short story collections and why you don’t need 50K in words to make one

Lately there has been so much focus on length that authors and readers are getting all tangled up in the wrong thing. Yes that 50K limit is the starting point for something called a Novel…not a collection, a novel. It is a shorter novel, not a door stop that most people seem to think makes a book worth reading but when talking short stories there is and should be a much different level that should be looked at.

In the modern age of ereaders we no longer have to put out the door stop thickness of any work. Expecting a short story author to hold off publishing their work till they get to some arbitrary length is both silly and stupid.  Short stories by their very definition are SHORT. Most writers in this field tend for a 3k – 5k story but some do shorter still. Waiting until you have a minimum of 50K words that might or might not fit together in a collection would have these writers never publishing.

Now i am sure a lot of writers out there would have no problem with this. They do not understand nor appreciate the amount of work that goes into writing well crafted short stories. Of being able to write a story that is concise and limited in scope, without all the fluff and filler that they use to make their masterpieces of fiction that span upwards of 100K or more at times.

As a writer of short stories, this annoys me in so many ways. I will not go into the arguments I have had with authors about length, about filler and fluff and about style. I have been and will always be a great fan of the shorter forms of fiction. From the hint fictions and micro fictions that I have been experimenting with to the drabbles, dribbles and flash fictions that i have been working on collecting together, to the short stories series that I have all ready published, it is quite obvious to my readers that I write mostly short fiction.

But in all honesty I have been an avid reader of short fiction since I was young. I find a real joy in picking up a collection of one author or an anthology of many. I love discovering short tales that fill my mind with wonder, or introduces me to a new writer. My books shelves over the years have groaned under the weight of the anthologies i have collected. While I lost most of them when I moved to Canada I still have many in ebook format on my computer and I will go back to them between other, longer books on a rainy or snowy afternoon, curled up in a chair. Short stories are a wonderful throw back to older times.

Like I have up on my author page on Amazon:  Short stories are the modern fire side tales.  With a world so crowded with things that have to be done, they allow you a few minutes outside of your life.  Be they a bit of fantasy, science fiction, horror or of an erotic bent, each tale gives you a few minutes outside of your day to enjoy.

It is as true now as it was then. Short stories are well worth reading. By telling a short story writer that they must hold off offering their collections till they have 50K or 100K you are keeping yourself and others from wonderful finds. Yes i admit that my own collections vary in size. Where Guardians of the Gate city’s six stories clocked in at 96K, Death Walks Through 15 tales only clocked in at 42K, Gates: From One Reality to the Next was only 20K with six tales and Distance Means Little to Love had six stories and six poems at 15K. I do think that you cant charge $4.99 for the smaller collections but with the sweet spot for anthologies and collections averaging around $2.99, offering less in total wordage is fine.

If you have been reading my blogs for a while you know i am working on compiling my series into collections. While Echoes of Elders Times has only 24k words it has ten tales in it as it sits. Yes I plan on at least one more tale, an exclusive to the collection but I don’t plan on holding out releasing it and the other 14 collections I am working on till they reach the mythical 50K threshold. If that is wrong, well then I am wrong. And if it is wrong to enjoy collections of only two or three tales by talented indie authors that total less than 10K…well then I guess I am wrong but I will continue to enjoy short stories in every format they come in. Released singly, in collections or in anthologies. The short story is an established format and style of writing and writers who can’t dream of writing short should stop stifling those whose imagination can soar in the shorter forms.


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