I went over to Hitting the Hot Spot. If you don't know it, it's Total-E-Bound's blog and I've linked it up there. Anyway, my good friend Kris Norris was blogging about short stories and I have to say, I am behind her rant one hundred percent. Hence, the re-posting of it here....
So, I have a question, which may take a while to get to, but rest assured, it's in here. When I first started writing stories, I have to confess that I never really considered the length of said story. I had an idea and ran with it until it was done. Now remember, that at this point, I considered a novel, just that, a novel. Though I'd read a ton of ebooks, they were always novel length. I'd never ventured into the realm of shorts or novellas, always choosing stories that were just digital versions of the books I'd buy in the stores. I'm not sure if I equated shorts to stories I'd see only in collections or the kind of stuff you'd submit to magazines, but I hadn't considered short stories in their own right.
After a couple of books were contracted, I was informed (nicely, of course) that shorter stories sold better in e-form. Quite honestly, I was shocked. I mean, to me, I thought readers would want to read a full book. I didn't realize there were such tasty treats out there as the Lust Bites and Novellas found at TEB. Needless to say, I've since written a few of these, though my heart is still in the grand tales. I love epic adventures that allow me time to develop characters and weave intricacies into the plot line. It took me a while to figure out how to condense a thought into just a single event and build the plot around that event.
Okay, getting to the question part...really.
As I've been flipping through some different sites lately, some personal sites, some commercial, I've come across a number of reviews or ratings where the reviewer/rater has given a story a so-so review based mostly on the fact it was too short. There are common comments, such as...the characters weren't as developed as I wanted, and the plot wasn't as intricate as I'd hoped it be, I'd have liked more back-story...
Now everyone is allowed their opinion, and I'm truly not knocking reviews or ratings of books. We all get some great and some not-so-great ones. But I was puzzled by these comments. I mean...what is the reader expecting in a 15,000 word story? It's hardly enough time to introduce a plot, add some angst, get to the 'hot' stuff and resolve everything before one's time is up! So it made me wonder if readers are expecting a fully developed novel shrunk down into a pint-size offering?
Is this true? And if so, are authors falling short or are readers really expecting too much for the reality of the situation?
For me, as a reader, I look at the length of a book and adjust my expectations a bit. I know, if it's a short story that's part of a collection, that it's really going to be more of a snap-shot into the lives of the characters, not a full journey. I still expect a storyline, but I don't anticipate it'll be as involved as a story twice it's length, simply knowing there isn't enough time to get it all in. I want character development, but I don't expect it will be mind-altering in such a short space.
Perhaps it being a writer and knowing that 2000 words can be the difference in the plot being full rather than a bit sparse. That 2000 words can be the ending you've always wanted versus a quicker wrap up than intended. I think I give authors a bit of a break realizing they're working on restrictions imposed by the publisher and that they're trying to give you as rich an experience as they can within a very short space.
So...what is everyone's opinion on this? Do you expect a full novel in a short version? Do you take into account the length of a story before you make any expectations? If short sells better, but every comment is... I wish it was longer... how do authors please their readers if their shorter offerings are looked at as not quite complete, but folks won't buy the larger ones?
I'd also love to know why readers prefer short? Is it having to read on a computer, though with the iPad and e-readers now available, I think this argument will soon be a thing of the past? Is it the desire for instant gratification where you know you can sit down and finish a book in an evening? Does it come down to cost?
Any insight is welcomed. But before I leave you, I wanted to announce that Deadly Obsession is now available in PRINT!!!! Yeah!!! It is, of course, a long book and I'm hoping the option to read it more conventionally will help make it a success, but either way, I'll still write longer novels because I love epic adventures.
Romancing life...one adventure at a time.