Writing SF/F short stories - useful for novelists?

ctg

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That's very interesting, on 5000 word story, they payment would be 0.5 pennies per word. I don't think there is a point of even trying to supply short stories for magazines then.
 

Susan Boulton

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If one has written a short story and want to publish it somewhere? Then what are the best options
If you want to get a short story published, it is the same as getting a publisher/agent for a novel. You have to study the market. Find the magzine, z-ine and anthology (Pro, semi, or for the love of) which will suit your story/work.


Try to get it published in a commercial magazine
Hard work, and even top Mags like Analog and Asimov's only pay 8c (US) a word. Yet, they are over subscribed with submissions. I feel the lure of getting a short story published in Mags like these is not for the money it is the fact that you have had your work accepted by publications that have printed great genre writers. To actually have the editor say, yes I will pay to print this is a hell of a feather in your cap. A few good sales to well known and respected mags/anthologies can go a long way to showing an editor/agent that you can sell your work, that people are willing to pay money to buy said work and publish it.


or straight away dump them in some unpaid website (and hope to get picked for an anthology)?
Not sure what you mean here, the three anthologies I have been published in, I submitted my work in the same way as I would do for a mag, tailoring my work to suit the remit of the anthology's editor. The stories certainly had not been hanging around on a website waiting to be "picked up" I had to sell them.
 

ctg

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Thanks, that's more informative answer then Doctor Sax's one. I exactly thought short story as a way to raise my profile, plus earn a little bit of money. 8 USD cents is roughly 4 pennies and it's more then I was even thinking about get from it.
 

Ian Whates

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There's no substitute for studying the markets when it comes to short stories, as with everything else. Fortunately, there are tools designed to help you do so. Have a look at Ralan's Webstravaganza - Ralan.com

Begin with the 'Semi- & Pro Markets' list, then work through the 'Anthology' and 'Paying' Markets, and you'll get a good idea of what's available, the type of story each market is looking for and what they pay.
 

ctg

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Thank you very much Ian, that is very useful link. Too bad that my writing is difficult at the moment as I did cut tip of my thump off with a kitchen knife.
 

ctg

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I forgive you doctor Sax, and I hope that you forgive me whatever I have done to upset you.
 

Doctor Sax

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??? I'm a very difficult person to upset. PM me if I've been horrid.
 

Locksmith

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And yeah, I guess running sprints would be better marathon training than laying on a couch.
I've kind of missed this thread before now, but this analogy has me thinking. It's basically being used to say short stories and novels are different beasts.

It interests me, because it relates to something I do know something about - running - and I think there is a good analogy in here.

I'm a reasonably competitive marathon runner - 3h09 PB (still working on it though). I fully concur, running a marathon and running a sprint are different, but the thing is, guess how you get better at marathon running?

Running marathons? Nope. In fact it's counter-productive. The exhaustion and muscle breakdown from running a marathon outweigh any training benefits.
Running long slow distances shorter than a marathon certainly has its place, but if you want to run sub-3h marathons you've got to do sprint training and short races (5k, 10k). Most marathon runners start their season improving their time over 1k (around 1/40th of the distance of a marathon).
But hang on, they're different beasts. Well, that's the thing (and where the analogy holds IMO). Ultimately they're the same essential skills. And what's more the discipline of running shorter races and sprint training teaches you to prepare for races, to experience the beginning, middle and end of races, pushing yourself when you're down, working through hard patches and ultimately comparing yourself with your peers.

Writing short stories and novels are clearly different, but I think the sprint/marathon analogy works. I think a lot of people enjoy the feeling of "writing a novel". They're joggers hoping to one day run a marathon. But if you're serious and want to tell if you're a good storyteller - get out there and practice some sprints and short races - put your short stories out on the market and let them be judged.

OK, I've pushed the analogy far enough now... ;)
 

Teresa Edgerton

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But if you're serious and want to tell if you're a good storyteller - get out there and practice some sprints and short races - put your short stories out on the market and let them be judged.
Are you saying that writers who begin by writing novels and never get around to writing short stories at all aren't serious, Locksmith?

And I think you are comparing two things that are in no way analogous.
 

Barney

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The original thread title was;

Writing SF/F short stories - useful for novelists?

Quite surprising how opinions seem to be so polarised on this. Some people (me included) think it is useful. Others think short stories and novels are so different that experiencing of writing the former won't help much with the latter.

