It has been awhile, friends! If you don’t hear from me, or see me post, it’s not because I’ve forgotten you, it just means I’m crazy busy writing, editing designing games or painting (whatever is on the hot plate). I’ve been slammed working on our fiction anthology coming out soon! As those of you who backed our Kickstarter and/or read our fan facebook page know, we brought on board Phil Athans (TSR/WotC – Forgotten Realms) to assist with editing and also Darrin Drader to write a short story for the book. But I’ll give you a bigger update on all that later. Today I wanted to talk briefly about word counts.
Over the years I’ve noticed something odd about stories: There are numerous definitions on what lengths short stories, novelettes, novellas and novels should be (That’s not even including the various terms for even shorter stories!) I’ve seen the numbers differ considerably over time.
Personally, I don’t think it’s that big of a deal what they are called or why there needs to be so many categories or so much fuss over it. I’d only make maybe three categories likely (short story, Novella and Novel), but then there are organizations that hand out rewards completely based on word counts and so I guess more categories means more chances to win, so I can’t really complain there!
My own notions on proper length for the various categories don’t quite mesh well with the Word Count wiki on the topic, but as it seems that organizations that reward seem to be using similar numbers, I suppose that’s the one to go with, not the myriad of articles out there giving their own opinions and rules for them.
As for my own stories . . . well, I love digging into my characters heads, introducing complex storylines with lots of subplots and other details and as we’re talking the Cosmoverse Campaign Setting with so many interesting and largely unknown races, cultures, magic and other goodies that require description (if it were Star Wars, I could simply toss out keywords like Jedi and the Force and not have to explain it as much, but strangely, we’re still an unknown, heh), so my brain works and thinks more in the novella to novel category according to the wiki.
Somewhere around those two categories is sweet spot. My stories tend to have several characters and a lot going on. I don’t try to shoot for high word counts—I’m just saying that my mind tends to insist on certain things in my stories that tend to require higher word counts, at least when I’m writing something other than skits and plays. What about you? If you write stories, what word count tends to always come out on top as your sweet spot? Do you care about word counts? Do you think any of us should? For that matter, do you think rewards should be categorized by word count, and if not, by what method?
Looking at the numbers on that wiki, it looks like they’d rate nearly all of the stories in Arcane Synthesis as novelettes and some as novellas. Interestingly, my next project is going to be a novella, but since the wiki is claiming a novel can be as tiny as 40,0001 words (crazy short in my mind—I’d put a novel closer to the 75,000+ category), I guess we might be looking at a novel, folks. I’ll find out when I’m done!
One problem I’ve had is that I have way, way too many stories in the works and ideas for stories and outlines for stories and I don’t have time to write them all during my lifetime, so I’m starting to look at the concept of the novella a little more closely. It is for this reason that I once again did a little search into word counts to see if anything official ever popped up. Seeing such low word counts, I sighed over it as I ate my breakfast this morning.
There’s always been such a disparity between some instances of the various definitions. I think the reward system is what is causing some kind of finality here. If that’s how they are rewarding, then I suppose that holds more weight, even though it was kind of arbitrary to begin with. And there are oddities in some of the word count systems.
One site I found stated a novella was between 20,000 and 50,000 words, but a novel ranged from 70,000-90,000 words. What does that mean for the author who wrote something between 50,001 and 69,999 words or over 90,000? Does the story tear a rift in the fabric of the universe? Do ninjas drop down from the ceiling, and hack you to pieces or throw shurikens at your computer to wipe out the anomaly? Seems kind of silly that anyone would suggest a system like that!
There’s been a number of great novels written at the higher word counts like George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire books, The Order of the Phoenix, Fellowship of the Ring, The Grapes of Wrath, Last of the Mohicans, Les Misérables, and many others, some of which are much longer in length.
Anyway, I can’t wait for you guys to read Arcane Synthesis: A Blended-Genre Anthology. The stories are turning out very cool and I’m sure you are going to love it. We’re making good progress and hope to have it all ready around January of 2015, if all goes well! We’ve had some setbacks, but things are rolling smoothly and I remain hopeful!
As I mentioned, our next project is going to be a novella/novel that is partially finished. If we get the finances we need (hopefully via Kickstarter as we don’t have the budget for it yet) we expect that to come out around third quarter of 2015 and have no doubt you’ll get a kick out of that as well! Good stuff heading your way. The more fans and finances we get, the more top-notch products that will be coming your way. Never stop dreaming. Never give up. Never lose hope!