Friday, January 21, 2011

The next writing project

I'm about halfway through the first draft of the final novella in my Sword of Bayne trilogy, so I've been pondering lately what my next project will be.

The truth is I probably won't decide for sure until I sit down and start typing.

A while back on this blog I mentioned I had something truly experimental in the possible works, and that still might be my next project. But I've also had a few e-mails and Facebook messages asking me if or when I would get back to writing about my Kron Darkbow character from my Kobalos trilogy, and I've always said I would definitely be writing more about Kron.

All that in mind, a few other things have occurred to me of late.

One, though I consider each part of my Sword of Bayne trilogy a novella, I've had more than a few other writers tell me they are not novellas but short novels because each weighs in at 40,000 words. To my way of thinking, and maybe I'm a bit old school or neurotic on this, anything less than 60,000 words is a novella, but I'm willing to re-think this considering the current/modern/recent technological changes that have come about due to digital publishing.

Here's how I traditionally thing of story lengths:

Flash fiction: 25 to 1,000 words
Short story: 1,100 to 10,000 words
Long short story: 10,100 to 20,000 words
Novella: 20,100 to 59,000 words
Novel: 60,000 words and up, with most anything longer than 150,000 words possibly needing to be broken up into a series

I left out such things as the novelette because I consider them sort of silly and not common enough in the readers' minds to be worth discussing.

So, should I keep calling my Bayne sections novellas, or jump to calling them novels at 40,000 words? I'm interested in opinions, because it would affect my covers, marketing and even prices.

Next, another thing I've been thinking about lately is serial characters.

Of course most readers of the fantastic are familiar with the likes of Conan the Cimmerian, Batman, etc.

But my thinking is leaning more toward the men's action series characters that grew to popularity in the 1970s, from such titles as The Executioner and The Destroyer. Those two are likely the best known of such fiction, but there were tons of other characters and series. Today, they're not around so much, though The Executioner books keep chugging along, a few coming out every month, and every once in a while a new The Destroyer novel comes out.

Most of those men's series contained short novels, roughly about 60,000 words, with a special, longer-length novel as an aside to the series released a few times a year.

One of the ideas I've had is to start my own such series, though I'm afraid it might tie me down too much to one character and one series, and I do have plenty of other things I'd like to write. And I'd hate to start a series and it goes nowhere with readers. Would I continue at that point? Would I give up and start a new series or something else altogether?

More than likely my next project is going to be a Kron Darkbow novel, mainly because the Kobalos trilogy is by far the best-selling of all my e-books and the ones I hear the most comments about. But again, I'll have a hundred ideas plopping around in my head, but I probably won't know what the new project will actually be until I sit down and at the keyboard.


David Barron said...

I sidestep your question in that, for me, "novella" and "short book" are synonyms. Novellas (and novels) are short books (and books) that get a lot of good reviews.

I think there's a wide interface between "Long Story" and "Short Book" that occurs somewhere in the 10k to 20k word mark. "Book" occurs around 40k-60k, then "Long Book" happens at 80k.

David J. West said...

I always thought of anything above 10K but short of 40Kish as novella.

And I can think of a handful of other writers with books in the 40K range that classify them as novels.

Charles Gramlich said...

I tend to think of 40,000 as a novella but the way it's definied goes in and out. A lot of the pulp "novels" that were advertised in mags were way short of 40,000. I personally like novella length work for a lot of different genres.