I’ve been working on a short story lately, which I’ve been enjoying although I’ve also found it challenging. One of the challenges I’m facing is how much story to put in a short story. At the moment, I’m about three quarters through my original story plan and I’m around 6500 words. When I look up short story competitions in the newsletter of my local Writer’s Centre, they’re generally about 2000 to 3000 words. Clearly, mine doesn’t fit into that market.
Referring to a writer’s marketplace reference book shows that some magazines and journals have a much lower word limit (under 1000), but others have up to 10,000. This sits more comfortably with my story.
Now, when I consider how this story is going, I can see opportunities for a more complex plot that will round out my characters and make for a more satisfying read. This will add more words, of course, perhaps bumping it up into the region of a ‘novella’. Is there a market for that? A quick internet search says yes! Particularly on the e-publishing side of things.
Now, you are no doubt wondering why I’m writing a story without knowing if there’s a market out there or not. Is it worth putting time and effort into something I may not be able to sell at the end of it? Well, this is about me stretching myself and developing craft, so no matter what happens I’ll be growing as a writer. I’ll get experience, and the act of finishing something and submitting will inspire me to move on to the next project.
And that’s the life of the writer – one foot in front of the other.