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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Color Cues

Nancy J. Cohen

I can see colors fine except when I have to write them in a story. Then I’ll say a character has brown eyes, is wearing a green top with khakis, and has her nails painted red. What is wrong with this picture? Rainbow colors don’t do justice to the myriad of shades out there. So how do you get more specific? Here are some helpful aids. Think in categories.

Jewels—pearl, amethyst, emerald, ruby, sapphire, jade
Flowers—rose, lilac, daffodil, lavender

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Food—grape, cherry, orange, lemon, lime, cocoa, coffee, fudge, chocolate, blueberry, avocado, strawberry

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Minerals—onyx, copper, gold, silver, malachite, cobalt
Nature—slate gray like a thundercloud, leaf green, walnut, coal, ivory

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But sometimes my mind goes blank, and so I turn to the most creative resource of all—a department store catalog. You can’t get any more imaginative than this, whether it’s towels or tops or sweaters. Here are some descriptive colors from a recent newspaper insert:

Heather gray, apple green, aquatic blue, berry, coral, cornflower blue, charcoal, navy, banana, raspberry, tropical turquoise, sky blue, stone gray, violet, burgundy, claret, evergreen, marine teal, sand, ocean aqua, pewter, snow.

You get the idea. And so I’ve created a file listing descriptive adjectives under each basic rainbow color. Here is one example:

BROWN

chestnut, auburn, mahogany, walnut, hazel, fawn, copper, camel, caramel, cinnamon, russet, tawny, sand, chocolate, maroon, tan, bronze, coffee, rust, earth, dusty, mud, toffee, cocoa

Thus when I am stuck for a particular shade, I can hop over to my color chart and pick one out.

Colors descriptions also convey emotions. For example, mud brown, toad green, or cyanotic blue have a less pleasant connotation than chocolate brown, sea green or ocean blue. So choose your hues carefully to enhance a scene.

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What’s your secret to describing colors?

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