Lately, some current projects have spiralled out of control. This is not strange for me. A short story I was working on, with an eye to a specific anthology, kicked out the 6000 word roadblock and kept racing along. Right now, its double that. And to really do the story justice, it probably needs to be about 30,000. No one publishes workes of 30,000 words right now. WAAAAAY too long for a short story market, and much too short for a novel. I guess it could be serialized, especially since it does follow a pretty specific three-act structure, but you really only get to serialize if you are a big name. Me? Not even a name, let alone one of any size (no fat jokes, please).
And I could bludgeon it down, get it under 20,000 maybe. But It’s a complicated piece which relies on some (if I may say so myself) pretty intricate worldbuilding. So this entire idea is probably not one to be used in a short story. And I really, really don’t have time to start another novel right now.
Fortunately, another story which can easily (at least with some judicious editing) slide in under the word count presented itself, and I’ll be turning that in instead.
And I’m hearing murmers from the publishing world that they’re actively looking for novels now in the 50-60,000 wd range from new authors, and this other idea can easily become that. And that brings up the question I have … do I just write them as they come and put no word count imposition on them, or do I need to find a structure for this type of thing. I always hate it when new (it’s mostly new) writers say “well, i just let the story flow through me,” and more alarmingly, “these characters just started writing themselves and told me what they were going to do.” Yes, if your story is alive, situations and motivations will present themselves to you in surprising and challenging ways, but you’re still in charge of the story. Abdicating your authorial responsibility and just writing what comes to mind usually devolves into lazy cliche. Yes, Jerry B. “I don’t kill off characters I find them dead” Jenkins, I am looking at you.
But this is a digression. Should I be letting the stories be what they want to be, or do I try to get them into some form that has an actual hope of selling? Just wondering …