Hidden Rooms in the Basement

By Joe Moore
@JoeMoore_writer

Last Sunday, James Scott Bell gave us a great look back at his High School basketball conquests, described how it felt to be in “the zone”, related his successes to writing, and gave some excellent tips on how to develop mental muscle memory to make it easier to enter the zone on a constant basis.

Today, I wanted to expand on the zone concept. A beginning writer once asked me: “I’ve heard authors talk of being ‘in the zone’ regarding their writing, which I take to mean being in an altered state of extreme creativity. But how, without drugs or other stimulus, do you get into that state?”

In fact, as Jim mentioned, we hear the term in the zone used often, not only with writers, but athletes, artists, and just about any activity that requires skill, creativity and concentration.

So what is “the zone” and how do we enter it? Why is it so hard to remain there for extended periods of time?

Being in the zone can last for a few minutes, a couple of hours or a whole day. For those that never seem to enter the zone, it might be because they try too hard to do so. Sort of like when we stop trying to solve a problem, the solution suddenly comes to us through our subconscious, again as Jim calls “the boys in the basement”.

Let’s try to define what being in the zone means, especially when it relates to writing. For me, it’s a mental state where time seems to disappear and my productivity greatly exceeds normal output. It might start after I’ve finished lunch and sat down at my PC to work on a new chapter. Without any feeling of the passage of time, I suddenly realize a couple of hours have gone by and I’ve produced 1000 words or more. I don’t remember the passage of time or anything that deals with my surroundings. I only remember “living” or becoming immersed in the story’s moment, having the words flow from a deeper source, and “awakening” from the writing zone as if only a few moments have passed.

I’ve never been hypnotized, but I can assume that being in the zone is somewhat like self-hypnosis. My body remains in the here-and-now, but my creative senses somehow find a hidden room inside my mind, a place normally under lock and key. And I’m able to enter it for a short time to let what’s there emerge into the light of day.

It can also feel like driving down the Interstate on a long trip deep in thought or chatting on a hands-free cell phone and suddenly realize I can’t remember the past 10 miles.

I’ve also never been athletic, but judging from Jim’s story, I bet it’s a similar scenario: a golfer is able to tune out the surrounding crowd of tournament spectators, the dozens of network cameras, the worldwide audience, the cheers from the distant gallery as his opponents make a great putt, and he’s able to enter a place where only his game stretches out before him. The rest slips by in a blur. Personal mind control.

So, in addition to Jim’s tips, what are some additional methods for getting into the zone? Some writers use the “running start” technique by reading the previous day’s work or chapter. It gets them back into the story and hopefully the new words start to flow.

Others listen to music. This is something I often do. Nothing with lyrics, though. I listen to movie scores or piano and guitar solos. I find that it can help set a mood or become background “white noise” that blocks out other audible distractions. That’s because, for me, the biggest obstacle is distractions. It’s important to reduce interruptions and distractions by creating an environment where they are minimized. This means shutting my office door, closing the drapes on the windows, unplugging the phone, disconnecting Internet access, and most of all, choosing a time to write when those things can be fully managed. Doing away with distractions is no guarantee that I will enter the zone at will, but it does give me a fighting chance to at least knock on the door to one of those dark, hidden rooms in the basement and let my story flow.

OK, Zoner’s. What does it feel like for you to be in “the zone”? Any tips on how you make it happen?

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Dress for Success

By Joe Moore

Can the introverted writer succeed? I think the answer is yes. Just about any writer can succeed given the right set of circumstances including big doses of talent and luck. Of course we could say the same holds true for winning the lottery; given the right set of numbers, anyone can be a winner.

But whether you’re introverted and shy or known as the life of the party, I believe the first step to becoming a successful writer is to adapt a successful attitude. By that I mean, if you act like a success, there’s a good chance the world around you will treat you in like manner.

We could get into a heavy discussion of what success means, but that’s for another day. In general, for some, success means big money and a slot on the bestseller list. Others feel successful in just completing a manuscript. Certainly it’s important that each of us determine what we consider to be a success and then work toward it. Not defining success for yourself could mean you might not know if you’ve achieved it. In the end, it doesn’t really matter. I believe that success is just a state of mind.

