Sunday, February 12, 2006

Whip it Out and Measure

It's about time we start with some of the basics, and that always begins with learning the right words for the job at hand. So to start I decided upon names for stories, something which is based on length. Most of the numbers I'm quoting come from guidelines set out by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, know under the simplified acronym SFWA. They are something of a big sister, or so it seems to me, of the HWA--Horror Writers Association--of which I am, so far, still a provisional Affiliate member. As an active and somewhat large organisation I would tend to think the SFWA should know what it's talking about in these matters.

Flash Fiction is the same as a short short story, but is often less than 500 words, and in some circles available as 100 word stories. I pretty much dismiss the under 100 words stories. If people can't pay attention longer than that, or want a story so bereft of anything, well I don't want to have anything to do with it.

A Short Short Story is a very short short story, usually between 250 and 1000 words. I haven't seen much call for this in the horror genre and it seems a bit counter-intuitive, too much for the attention deficit, get-to-the-point people, and not enough to have much ambition story-wise.

The traditional and respectable Short Story is anything under 7,500 words. It would seem though that no one much wants more than 5,000 words, and I've seen what I considering distressing signs where they tend toward 4, 000 words, or even worse 3,000 words maximum.

Above that we have the Novelette which is between 7,500 and 17,499 words. This would seem to be the starting territory of Stephen King length works. That may be an exaggeration, I don't know for sure. I have a story that is 28 pages long and it's approximately 7,200 words. Though certainly King does have his super-sized short stories often enough by today's standards.

A Novella is between 17,500 and 39,999 words. Clive Barker's “The Hellbound Heart”, which is the original “Hellraiser” book, is considered a novella. Stephen King's book “Different Seasons” is a collection of four novellas. Those stories of course are pretty famous and include “The Body” which was made into “Stand by Me”, and “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption” which should need no further explanation.

Then we have the ubiquitous Novel which is 40,000 or more words long. This is where I really want to be working and I don't mind repeating that fact ad nauseum. Next time up we have the “Chapbook” and just how do you figure out the number of words, as well as, maybe, an argument for why I prefer longer works.

Mood: down.
Music: Back in the Village by Iron Maiden and The Retched by Nine Inch Nails.

Iron Maiden: Powerslave
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Nine Inch Nails: The Fragile

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