The Latest Progress Report for The Guardian

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If you read the lovely Jo Robinson’s post yesterday on getting bored with your current WIP, https://litworldinterviews.wordpress.com/2015/04/23/do-you-love-your-book/ all is not lost. It might just be that you are nearing the end of the particular WIP, even though you don’t realize it.

What do I mean? Read on…

***

I’ve finally realized after many sleepless nights and endless hours of thought that my current science fiction WIP – The Guardian in all likelihood will end up as a long short story. In fact, the more I think about it – it’s a given. Each story always dictates its own length. Despite what many may think, the writer often has no say in the matter. Why? Because once we start a story in a specific way, it inevitably guides you towards where it needs to end, regardless of what you want. In other words, the story is in charge, not you.

In this particular instance, one thing and one thing only brought me to this conclusion. The Guardian’s natural fast pace. The very thought of trying to maintain such a pace until I pass the eighty or one hundred and fifty thousand word mark, simply doesn’t bear thinking about. I did that once many years ago to the detriment of my health, never again. Yes I could have written endless pages of totally boring, nauseous descriptive prose and mind numbing dialogue. But that’s not me these days. That’s not the way I write any more. After many years I’ve finally seen the light!

For the handful of individuals who actually bought and read my scifi novella Cataclysm, (published last year) who got in touch with me privately, the one thing that the majority of you communicated was the fact that I kept it uncluttered and fast paced.

Maintaining a blog like mine soon teaches you how to convey what you want to say with the bare minimum of carefully chosen words.

Many writers still prefer to delude themselves into thinking that writing between eighty and one hundred and fifty thousand words is the only way to go. Not necessarily so, especially in this day and age. The times we live in along with reader tastes have dramatically changed in the last ten years or so, in favour of the shorter literary work. Both of the aforementioned are signs which no writer can now afford to ignore.

Think about it, how many times recently have you read a book from beginning to end, only to forget what it was all about by the time you eventually arrived at the last page, or far worse, wound up totally confused from information overload? Even the top one percent of writers hate having to artificially fill a manuscript merely to keep their literary agent, editor and publisher happy.

I recently learned that busy commuters across the world are my main reading group these days. Fifteeen years ago it was my contemporaries. Times definitely change…

As an Indie, I now only have to please myself and the wishes of the modern commuting reader who wants a fast paced story, paired down to the essential nitty gritty, and of course, told well. So now that I’ve finally made the decision, based purely on the way the story is panning out, I’ll be heading towards the first of several possible conclusions. I’ll settle on which one over the next few weeks.

I’ve only ever written one novel (back in 2003) that exceeded one hundred and fifty thousand words. The fact that writing it led to my suffering a total mental breakdown brought on by the stress of it all, which damn near ended me, should be a salutary lesson for anyone contemplating writing such a lengthy work.

The novel in question became my first published work back in 2010. It was a science fiction space opera entitled Onet’s Tale. While it still appears on Amazon, it is no longer available. Besides my paperback ‘author’ copy, and my Kindle one, I still have it as an unedited .pdf file for anyone who wants to read it. If you want an unbiased view about it, ask Chris The Storyreading Ape what he thought. He read the .pdf version.

I’m not an old stick in the mud. I do take notice of trends. Now I’d better get back to it. If anyone thinks that writing is easy, tell them to just try pairing down a story to its absolute essentials as I did with CataclysmΒ last year, and am currently doing with The Guardian, to suit a specific emerging eBook market – the busy commuter. The things we do for our readers eh?

PS – because it will be a long short story, when the time comes I’ll price it at a mere US$0.99. If Amazon allowed it, I would like it to be even cheaper. But unfortunately Amazon doesn’t do Permafree.

Be good…

πŸ˜‰

10 thoughts on “The Latest Progress Report for The Guardian

  1. Absolutely right Jack! The story chooses its own length. I’ve discovered that too. And you are right that short stories, novelettes and novellas are trending right now. I have both on the go right now, in relation to my trilogy. I suspect Book 3 will be shorter than Book 2. Do you think that matters? (Its YA)

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  2. There is a possible way to get it perma-free in Amazon, but it involves publishing it elsewhere (Smashwords or Draft2Digital, or Kobo, Barnes and Noble, Apple… wherever) and making it free somewhere else. They match prices so it’s only a matter of somebody reporting that the book is free elsewhere. I don’t know of any way to do it perma free in Amazon otherwise (unless you publish it in the blog or Wattpad and they become aware of it). But I agree with you about the length of stories. They have a life (and a will) of their own.

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