If you don’t feel that you’ve achieved success in your writing yet, it shouldn’t stop you from limo1taking on a successful attitude. My advice is to act successful now in anticipation of becoming successful later. No, I don’t mean spending thousands on fancy clothes or showing up at a book signing in a Lincoln stretch limo. Nor do I suggest lying about your success or attempting to deceive anyone.

Having a positive attitude is not deceit. In fact, it’s addictive and usually produces successful results.

Someone once said, “You are what you eat.” I think that concept goes way beyond nutrition. For example, if you complain about rejection from traditional publishers and agents, or constantly bad mouth the state of the publishing industry, chances are you will develop a self-fulfilling prophecy. Those things that you find negative will continue to come your way. Your writing will suffer, your head will become clouded, and at some point, you will consider yourself a failure because you just might be.

Have you ever said, “Those New York publishers only want books from bestselling authors and famous people. I haven’t got a chance.” Or, “I’ve read about someone who self-published and sold millions of copies. The big publishers came begging. That’s my plan.” My advice: go buy a lottery ticket. The odds of success are about the same.

Successful writers (or any profession) become so because they believe in themselves and their ability to succeed. And the more they believe, the more they attract success. Act the part, walk the walk, think as a successful writer would think, and before you know it, your writing improves, you get that first contract, your advances grow, your sales increase, and your publisher pays for the Lincoln stretch limo.
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tomb-cover-smallGoodreads Giveaway!
Register to win one of 10 copies of THE TOMB, book 3 in the Maxine Decker series. Giveaway ends September 14, 2015.

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But first . . .

By Joe Moore
@JoeMoore_writer

Yesterday, my friend, Kris Montee (PJ Parrish), wrote an excellent post called Finding the Right Door to Enter Your Story. If you haven’t read it, do so the moment you finish this. Kris covers the good, bad and ugly of opening lines and chapters.

We’ve often discussed the power (or lack of) that first lines have on the reader. It can’t be emphasized enough how much a first line plays into the scope of the book. For just like first impressions, there is only one shot at a first line. It can set the voice, tone, mood, and overall feel of what’s to come. It can turn you on or put you off—grab you by the throat or shove you away. It’s the fuse that lights the stick of dynamite.

Some first lines are short and to the point—built to create the most impact from a quick jab. Others seem to go on ad infinitum. And only when we arrive at the period at the end do we see how expertly crafted it was for maximum effect. Or not.

So in the spirit of sharing what I consider examples of pure genius, true literary craftsmanship, and genuine artistic excellence, I’d like to share what I think are some of the best first lines in literary history. Let’s start with two of the most famous:

It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents, except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the house-tops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness. —Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, Paul Clifford (1830)

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair. —Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities (1859)

Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. —Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita (1955)

I am an invisible man. —Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man (1952)

The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new. —Samuel Beckett, Murphy (1938)

This is the saddest story I have ever heard. —Ford Madox Ford, The Good Soldier (1915)

It was a wrong number that started it, the telephone ringing three times in the dead of night, and the voice on the other end asking for someone he was not. —Paul Auster, City of Glass (1985)

The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel. —William Gibson, Neuromancer (1984)

All this happened, more or less. —Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five (1969)

If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth. —J. D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye (1951)

Through the fence, between the curling flower spaces, I could see them hitting. —William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury (1929)

Ships at a distance have every man’s wish on board. —Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937)

He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish. —Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea (1952)

It was the day my grandmother exploded. —Iain M. Banks, The Crow Road (1992)

It was a pleasure to burn. —Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451 (1953)

It was love at first sight. —Joseph Heller, Catch-22 (1961)

Once upon a time, there was a woman who discovered she had turned into the wrong person. —Anne Tyler, Back When We Were Grownups (2001)

We started dying before the snow, and like the snow, we continued to fall. —Louise Erdrich, Tracks (1988)

Every summer Lin Kong returned to Goose Village to divorce his wife, Shuyu. —Ha Jin, Waiting (1999)

In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since. —F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby (1925)

