Short, shorts and other formats
Unless you’ve been in a hole or outer space over the last few days, you surely noticed that Black Library (my publisher that is) is a hale and hearty 15 years old, and to celebrate they’re publishing 15 really short, short stories over the course of 15 days (see what they did there… nice).
Woot! Cake for everyone.
If you most over to the Black Library site now, you’ll be able to find the stories on the front page. Here’s a link to mine btw… it’s called Only Ash Remains.
Quicky then, it takes place after Nocturne and sort of (unofficially) kicks off the Circle of Fire sequence. It’s only 1,000 words long, so don’t expect massive swathes of story but I reckon there’ll be plenty of juicy little teases in there for fans of the series. Go check it out, and while you’re at it check out the other fantastic 1,000 word stories by my lovely colleagues and fellow writers.
You’ll also be able to find a bunch of stuff on the Black Library Facebook and Twitter feed (oh, and the website itself) where each writer comments on the process of writing a short, short story. Plus there’s some commentary from the other contributing writers on the other stories. Shazam!
Regardless of how long or short a story happens to be, there is definitely a different discipline and skill set required for varying length (oo-err, madam). I know some writers that baulk at having to write a short story and the idea of writing a 1,000 word piece would probably keel them over. Others grow pale at the thought of a novel or just can’t seem to get write that middling length, the novella.
I’ve had a go at pretty much everything. I like the short story format, especially audio (I think it’s the fact it forces me to be so immediate, have lots of dialogue and engage on a more cinematic level), but there’s something satisfying about writing a novella too. Novels tire me out, plain and simple. I am bloody shattered during and after writing a novel (especially a beast like The Great Betrayal which I’m working on now) but you can do so much more in terms of character and plot development. It’s also my bread and better, so I’m not stopping any time soon.
In running terms (as it’s an analogy I understand pretty well), a short, short (let’s say 1-5,000 words) is like a sprint, energised, rapid, urgent; a short story (about 10,000 words) is like a 5k run, you know you’re doing it and can’t fly off like a lunatic but it’s not so long that it takes much out of you; a novella (25-30,000 words) is a 10k race, you need to train a bit, figure out your route, keep a steady pace and push at the end; whereas (and, yes, you’ve guessed it…) a novel is a marathon (or even half marathon), it takes a long time, requires loads of work being put in beforehand and leaves you exhausted but satisfied at the end.