1. GB reader

    GB reader Active Member

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    Why are many short stories not fantasy?

    Discussion in 'Fantasy' started by GB reader, Sep 6, 2017.

    We have seen some debate started by Ed from ny,
    What is it about fantasy becoming so popular (I could not find the exact thread name)
    The debate soon got into : fantasy is easy to write as there are no rules.
    That's why so many new writers choose that genre.

    And then the arguments started coming.
    There were good arguments on both sides and the thread didn't end bad.

    However I have only been here 4 months but I think if you look a what is shown here short stories (complete stories) are more often strait world stories (no magic, no dragons, no aliens)

    But when we are shown just a small part of some WIP, it's more often fantasy.

    So.
    Does fantasy not lend itself for short stories as well as in the novel format?

    My opinion is.
    Fantasy is much harder to do (good fantasy).

    Even if there are no rules your world must differ from our world to the extent that there are significant differences and magic and dragons and aliens and science.
    You are into massive info dumps that you must handle.

    When you stay in the real world you can take so much for granted.

    In my last short story I had two scenes, in a auto repair shop, in a pub.
    I had relationship between a man and and woman, and the dynamics between 4 couples.
    There are hundreds of things I don't have to say because the reader and I know those things.
    I don't have to say anything, you are in a pub, it's saturday, the band starts to play.
    Anyone that has been there will fill in details that they need to get the picture.

    I only need 5 words to show the romantic interest between two people.
    Because we know this world!

    In a short story (flash fiction even more) there is no time to build world's. Your 5000 words are gone before you even have described the Yereska continent, and you didn't even describe the trading routes to the other continents.

    Opinions on this?
     
  2. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor Community Volunteer

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    I wouldn't agree that fantasy isn't necessarily harder, but not-this-world fantasy generally means that more space must be given to context, and short stories don't have a lot of space to spare.

    So I pretty much agree with you, except I quibble about "harder" versus "different."
     
  3. The Dapper Hooligan

    The Dapper Hooligan Contributing Member

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    Pretty much this. It's not that fantasy has no rules, there are rules, but the author has to make them. Because these rules are different from the rules of our regular world, the author has to explain these rules to us so we know what to expect from them. Short stories in our own universe can be shorter because we can make certain assumptions about how our world works and everyone is okay with that. You hit the gas pedal and, unless you're driving a Geo, the car goes faster. If your character is riding a Xxoerthank, however, and they want to go faster, you're going to have to explain how they do that, why if works (maybe), and what the heck a whatever what I just said actually is. Taking the time to do this usually bumps the word count from the short story range to novella. People do write tonnes of fantasy short stories set in universes with already established rules, though. This is literally, like, all fan fiction and things like The Silmarillion which was basically a series of short stories Tolkien set in the world he has already created.
     
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  4. bananafish

    bananafish Member

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    In my opinion, it would be so much harder to accomplish decent world-building in a short story.
    But when an author creates a full fantasy series of novels, and then writes short stories in the same (pre-established) world....that's amazing when that happens.
     
  5. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin Contributing Member

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    Nah, it's doable. Just keep the writing tight and the explanation to a minimum, which it should be anyway.
     
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  6. deadrats

    deadrats Contributing Member Contributor

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    Writing a good fantasy short story is no harder than writing any good short story. And a forum sampling is far from any industry trend. There are whole publications dedicated to fantasy short stories. If this is something you are interested in, start with those. But I can't tell, maybe you just wanted to complain about something you find difficult.
     