“To be born again,” sang Gibreel Farishta tumbling from the heavens, “first you have to die.” —Salman Rushdie, The Satanic Verses (1988)

The seller of lightning rods arrived just ahead of the storm. —Ray Bradbury, Something Wicked This Way Comes (1962)

Granted: I am an inmate of a mental hospital; my keeper is watching me, he never lets me out of his sight; there’s a peephole in the door, and my keeper’s eye is the shade of brown that can never see through a blue-eyed type like me. —GŸnter Grass, The Tin Drum (1959; trans. Ralph Manheim)

In the late summer of that year we lived in a house in a village that looked across the river and the plain to the mountains. —Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms (1929)

He was an inch, perhaps two, under six feet, powerfully built, and he advanced straight at you with a slight stoop of the shoulders, head forward, and a fixed from-under stare which made you think of a charging bull.  —Joseph Conrad, Lord Jim (1900)

The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.  —L. P. Hartley, The Go-Between (1953)

I write this sitting in the kitchen sink. —Dodie Smith, I Capture the Castle (1948)

Of all the things that drive men to sea, the most common disaster, I’ve come to learn, is women. —Charles Johnson, Middle Passage (1990)

In the town, there were two mutes and they were always together. —Carson McCullers, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter (1940)

High, high above the North Pole, on the first day of 1969, two professors of English Literature approached each other at a combined velocity of 1200 miles per hour. —David Lodge, Changing Places (1975)

The cold passed reluctantly from the earth, and the retiring fogs revealed an army stretched out on the hills, resting. —Stephen Crane, The Red Badge of Courage (1895)

Let’s finish with my personal all-time favorite:

It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. —George Orwell, 1984 (1949)

So which ones have I missed? If it’s not on this list, what’s your favorite first line?

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tomb-cover-small_thumbMax is back! THE BLADE, book #3 in the Maxine Decker thriller Series is now available in print and e-book.

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To Age, or Not at All

angel headstone

(Photo by Alexy Sergeev, who retains all rights therein)

My friend and fellow TKZ contributor Joe Moore offered up an excellent post three weeks ago concerning the pros and cons of writing a series versus writing a standalone novel. You can find it here if you wish to refresh your recollection of it. My little offering today is focused upon an issue which arises in a literary series when— oh joy! — it becomes extremely popular and continues for books and books and years and years.  Lurking in that blessing is a problem: do you let your primary characters age gracefully, or not at all?

I have been fascinated with this problem since I was nine years old. I was reading a daily comic strip at the time titled “Dondi.” It was created by Gus Edson and Irwin Hasen and was about a World War II war orphan who was brought back to the United States and adopted by a G.I. The strip had been going for five years by the time I discovered it in 1960; my mother, seeing me reading it, wryly observed that Dondi was the only five-year old kid in 1960 who could still remember World War II. Dondi stayed five until the strip shut down in 1986. This got me thinking about the problem of aging in fiction, one that is confronting a number of authors right now.  No one really expects characters like Spenser or Lucas Davenport or Harry Bosch or Jack Reacher, to age in real time. What occurs in a novel of genre fiction typically takes place over a few days or weeks, with a new novel being published every year or two. I have heard it said that a year in real time translates into a month or two in the world of the fictitious character, less than that if the succeeding book picks up where the previous book left off. The problem, however, is that when you have series that have survived for three decades and beyond that, events in the real world overtake a long-running series. It’s the Dondi problem, if you will: how is it that a veteran of the Vietnam War is tracking a GPS location on their android phone in 2012, all the while climbing fences and taking down the bad-uns like the thirty-something year old they were when the series started in 1982? Even the most youthful characters should be manifesting signs of becoming long in the tooth at that point. Yes, some authors are addressing this to varying degrees. Ace Atkins, who picked up the Spenser reins from the late Robert B. Parker, is slowing him down just a bit, letting age and damage manifest themselves incrementally but irrevocably. Michael Connelly and John Sandford seem to be moving Bosch and Davenport, respectively, into new situations where they might not be quite as physically active as they were twenty or more years ago. James Lee Burke addressed the problem of age brilliantly in LIGHT OF THE WORLD, wherein he appears (and I stress “appears”) to write finis to the darkly poetic accounts of the life of Dave Robicheaux. Age and death may be inevitable; it is tough, however, to contemplate saying goodbye to these folks, to watch them walk upright, if a bit stiffly, into the sunset.  Do they necessarily have to age? Or can they be like Dennis the Menace or Bart Simpson, stuck in the amber of grade school forever?

