with Cog's idea -- that is, making a new post every few paragraphs. Give us enough to critique, though. If it's a bit over 2500, I'd suggest dividing it into about three postings. 500 - 1500 words is the range I find gets the best critiques. 500 is probably the shortest you want to post, unless it's a flash fiction and stand on its own. 1500 is probably the largest, unless you've got a novel on your hands. ;)
     
  6. NaCl
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    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

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    Also, if you do decide to post it in two consecutive posts, be very careful where you "break" the story.

    I used the two-post method once and broke my story during a low-action moment that seemed like a natural point for a break. Wrong! Someone posted that the story seemed to "end" poorly - they didn't bother to read the second half where the plot actually built to the climax. I restructured the story, inserting an action sequence that left the person hanging at the end of the first section . . . if they did not continue. That link between the first and second "halves" worked and I got good reviews after that.
     
  7. saulka
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    saulka Member

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    I would definitely read something longer. Maybe you could post it as a blog entry rather than just in the review section?
     
  8. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Blog entries have a shorter word limit for post, and normally do not get many reviews. The Review Room is the better place if you want comments.

    The Review Room does not have a specific length limit on what you can post, but very long submissions are generally a bad idea for reasons already stated. Of course, if someone dumps a full novel, it will probably be deleted no matter where it is posted on the site.
     

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