Sunday, 22 May 2011

We're Reading and Writing More Short Stories

The reason is obvious, isn't it? Our Twenty-First Century Lifestyle almost demands that we do. For one thing, we're involved in more activities and tasks than ever before, and we probably won't slow down. Our time for leisure reading becomes shorter and shorter.

Whoever invented the eReader is a genius, because the device is tailor-made for an important segment of the reading public. Keep in mind, though—longer novels and prints still reign in the group overall. I, for one, am happy about this fact because I read full-length novels all the time.

Writing a short story, however, is not as easy as it seems. Yes, 1,500 to 20,000 words sounds much easier to write than 80,000, but the short story's compact nature demands finesse—careful use of each and every word. I know…I've experienced a crash course writing shorts.

The Wild Rose Press asks for Free Reads from each author who wishes to participate. This was a big learning experience for me. Length—1500 words, max. Diving into the task, I had a brainstorm and wrote a short in record time. The title is The Wedding Auction, and it's still available on TWRP's website.

However, The Wedding Auction contained 3,000 words. I told the editor I could not shorten it. She said, yes, you can, and proceeded to give me a few hints on words or phrases to exclude. I trimmed it to 2,200 and informed her—"this is it. I can't shorten it anymore." She pushed me once again, and I even resorted to begging her to do it for me! I'm not a quitter, though, so I worked harder.

After succeeding with this first Free Read, I wrote two more: Merry Christmas, Victoria and Wishes Do Come True. All three Free Reads are Western Historical Romances found on my page at:
 The Wild Rose Press:

I still prefer writing longer novels, but creating short stories gives a certain satisfaction that is different from writing longer ones.

Recently, I came involved with Victory Tales Press, owned and operated by Rebecca Vickery. She and her artist, Laura Shinn, publish themed anthologies consisting of four authors. I had the pleasure of contributing to one last Christmas: A Christmas Collection-Sensual. My story is titled: Angel and the Cowboy

This week, VTP released A Western Saga, four short stories about descendents of the fictional McTavish family who migrated west in the early 1800s. The anthology contains another of my contributions, and is available in print and eBook at Amazon. My story is titled:
Along Came Will

If you enjoy short stories—1500-20,000 words, I hope you find one to try within this post.
Thank you!
Celia Yeary-Romance...and a little bit 'o Texas


Lindsay Townsend said...

Congratulations, Celia, on your short stories! You're right, they are much harder to write than people realise and a form where every word has to count.

I love your intriguing titles - how do you 'get' those?

Pretty covers!

I think it's great there are so many different writing markets out there now, for both readers and writers.

Celia Yeary said...

Good morning Lindsay--titles. They usually just pop up, something that's in the novel.
But on the 1500 word Merry Christmas, Victoria--I named it Victoria's Christmas. The editor said it sounded like "Victoria's Secret." We went back and forth with variations until the simple--"Merry Christmas, Victoria" came to the end, the hero says, "Merry Christmas, Victoria." How obvious.

"Along Came Will"--had no title for a long time. I temporarily named it "A Gentle Romance," something stupid, but in the story Aunt Lavinia says to the heroine, Kathryn, in response to Kathryn's lameting there were no interesting men in town, "But then, dearest, along came Will." Again...obvious.

Linda Acaster said...

I often think cutting isn't the answer when over 20% needs to go, and that a read thru, put it in a drawer and then rewrite blind works better for the overall flow. I take my hat off to you, Celia, that you managed it.

Good luck with your new one "A Western Saga".

Celia Yeary said...

Linda--I do agree, except in the case of the Free Reads, the absolute limit was 1500. That's about nine pages, and the three I wrote only needed--deserved?--nine pages. One problem, one solution, everybody happy.
But when I'm asked to cut, say 20% as you say, then no, I won't agree on general principle.
Writing short stories have actually helped me maintain that thought of "stay on topic", because I do often stray! Thanks for your comment...Celia

Savanna Kougar said...

Hi Celia, you've been busy. Congrats on all your short stories. There is certainly a learning curve for every length. I think the story's initial focus has a lot to do with it. And, usually, the title of my books ends up being a line from the story. Sometimes, intentionally, and sometimes by happy afterthought.

Celia Yeary said...

Hi, Savanna!You know what? Not long ago I read an editor's blog and she said NEVER title your book by using a line in the text. I didn't agree with that advice then, and I don't now.
I think it can be overdone, but it annoys me to read a title of a novel and have not earthly clue what the book is about.
Famous titles tell us: Gone With the Wind (I believe taken from the text); Splendor in the Grass; The Godfather; etc.
I can't think of titles right now that told me nothing, but I could find some.
Thanks for commenting! Celia

Savanna Kougar said...