For those of you honoring me with your presence today…what say you? If you are writing a series, do you plan to age your characters at some point? Do you have an end game planned? Or will they be forever young? And readers of series…what do you think? Do you want your favorite characters to age, or do you prefer them to be forever young? Do you have a preference?

 

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Series vs. Standalone

By Joe Moore
@JoeMoore_writer

My wife and I watched the first episode of TRUE DETECTIVE the other night (HBO original). The new series stars Colin Farrell and Vince Vaughn. We were captivated with last year’s show by the same name, the one starring Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson. It was unique, moody and unnerving. We looked forward to every installment of the back-bayou, gritty Louisiana crime story. Great writing, acting, photography and setting. I haven’t formed a solid opinion of the new one yet, but I can tell you one thing: it is TOTALLY different from season one. I mean, other than the title, there is no resemblance to the first TRUE DETECTIVE. In fact, you could change the title to ANYTHING else and it would make no difference.

Don’t get me wrong. Farrell and Vaughn are great actors. In fact, they’re really movie stars that someone convinced to be on TV. And their acting is top drawer. I always enjoy it when a comic actor takes on a dramatic role and excels in it. Vince Vaughn does just that. And Colin Farrell has never let me down.

But watching the opening episode of TRUE DETECTIVE, season two got me thinking. As an author of thrillers, what’s the best choice for me—writing a series or a standalone? TRUE DETECTIVE is a series—that’s why there are two seasons with the same name. If it were the equivalent of a standalone, it would be called a movie. So as a writer, should I be writing a series or single novel? What are the pros and cons of series vs. standalone?

First let’s look at genre fiction (thriller, mystery, fantasy, supernatural, paranormal, police procedural, horror, romance, etc.). Genre fiction gives us both series and standalones. Which should I write?

tgcTruth is, I’ve done both. My first published novel was THE GRAIL CONSPIRACY (co-written with Lynn Sholes), the first of a 4-book series. Our fifth book was a standalone called THE PHOENIX APOSTLES. Both TGC and TPA went to #1 on the Amazon Kindle bestseller list. Now we’re finishing up THE TOMB, the last of a 3-book series. Next up will be a standalone. I believe both work for us.

But it’s important to see the pros and cons of the two. Feedback from our readers helped me put together these points.

phoenix-apostles-webProbably the single biggest advantage to a series, for the reader and writer, is that it’s comfort food for the imagination. Even though the story is a new one, it’s a chance to revisit an old friend(s)—the protagonist and repeat characters. For years, picking up a Clive Cussler or Terry Brooks novel always gave me a warm and fuzzy feeling that I was back with my buddies. I knew those guys, trusted them, and couldn’t wait to see what they had gotten into this time. It was like meeting up with an old friend I hadn’t seen in a year and catching up on the latest news.

Of course, every pro comes with a con. Writing a series means that every installment must be as good as or better than the last. No rehashing of a theme. No cookie cutter plots. No formulas. Readers must come away feeling their appetite for the the next adventure was satisfied, and they can’t wait for the next in the series.

Another con to writing a series is backstory. Can the reader pick up a book in the middle of the series and get enough backstory for it to make sense? Or do they have to start with book one? How much backstory does the author include in subsequent books without boring the dedicated series fan or confusing the mid-series pick-up reader?

Finally, what if a series goes too long? What if the protagonist keeps falling into the same old danger (formula) time after time? This can result in the B word: boring. You don’t want to go there.

The advantage of writing a standalone, especially if you are known as a series author, is it can bring on a breath of fresh air for you and the reader. You get to stretch your legs without the confines of your established characters, and your reader gets to see a new side of your talents. You get to try new bankid stuff, experiment with voice, tense, POV, etc. A standalone for a series author is an experimental science lab. Just don’t blow the place up and go too far over the line that your fans won’t even recognize you.