  7. Xboxlover

    Xboxlover Contributing Member

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    Woah Woah who the hell said fantasy was easy... I have a shit ton of rules in my universe. Its a science and magic thing science does some things, magic can't always be explained but has its concrete rules as well. It's a b word to keep up with in my manual alone I practically wrote the manual on the off chance it could be turned into a game. Games get complicated. On top of the magic aspect of it, I have to keep up with over a dozen different religions for each of 5 different worlds. Philosophy and thought, politics (Theirs not ours) and on top of it displaying it in a believable way is the hardest part of it. I'm crossing into sci fi fantasy in some cases. I would say people who think fantasy is easy also think of it as being run of the mill d and d styled stuff.
    Building my fantasy manual has been the single hardest thing of my life. Rules, worlds: making sure they can support life properly, star systems-calendars: calculating time and distance from the sun so that passage of time is believable (For the nerds who pick that crap apart) or another religions, cultures, inventions, environment, infrastructure, economy, magic, medicine, magical healing, class systems, government, politics, character, and character development arcs, maps (Hand drawn to keep consistent tracking on character movement) the list goes on if its mentioned or used in my story it's going to be written and research or is already down. I've spent over a decade putting this story together in my head and on paper.... I don't like hearing its easy. Its that hardest thing I've done in my life.
     
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  8. Xboxlover

    Xboxlover Contributing Member

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    I would think short stories are just as hard because one has to say what they need to say in the least amount of words in the most effective way. Space issue is a brat.
    I've broken my outlines into estimated/desired word counts for each chapter. It can sometimes be hard to not go over and sometimes I come under. Not necessarily a bad thing either way but it can if it's not done right. I imagine this poses a problem for shorter works for writers and publishers. Newspapers writers especially have a hard time. (Husband can tell you about that: deadlines word count and need to cover a topic as best as you can in a "whole or both sides" can be hard.
     
  9. Pyra Sunny

    Pyra Sunny Member

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    I am primarily a fantasy writer, and I can't write short stories. Period. The end. I start to write a short story, make the rules very similar to real life but off enough to make it fantasy, and then ten thousand words later I'm looking at it and wondering how this could ever have been short. I don't think it has to do with it being fantasy, though. I believe it's just the way I'm wired.
     
  10. TWErvin2

    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    The world building aspect to fantasy adds words, which makes it more difficult to keep a fantasy story under word counts that many markets prefer.

    It's not impossible, just a little more challenging.
     
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  11. izzybot

    izzybot Oportet Vivere Contributor

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    What a strange thread. There's an entire market of fantasy and sci-fi short stories. It's not like they don't exist.
     
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  12. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor Community Volunteer

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    I think that I've always thought of all the fantasy and science fiction magazines as being all science fiction. But once I say that, I realize that, for example, The Brave Little Toaster can't be argued as science fiction.
     
  13. izzybot

    izzybot Oportet Vivere Contributor

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    When I was routinely submitting to sff magazines a while back I definitely remember multiple submission guideline pages mentioning that they especially wanted (harder) sf, because they were flush with fantasy. I didn't/don't have the dosh to subscribe to all of these mags or buy them regularly, but a lot of the free content I peeked at also fell more under fantasy as far as I was concerned. Very very soft sf, I guess, maybe. But I mean, whether it's the sf or the f in the equation, you can do similar amounts of worldbuilding. Obviously you can't pack sprawling epic intricate high fantasy into 5k but that doesn't mean there's just no fantasy.

    Seriously, this thread feels like it came from an alternate reality to mine :confused:
     
  14. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor Community Volunteer

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    I suspect that people think of the giant-world fantasy when they hear the word "fantasy".
     
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  15. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin Contributing Member

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    Great movie. Highly subversive. Our products love us, so we must love them. Consumerism. My favorite character was the electric blanket:

    [​IMG]

    He had gravitas.
     
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  16. xanadu

    xanadu Contributing Member Contributor

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    Ditch the worldbuilding and write convincingly enough for the reader to accept things as they are (or as you tell them they are). Not everything needs an explanation, especially in short stories.
     
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  17. jannert

    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I would suggest that old-fashioned fairy and folk tales are 'fantasy' and they are short. The thing is, they usually sum up the worldbuilding rather quickly, then get on with the story. You could do worse than revisit some of them, particularly the ones you don't associate with your childhood, and see how it's done.
     