Celia, interesting about the editor. I certainly wouldn't want that particular editor for my books. Some of the best romance books I've ever read used a line as the title, and it was perfect.

Yeah, okay, I get tired of the ubiquitous titles out now... like Saving Jennifer, Saving Sharon... whatever. It may be a great read, however the title certainly doesn't inspire me. And, yes, I'm stepping on toes, but how many times can you use the same word as a title? And have it mean anything? Of course, sometimes, they add all this subtitle stuff.
But, whatever makes everyone happy.

Celia Yeary said...

SAVANNA--okay, dearest, since you opened the door. Those I really, REALLY hate? The So-and-so's Daughter. Do you know how many there are?
The very first one I read was The Tailor's Daughter, and it was an outstanding story. A romance hidden within the throes of the daughters's loss of hearing...all kinds of things. Then there was The Memory Keeper's Daughter, and The Sorcerer's Daughter, and The Grave Digger's Daughter (I am not kidding), and The Gambler's lands, it goes on and on. I won't read any of them.
Now, it's The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Next, The Girl With the Dragon Tatoo...and here we go again.
However, somehow, they all end up on the NY Best Sellers List. Maybe we're missing something?
Okay. I'm done. I've had my say.
Have a good night, Savanna...I always enjoy talking with you! Celia

Savanna Kougar said...

Me, too. Goodnight, Celia

Cheryl Pierson said...

Celia, I am cracking up. That "daughter" thing in the title is one of my pet peeves, too, and Savanna, the redundant word in the title (like "saving") irritates me, too. Titles are sometimes hard, aren't they, but Celia, I love taking the title from the text and usually DO!And I love the title ALONG CAME WILL--how perfect! I am looking forward to reading that one. In my story in the Western Saga, EVERY GIRL'S DREAM, that line came from a conversation between the heroine and one of the secondary characters who is questioning the heroine's feelings for the hero. My upcoming story for the Summer Collection is titled One Magic Night, and is just a little varied from when the characters are talking about the magic that happened that night. I think that is a lot more meaningful than settling on one word and using it over and over in a series. Good grief! LOL Great post!

LK Hunsaker said...

Hi Celia, I enjoy your shorts. You capture the heart of the matter and leave us refreshed. ;-)

I read The Gravedigger's Daughter - at least the one by Joyce Carol Oates. Beautiful book, and I get why it's called that: she identifies herself with her father's profession, which is often the case. Still, I don't like anything too overdoen, either.

StephB said...

I've enjoyed the shorts I've read from you. I agree - writing short stories requires finesse to get to the heart of the matter, but when you finish the writing, it's a very rewarding feeling.


Mona Risk said...

I've never read shorts yet. But I think I am going to read AND write shorter stories. I can understand that readers are always on the rush, read on their eReader in airports, buses, at lunchtime and so on. They can't afford to spend hours on reading.

Celia Yeary said...

CHERYL-titles are usually pretty easy, sort of obvious. I do hate cutesy titles. I can't think of any right now, but if I went to the library New Book shelf, I could find several examples. But with Crystal Lake Reunion, I had the hardest time. It had about six different titles, and I could not figure out what I wanted. Even though this title seems perfect now, at first it sounded like,,,well, a high school reunion story--which is isn't. Well, yes it is, but it's only to get my heroine to this small town. Confused? Hmmm-mmm. Me, too. Celia

Celia Yeary said...

LK--oh, the Gravedigger;s Daughter was a Joyce Carol Oates novel? I didn't know. See how titles can prejudice one against the book? Celia

Celia Yeary said...

STEPH--yes, that's the word--rewarding. That's why I'm enjoying short more and more. Celia

Celia Yeary said...

MONA--I didn't read shorts, either. I wrote them before I read any others. Weird, huh. In retrospect? I like writing shorts better than reading them. When I read, I really want an entire novel. Celia

Linda Swift said...

So I'm only six days late. Wish I'd realized you were here sooner. Sorry. And even though it may never be read, I'll add my pet peeve about titles. To take a three or four word title of a famous book or popular movie and change one word and make this a title really bothers me. Example: Gone With The Wind changed to Gone With The Monster. I feel the author doesn't have any imagination at all and I refuse to even consider reading the book. There, that felt good. Thanks for the chance to get that out of my system! Linda