One interesting technique is to touch on something in your new book that appeared in a previous series. In THE SHIELD, book 2 of our Maxine Decker series, the OSI agent was interviewed by Cotten Stone, the heroine journalist from our first series. It can bring an unexpected smile to your reader’s face or produce enough intrigue that they will seek out the other books.

So whether you’re interested in writing a series or a standalone, think ahead to what might be the pros and cons once you’re done. And give the new season of TRUE DETECTIVE a try. It’s good if not different from its predecessor.

What do you think, Zoners? Do you prefer reading or writing a series or standalones?

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Don’t Let Perfection Get In Your Way

By Joe Moore
@JoeMoore_writer

Here’s a comment I hear from new writers: “I want to edit and polish my writing as I go, but I wind up getting nowhere because I’m obsessed with making it perfect the first time.”

This is so often the case starting out. You want every word to shine and sparkle and dazzle. So you spend a day or a week or a month or forever trying to get that first chapter to be perfect.

In my opinion, this is a crutch. It’s an excuse. It’s a disease that infects all writers when they first start out. And it will eat you alive with a good chance that your writing will be damaged. It’s an easy trap to fall into. So how do you get past this nasty little hang-up?

First, you must convince yourself that NOTHING is perfect, especially when it comes to writing fiction. Now I’m not talking about spelling, punctuation, grammar and syntax. Those are the rules of writing just like the speed limit and stop lights are the rules of the road. But those rules have NOTHING to do with perfection, only correctness. Perfection is a mental concept. It can never be achieved. There will always be room for improvement.

Next, you must allow yourself to write less-than-perfect prose the first time with the understanding that it’s more important to tell the story.

Another tip that helps is to come up with a set of REALISTIC goals that drive your writing. Your goals should be reasonable and obtainable. Make them short-term, easy and convenient. Such as: I will write 500 words per day. I will not look at what I’ve written until I complete 5000 words. I will not stop writing each day until I finish the current chapter. You get the idea. Make your goals reasonable so perfectionism doesn’t get in the way.

I believe that perfectionism creates doubt. Doubt smothers creativity. It slows the stream of consciousness. Allow yourself to shape the story first no matter how rough, then carve out the details. And remember that you’re the only one demanding that your writing be perfect. Give yourself a break and just tell the story.

Harry Shaw, in his book Errors in English and Ways to Correct Them, said, “There is no such thing as good writing. There is only good rewriting.” Science fiction master thriller writer Michael Crichton said: “Books are not written–they’re rewritten.”

So don’t worry about perfection. Work at telling a good story.

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tomb-cover-smallComing this summer: THE TOMB, book #3 in the bestselling Maxine Decker thriller series. This time, Decker must stop the assassination of not one but all nine justices of the Supreme Court. Vengeance can be earth-shattering.

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How to build a solid writer’s platform?

By Joe Moore
@JoeMoore_writer

With the rapid growth of indie publishing, the responsibility of marketing and promotion falls even more on the shoulders of the author. One of the most important questions the indie author can ask is “Do I have a solid platform?” Writing a quality, professional manuscript properly edited and designed is a good start. But you also need to prepare a ready-made audience consisting of a fan base or at least a group of potential fans. And for new writers, this must be done BEFORE you publish your book. Even veteran, multi-book authors must have a solid, established platform. It should be part of your overall publishing business plan.

platform1What is a platform?

In a single word, your platform is your “brand”. Having a solid platform in the indie world is the foundation of selling more books.

How do you establish or build your platform? The quickest way is to start with the Internet. Here are a couple of methods to begin nailing your platform together.

