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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Guest Blog: Vicki Batman: You're Not So Tall: Is Writing Short Valuable?

When I started writing, I began with a book. I worked and worked it for many years, entered contests, got some critiques, etc. In my head, I was on the fast-track to becoming discovered.

God, I was delusional. LOL

It's true, most newbies think they are the cat's meow, the next big thing. I tried to hold my realities in check by working on several other manuscripts. I continued submitting and got lots of rejections.

In the contests, however, I discovered I wasn't doing badly at all. And I noticed a woman in my local RWA chapter and I seemed to be scoring approximately the same scores. I wondered if she would be interested in critiquing with me. So I put on my brave shirt and asked her. She said yes and would I want to look at her six very short stories.

Little did I know I would slip and slide down the rabbit hole into the pool of short fiction.

After critiquing my friend's stories, I began writing my own and submitting to magazines. Many acceptances later, I branched into other forms of short fiction.

Woman's World magazine has been around forever. Their stories take 800 words—PERIOD. The challenge is writing that short. It means really looking at action verbs, no adverbs, the perfect adjective, a descriptive noun. Getting the story pared to the bones and yet, still be an intriguing read.

I find short stories are a moment in time and are very satisfying, just as satisfying as a good book if written well.

Nowadays, authors are encouraged to write short fiction to publish between books so the reader stays interested. Short stories can be an extra freebie to entice new readers. It can expound on, say, a secondary character, a chance to hear their story. A giveaway in a contest. And just a plain ol' piece of short fiction because we all know we have a minute or two to read something during lunch or carpool—right?

People always ask when are you writing a book? He-he-he. I have and good news abounds.

Do you read short stories? If not, why not?

BIO:
Like some of her characters, award-winning author, Vicki Batman has worked a wide variety of jobs including lifeguard, ride attendant at an amusement park; a hardware store, department store, book store, antique store clerk; administrative assistant in an international real estate firm; and a general “do anything gal” at a financial services firm--the list is endless.

Writing for several years, she has completed three manuscripts, written essays, and sold many short stories to TRUE LOVE, TRUE ROMANCE, TRUE CONFESSIONS, NOBLE ROMANCE PUBLISHING, LONG AND SHORT REVIEWS, MUSEITUP PUBLISHING, and THE WILD ROSE PRESS. She is a member of RWA and several writing groups and chapters. In 2004, she joined DARA and has served in many capacities, including 2009 President. DARA awarded her the Robin Teer Memorial Service Award in 2010.

Most days begin with her hands set to the keyboard and thinking "What if??"

BLURB: Bug Stuff...and other stories
Three short romantic comedies from sassy writer gal. Included are:

"Just Desserts": a political dinner gone disastrous brings together a reluctant attendee and her handsome seat-mate.

"Bug Stuff": A cute accountant unites with his co-worker to fight a pesky adversary.

"With This Ring": When a wife forgets her little black dress, all turns into something utterly romantic and unforgettable in the end.

34 comments:

Melissa Keir said...

I love short stories. If I could, they would be what I'd read all the time. I am so busy with life that I don't have time to sit and read a big novel in one sitting. If I don't read the book in one sitting, I have a hard time remembering things when I come back to it. I love that you write stories that appeal to me!

Keep it up!!

vicki batman said...

Hi, Melissa! and good morning!! Thank you for the lovely comment. Right now, I am with you on reading a long book. I am out of time and I hate it because reading is my bestest friend. thanks, sweetie.

Patricia said...

Wow, Vicki, you know how hard it is for me to write a log line or a blurb, so I can't imagine having the chops to write a short 800-word story. Yikes! Now that's paring down to the bones and you obviously have the talent to do that.

Susan Macatee said...

Hi, Vicki! I enjoy reading both full length novels and short stories. The appeal to the short story is reading it all in one bite. Lately, with all my other obligations, it takes me forever to find the time to finish a full length book.

I also find I enjoy writing shorter, whether its short stories or novellas. Can get them done and out to readers that much faster.

chris keniston said...

normally - no I don't read short stories. Mostly because when I find time to read I want to crawl under the covers for a good long day with a great story.

But there's something to be said for the quick fix when you only have a little bit of time and need a happy ever after escape from reality!

I've read every short Vicki's written and am always amazed at how she nails it every time!

Donnell Ann Bell said...

Vicki, interesting post. The truth is writing short is an artform all itself. As a former newspaper editor, I can't tell you how hard it is to tell a spotlight reporter -- keep it to 100 words. I write novels 70 to 100K. KL Grady challenged us to write short once. I did, and it was HARD. If you're good at it, can tell a compelling story within a specific word count, that's real talent. Keep up the good work!