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  18. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    Do you not agree that fantasy is a much rare genre in short stories than in novels? I'm a short story junkie and I definitely agree. Most SFF short stories are SF.
     
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  19. izzybot

    izzybot Oportet Vivere Contributor

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    I mean, I'm far from an expert and my reading tastes are more towards SF, so I'm definitely coming at it with a bias. But I'd agree that fantasy novels are more prominent than shorts - probably because they lend themselves better to the sprawling epic type of fantasy. It's just strange to me to think that that's the only way to do fantasy / fantasy is harder to do in short form than anything else. I don't think that's the case, for sure.

    I really don't know, from personal experience, if there's more SF than F in short fiction out there. I'll take your word for it! All's I know is the mags I was submitting to were like "Please stop," so I assumed there was plenty, at least at the time. In fairness, I also read a few that were classified as SF that I thought were more fantastical or general spec fic-y (even one of mine; I didn't consider it SF but it had a robot so I guess that's what matters, eh).
     
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  20. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin Contributing Member

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    That's the way I look at it. World-building gets super lame if the author needs to stop the story to do it. Or contrive scenes to show things that the characters should know about their world already.
     
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  21. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    @izzybot Totally agree it isn't harder. But I do think the OP is on to something in that fantasy short stories are relatively rare. Who knows why? Probably aliens.
     
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  22. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll Of course I am serious. :P Contributor

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    Laurel K Hamilton's Strange Candy has quite a few Fantasy shorts in the
    shorts collection of hers. I rather enjoyed them to her Anita Blake series. :p
    Look for older books that are shorts collections, I am sure you will find more
    Fantasy shorts. Also a short is not limited to 5k, but can be much longer as long
    as it does not meet the word count of a Novella. So it can be a good 30-35K and
    still be a short. :p

    Or you could write your own Fantasy shorts. :)
     
  23. jannert

    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    It could be that one of the main motivators for most Fantasy writers is worldbuilding. They want the sprawling epic, not a fast short story. I don't know this for sure, but I suspect. Think of all the fantasy writers on this forum who aren't just writing a fantasy novel, but a SERIES of fantasy novels set in the same world. I think that's what many Fantasy writers enjoy doing.
     
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  24. Stormburn

    Stormburn Active Member

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    The poster has made me think. I'm assuming you are talking about the lack of fantasy short stories posted on these forums. Even though I'm writing a high fantasy series, all of my short stories(maybe with the exception of the ME-110 crash landing in the Field of Dreams) have been horror or Science Fiction (and that is almost 5000 words). As several others have said, it's probably the world-building aspects that is the challenge. It's takes a skill/experience writer to world build with a minimum of words. I know that I'm not there yet. I learned a lot from my effort to do a period/horror piece.
     
  25. Bolu Kai

    Bolu Kai Member

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    All of the following is my opinion based on observation:

    It's funny that I found this thread. Not too long ago was I looking for an anthology of fantasy short stories. I couldn't find one that was strictly fantasy. I feel like fantasy short fiction is more difficult to find than science fiction. One of the answers to this problem might be that we don't have a model to borrow from. Look at epic fantasy novels. For the most part, fantasy novels "copy" Tolkien. Tolkien "copied" from mythology. With that said, I feel like most people think of fantasy like Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones when they hear "fantasy." We hear the word "fantasy" and immediately associate that word with large, well-developed fantasy worlds. The fantasy genre is much more than that well-developed world. I don't know, I guess short fiction fantasy writers need to look at their plate and decide what can be digested in a short amount of time. Fantasy short stories may need a different focus than the detailed worlds we see in novels; there aren't enough pages to include a large world like Middle-earth. Actually, if you think about it, there are plenty of short fantasy fictions out there. Look at mythology; there are plenty of short fantastical tales. How do we modernize the short stories from mythology to satisfy current short fiction fantasy readers? :unsure::unsure::unsure::unsure:

    PS Stone Mattress by Margaret Atwood has some interesting short stories.
     

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