East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Short fiction – the first six months


A few days of quiet, working on my own projects for a change, and recharging the batteries as I wait for new challenges.
Or something.

The total for 2019 at the moment is

  • 38 submissions
  • 9 stories accepted
  • 1 story given away pro bono
  • 7 stories still waiting for the editors’ responses

Which is not bad, but could be better.

After much work – and I really mean a lot of work – I was able to “get” the 2500-words format. I tend to be long-winded, and my “standard” formats used to be 6000 and 10.000 words.
Going shorter means a complete rethinking of the story structure, and that’s something one has to exercise.

The main reason to learn to write 2/3000 words stories is, of course, that that is usually the sweet spot for magazines. A 2500-words story can fit in some corner, while a 6000-words story takes up too much space.
And indeed, at least three on my sales this year were in the 2500-words range.

Another good thing is that, if I’m in the mood, I can write a 2/3000-words story in one evening – and then spend the following day tweaking, cleaning and tightening it.
We go back to the old Ray Bradbury rule: write a story per week, because nobody can write 52 duds in a row.

It is interesting that publishers in Italy still go for characters instead of words – I am currently working on a story for which I have an allowance of 30.000 characters, that is somewhere in the 5/6000-words range (more if I go and use all the shortest synonyms).
The length is not the real problem, though – upon re-reading the first draft I realized not only that I exceeded the character count of a hefty 12% (yes, I like long words), but possibly more important, my supposedly sword & sorcery story has a fair number of swords, but not a single trace of sorcery.
Time to rewrite.

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

4 thoughts on “Short fiction – the first six months

  1. Ray Bradbury rocks. I’m going to remember that quote!


  2. Wow, having to work out length by characters not words would be challenging!
    Good work so far this year.


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