After finishing the latest draft of Holland Bay, I dove into short stories. I split my time between crime and SF, using the SF shorts to lay the foundation for the world I’m building for the novel.
The funny thing is that the crime shorts are usually over and done with in 3000-4000 words. The first SF short now making rounds checks in at under 6000 words. The second one, which I packed off to my new writing group, is about 4600. The SF writing is a lot tighter than it was when I made my first attempts early last year, but world-building is a wordy business.
In some ways, it’s quite satisfying to finish a first draft in a week to ten days. It’s also satisfying to have three works out making rounds in less than six weeks. Not only will a new Kepler appear in an anthology this fall, but there’s a second one, this one featuring Elaine, in the can.
Since restarting Holland Bay, I’ve had to keep writing. What happens a lot of writers is that they lose momentum after a novel, then when it comes time for the next project, it’s hard to get started. That happened to me a couple of times before. But there is an adjustment. A novel, whether it is written in first person or third, has room for a large cast of characters, multiple subplots, and lots of dialog and description. Short stories?
You have to narrow the focus. You can have only a handful of characters, often only two or three at most. Most markets want less than 5000 words. SF markets are more forgiving, though it’s not wise for an unknown or a newcomer to test those limits beyond 6000 words or so.
By the time this posts, I’ll be back into novel mode, my alter-ego working on an science fiction book. If it goes smoothly, I’ll be back into shorts by the end of the year. If it doesn’t…
Well, I’ll be hear whining that novels are just so damn long!