1. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    Do you have a length you sort of gravitate to naturally?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by deadrats, Aug 10, 2016.

    I read something about this recently and it sort of got me thinking. I really do have this sort of 4,000-word comfort zone for my short stories. I've produced a few novellas that I had intended to be novels, but I seem to like 20,000 words for longer works. And my poetry is pretty much always 39 lines. Do you guys think you have a natural length you gravitate to as writers? And if so, what can be done to work around these or with them? I don't mind it for my short stories and poetry. I think it kind of helps. I write so much in those areas that it's like I've got a real feel for it. But I would like to write to a more average book length. I'm not really sure how do adjust my storytelling compass or whatever you want to call it. Any ideas? Can you relate?
     
  2. minstrel

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I gravitate to novelettes and novellas (say, 12,000 to 25,000 words). I've only ever written one full-length novel, and my short stories always feel too sketchy to me - I keep wanting to fill them out more. This doesn't bother me at this point.
     
  3. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    It's interesting to hear that someone else also unintentionally writes to this novella length. Any idea why this is true for you as well? I mean I've read way more novels than novellas. I've got something in the works that I really want to be longer. Maybe it will be, but my track record would suggest otherwise.
     
  4. Lifeline

    Lifeline Out of the Night Supporter Contributor

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    I am writing a novel and my scenes mostly are around 3-3.5k. That seems the length I am comfortable with, and gives me enough space to write my mini-story within this scene. I am quite satisfied with this length so I don't want to change it - but I don't know the number of actual scenes which my WIP will be composed of so I have no idea which length the whole mess will be. Long, I suspect ;)
     
  5. minstrel

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I never gave it much thought. As I said, it doesn't bother me that I gravitate to the novella length. I like the form. I like reading Joseph Conrad, Jim Harrison, and others who wrote lots of novellas. I admire long novels: they're rich, immersive experiences, and I'd like to write a few myself, but I don't think writing novellas is a problem.
     
  6. KhalieLa

    KhalieLa It's not a lie, it's fiction. Contributor

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    It depends on what I'm writing. Novels 1 & 2 both came out at 105,000 words for their first drafts. The jury is our on what the finished length for both will be. Novel 3 feels like it's going to go longer.

    Short-stories, usually 3,500 words. To long to be flash fiction, but not long enough to do anything with.
     
  7. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    What are you talking about? That's a very ideal length for a short story. Most short stories published in journals and magazines are between 3,000 and 5,000 words.
     
  8. KhalieLa

    KhalieLa It's not a lie, it's fiction. Contributor

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    I write magazine articles (non-fiction) that length and those do get published, but I haven't found many avenues for fiction that length. A couple contests, but that's it. Nothing that pays more than a few hundred bucks a pop. Granted I'm happy enough to accept the money when it comes, but it would be nice to add a little more to it. Where are you submitting?
     
  9. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    Again, you are so wrong about short stories that length. Pick up any magazine with short fiction and you will find the majority of stories are right around the same length as yours. I am talking about New Yorker stories, Tin House stories. Paris Review. One Story. Any journal or magazine, really. And some of those places pay quite well. You might want to check out a website called duotrope. It's an online database of basically every publication out there and includes how long they like their fiction as well as what they pay, how long they take to respond, acceptance rates and much more. Plus, it keeps track of all your submissions. You can search by fiction or nonfiction and even by word count. It's really great. It's $50 per year to have a membership. I think it's totally worth it. There are some free websites that have copied this idea, but I have found they just don't have all the same markets or are as useful.

    Also, you might want to read more short stories. The fact that you aren't aware that your short stories are an ideal length probably means you haven't read enough of them. You can never read too many, right?
     
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  10. KhalieLa

    KhalieLa It's not a lie, it's fiction. Contributor

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    You're right. I seldom read short stories and own exactly 3 anthologies. Mostly I read nonfiction & when I do read fiction, its generally novels.
     
  11. OurJud

    OurJud Contributor Contributor

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    I don't have a length for entire novels or stories, but the oddest thing is happening as I'm writing my novel. I use a separate file for each chapter and am finding that every single one (which usually incorporates one 'event') is coming in at 1,000, give or take 100 either side.

    It's not something I'm doing consciously, but every chapter I write always gets wrapped up neatly within a hundred words of this figure. It's quite bizarre.
     
  12. Alex R. Encomienda

    Alex R. Encomienda Senior Member

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    Nice! Where do you write your article at? I've been writing some album reviews on Wordpress but I don't get much of an audience there.
     

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