Website. There was a time when a website was only for the rich and famous. Those days are long gone. A writer without a website is about as logical as a carpenter without a tool kit. The indie author’s website is the “first impression” a potential reader gets of your brand. It’s truly a no-brainer. Your website is your billboard, your advertisement, your calling card. And the potential for delivering a creative message is only limited to your imagination. Essential elements on your website must include: a method for contacting you; a method for purchasing your book(s); a method for the press to gain information (digital press kit); an incentive to linger or return such as a contest or free sample chapters; a method for you to track your website. Other considerations include continuity in your website colors and design that are in sync with your book covers or other branding elements, and a reasonable amount of interactivity such as a method of leaving comments or subscribing to newsletters and publication news, or RSS and other informational digital feeds.

Blogging. A blog is an online method of expressing your thoughts with a means for visitors to leave a comment or opinion. As a writer, your blog will probably be about your writing, your books, or some other connection to your craft and career. Some authors like to venture away from their books and discuss other topics such as politics, religion, economics, etc. A word of warning: You’ve worked hard to establish and build your “brand”. Don’t blow it by pissing off your readers. At some point they just might reject your next thriller or mystery because they don’t agree with your position on unrelated issues. A blog can easily turn into a slippery slope.

Newsletter. As previously mentioned, your website needs a method for your visitors and fans to subscribe to a newsletter or news bulletin. If they’re a fan, they want to know about you and your books. When is your next book coming out? When are you going to do a signing in their area? Will you be at a particular writer’s conference? They want the latest news. And the best and most economical way to get them what they want is an electronic newsletter. There are numerous email-generating newsletter sources that you can use to put together a value-filled publication. A few suggestions are Constant Contact, MailChimp, and Vertical Response.

Write some stuff. Any writing credit is a good writing credit, and it helps build your platform. No matter what you write, whether it’s for the local paper or a national magazine, you’re byline should contain a mention that you are a novelist. So if the reader likes your article or how-to piece, and they see you also write thrillers or mysteries, that’s a potential plank in your platform.

Book forums. There are a ton of forums out there dealing with readers and writers. A good resource to begin finding them is groups.yahoo.com/. Others include WritersNet, Backspace, and Absolute Write. Make yourself known on these and similar forums and you’ll be adding to your brand and platform.

Social Networks. Sites like LinkedIn.com, Facebook.com, Twitter.com, Goodreads, and countless others are perfect for building your brand. The only potential risk is the time you might spend on these sites instead of writing your book. But they are a terrific source of finding your dedicated or new fans. A word of caution: see the note on blogging above.

Additional platform-building tools include professional publicity photos of yourself and a strong press-ready biography. Also, memberships in writer organizations such as the International Thriller Writers or Mystery Writers of America help build your brand and platform among your colleagues and fans. The networking and connections made within these organizations and their subsequent writer conferences are invaluable.

Now it’s your turn, Zoners. What additional planks have you nailed into your writer’s platform?
rapsheet1———————————
Like your thrillers in French? No problem. THE BLADE and THE SHIELD have just been released in French.

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Shorter is Better

By Joe Moore
@JoeMoore_writer

Recently, Science Fiction publisher TOR published an article on why novellas are the future of publishing. They based their theory on one important element: time. For the modern electronic reader, time is a precious commodity. If the reader can sit down with a Kindle or Nook and read a novella on a cross country plane ride or over a rainy Sunday afternoon, they can become just as satisfied as trudging through a 120k word novel. The enthusiasm of publishing novella e-books is spreading throughout the traditional publishing industry. Lower costs, quicker turnaround, more product in the pipeline.

A novella can fall anywhere between 17,500 and 60,000 words. There’s a lot of latitude in that gap and publishers are going to give some wiggle room with word count. No agent or publisher is going to reject your book if you missed the count by 1k or 5k or even 10k, especially if the story blows them away.

Have you ever written a novella? Thought about it? Have you read one? Did you get as much fulfillment out of it as a full-length novel? Is your reading time becoming more precious to you than ever? Chime in and let us know.

For those who wonder about word count, here’s a general rule of thumb guideline to counting words:

  • Epic: A work of 200,000 words or more.
  • Novel: A work of 60,000 words or more.
  • Novella: A work of at least 17,500 words but under 60,000 words.
  • Short story: A work of at least 2,000 words but under 7,500 words.
  • Flash fiction: A work of less than 2,000 words, usually under 1,000.
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