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Writing: What length to leave it at?

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How do we choose the length of your story?

Now that I’ve build up a decent amount of stories I want to to write I think it’s time to dive right in and start writing again but at what length will I leave them at?

I have a passion for short stories. They are a fantastic way to get a story out of you that you are longing to tell. Done right, and it is a great piece of entertainment. Done wrong, and you feel robbed of a good ending. It’s the “Done right” that makes me want to get short stories down in words and with some fantastic publications publishing short stories in all corners of the world that not only give you publishing credits but exposure too it’s a great reason to write… maybe even get a little cash in your back pocket.

Now, how to choose if what I’m writing will stay a short or grow beyond the normal maximum 7,500 word count?

How I decide my word count is by coming up with a premise, writing the introduction and letting it flow from there. There are times when the story demands more words. Less than 10,000 simply isn’t enough to tell the story I want to tell. I’ve written two novel length stories (still to be finished ;o) …) and while writing these it just felt like each character had more to say, that finishing it too soon wouldn’t do the story justice. There have been novels I’ve read that feel a little drawn out, that should probably have stayed around the novella length but the beauty of online publishing it seems that smaller formats are more prevalent in the marketplace.

So, I decide the length on feel of the story. Letting it speak for itself.

Let me know how you choose the length of your story?

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  1. #1 by callummclaughlin on August 1, 2014 - 11:18 pm

    I think short stories are great too. For writers they are a good way to get an idea out of their head, as you said, and for readers they are a nice way to get some reading done without any big time commitments.
    Most of my writing is in the novella or novel areas but some places even recognise the novelette as a form (somewhere between a short story and a novella) so I suppose there’s a time and a place for every story, it’s just a case of how many words the writer feels they need to effectively tell their tale.

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    • #2 by David J Delaney on August 11, 2014 - 5:36 pm

      Thanks for the comment. There’s definitely a length for every genre and style out there.

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  2. #3 by coldhandboyack on August 2, 2014 - 12:34 am

    It’s an ongoing problem for me. I used to write too damned long. I may have over corrected and have struggled with too damned short. My target length is always north of 80K. Some genres are better short, like paranormal. Fantasy and science fiction readers expect something a bit longer. Outlining helps, but it’s an ongoing struggle.

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    • #4 by David J Delaney on August 11, 2014 - 5:34 pm

      Thanks for commenting. I try to aim for that 80k mark too as a general guide and 5k for shorts

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  3. #5 by Margaret Lynette Sharp on September 27, 2014 - 8:57 pm

    My stories evolve. I’ve written many very short ones, about one thousand words, and lately I’ve written some longer ones, ten to fifteen thousand words. My current project seems destined to be significantly longer again. I think that I just sense when the story is the right length. But it is so subjective. What *I* like may not necessarily satisfy *everyone*. 🙂

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    • #6 by David J Delaney on September 28, 2014 - 9:29 am

      I seem to do the same. When the story is done, it’s done and the length will be determined from the first and second drafts.

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