I am saying this from the perspective of someone who takes writing seriously, but hasn't been in the game for a long time. One thing I quickly realised was that my first attempts at story telling were flawed and actually quite boring. Writing several short stories in fairly quick succession helped my development. It gave me practice at telling a story from start to finish, and I learned a lot from it. If I had gone straight into writing a novel I don't think I would have learned as much as quickly. Rather than having a few short stories under my belt that (hopefully!) showed improvement from the earliest to the latest, I would just have one poor novel.
It seems others want to write a novel straight away, and I say you have to go with your instincts, it's just that mine were to start with shorter stuff.
 

Teresa Edgerton

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Here is the best advice that I know how to give: If you want to write novels, write novels, if you want to write short stories, write short stories, and if you want to do both, then do both. But don't ever let anyone talk you into doing either one as a stepping stone to the other. It doesn't work that way.
 
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But surely Teresa you must agree that its really important to write, and thus short stories might be a good idea if you want to complete something, or if you want to explore an idea, or you're enthusiasm for your main work is flagging.

Of course, if you say you can write good fantasy novels without writing any short stories, I obviously believe you. In fact I knew that before. But I also think short stories can be a useful tool for some people in writing longer works.

Post 400!
 

Locksmith

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Are you saying that writers who begin by writing novels and never get around to writing short stories at all aren't serious, Locksmith?

And I think you are comparing two things that are in no way analogous.
An interesting pick on a tiny part of my post. What I was actually saying with this comment, if you read it in context, is that a lot of "aspiring novelists" are actually procrastinating and aren't, in all honesty, 100% serious about writing for publication. More power to them. However, one way to get into the whole publication process - writing an entire, self-contained story, finalising a manuscript, sending it out, dealing with rejections, dealing with publishers, editing, re-editing, seeing your name in print - is to write short stories. It will help you become a better novelist. (Like all advice though, different strokes for different folks).

As Barney says, the original question was whether writing short stories may be helpful to novelists. They're clearly different beasts, like sprinting and marathon running, and if you want to do one exceptionally well, you need to focus on that goal. But, like running, there is cross pollination and a lot of aspiring novelists would do well to try their hand at short stories. (c.f. George RR Martin: Frequently Asked Questions - George R. R. Martin's Official Website )

There was a humorous article on The Onion from the premise that novelists were, like screen writers, on strike, and no-one noticed. One of the lines that stuck with me was along the lines of "99% of strikers are writing their first novel".
 

John Jarrold

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But surely Teresa you must agree that its really important to write, and thus short stories might be a good idea if you want to complete something, or if you want to explore an idea, or you're enthusiasm for your main work is flagging.

Of course, if you say you can write good fantasy novels without writing any short stories, I obviously believe you. In fact I knew that before. But I also think short stories can be a useful tool for some people in writing longer works.

Post 400!
'useful for some people' is the important phrase here. Every author is different and what suits one won't suit another. There is no template. No one should be forced to write short fiction if they don't want to.
 

John Jarrold

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An interesting pick on a tiny part of my post. What I was actually saying with this comment, if you read it in context, is that a lot of "aspiring novelists" are actually procrastinating and aren't, in all honesty, 100% serious about writing for publication. More power to them. However, one way to get into the whole publication process - writing an entire, self-contained story, finalising a manuscript, sending it out, dealing with rejections, dealing with publishers, editing, re-editing, seeing your name in print - is to write short stories. It will help you become a better novelist. (Like all advice though, different strokes for different folks).

As Barney says, the original question was whether writing short stories may be helpful to novelists. They're clearly different beasts, like sprinting and marathon running, and if you want to do one exceptionally well, you need to focus on that goal. But, like running, there is cross pollination and a lot of aspiring novelists would do well to try their hand at short stories. (c.f. George RR Martin: Frequently Asked Questions - George R. R. Martin's Official Website )

There was a humorous article on The Onion from the premise that novelists were, like screen writers, on strike, and no-one noticed. One of the lines that stuck with me was along the lines of "99% of strikers are writing their first novel".
Again, the imprtant phrase here is that it's 'one way'. It will not help some prospective novelists at all to write short fiction, because not everyone's writing brain works that way. Don't try to be prescriptive.
 
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Yep. And I feel a bit silly now, offering my opinion as a young, fledging uni student who hasn't written anything over 19 thousand words, next to opinions from published author and a publisher himself.

*Bows in deference to greater authorities*
 

Locksmith

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Again, the imprtant phrase here is that it's 'one way'. It will not help some prospective novelists at all to write short fiction, because not everyone's writing brain works that way. Don't try to be prescriptive.
Like I said, John "(Like all advice though, different strokes for different folks)."

It's always useful in seeking advice to get different people's perspectives.
 
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