Donnell Ann Bell said...

Ha, flying fingers. Forgive me. that's 1000 words keep an article to 1000 words :)

vicki batman said...

Hi, Patty: Truly, just like most things we learn it took Practice! But we learn what is most important in a story when we do this and not all stories can be this short. I'll help with blurbs most any time, sweetie. ox

Hi, Susan: I agree, although I'm such a picky person, I rewrite and edit until the work is dragged from my hands. LOL

vicki batman said...

Hi, Chris: I do appreciate you reading my lovely babies. I guess the next best thing to a big book would be to load up on a bunch and read at once? lol

Hi, Donnell! I do have my fun with my stories. My head just thinks that way now. Wonder what my head will do when the big book comes out. mmmmm. hugs

lol 1000. Yesterday, I had trouble with the K key on my keyboard. I kept punching and punching. Had to reboot.

Sandy said...

I'm starting to write short stories (not as short as 800 words) to give me more time to get my longer books finished. I never thought I could do it, Vicki, but I am.

I regret I don't have time to read anymore, and I never dreamed it would happen to me.

Sandy said...

I'm starting to write short stories (not as short as 800 words) to give me more time to get my longer books finished. I never thought I could do it, Vicki, but I am.

I regret I don't have time to read anymore, and I never dreamed it would happen to me.

Tina OReilly said...

I love writing and reading short stories, Vicki. Woman's World was always a dream of mine.

vicki batman said...

You can do this, Sandy. For me, the story dictates how long it will be which usually means the conflict dictates. To write very short like these three in Bug Stuff, it wouldn't hurt to read a bunch of them in a row. You'll get the rhythm and pattern of how it works. Good luck!

vicki batman said...

Hi, Tina! WW is my brass ring. I've written ten and although I've come close, not sold to them. And may never. So my little bitties are ones I didn't sell. Are they bad? I don't think so. In fact, This is NOT Working won the Book Breeze contest two years ago. WW gets so many subs per week, like 200. They look for something specific for their reader and mine may not be exactly what they want. Doesn't mean mine are bad at all. I've had comments from editors too about how they liked the story, but what they weren't looking for. Too bad there isn't another Romance Short story place where we can get all kinds of genres. Thanks for posting and good luck!

Marilyn Baxter said...

Waving to Vicki!

I've paid my way to many RWA conferences with the proceeds from short story sales to magazines. And on February 7 my first short romance fiction that actually has my name on it will be released. I've always tended to write short, even when writing books. So short fiction was a great thing for me. You're not going into a huge big character arc or have enormous GMC, but you still have an entertaining story with an HEA.

Congrats to you on all your sales. You're da bomb!

vicki batman said...

Hi, Marilyn! And BTW, she offers a great workshop on how to write short fiction. I took it and was amazed at what new things I could do.

AND BTW, I've seen the cover for her new release from Bouroughs and it is adorable.

No way, YOU are da bomb!

Marsha said...

Hey, Vicki. I used to read lots of magazine stories. Didn't have time for anything longer. But generally, the short story always leaves me wanting more. (Probably not bad, now that I think of it. Isn't that what we as authors always want--for the reader to want the writer to write the next one?)
And then look at this response! I love words, I'd be hard pressed to pare down enough to write a short story. Sure glad you and others can.

Linda Steinberg said...

Vicki, I really admire you for being able to write short. 800 words? It takes me that many to say hello. But I am trying to write shorter, novella size, for the reasons mentioned. We'll see if my 'short' novella turns into War and Peace.

Janice Seagraves said...

Hi Vicki,

I've written a few short stories and published a two story collection that continued my characters' adventures. They're quick to write and edit. I had fun writing them.

However, they don't seem to sell as well as my book length novels.

Janice~

Ashantay said...

I find that when I read stories electronically, I prefer shorter books, but I still love longer stories in print. Being able to write either length is an admirable skill. Good for you!

Cara Marsi said...

Vicki, you know I too love to write short stories. I'm so glad I met you at that elevator at National in 2009. Because of you I ventured into short story writing. I loved writing for the confession mags, but I've now moved on from them, as you have.

I've read all of your stories and thoroughly enjoyed them. You're a great writer.

vicki batman said...

Hi, Marsha! I think it is great when a story leaves you wanting more, whether it is a short or long. That means we did our job as a writer. Hugs.

Hi, Linda! Yes, 800 words because that is what WW takes and is it hard. In a way, it can be. But if you really look at the story being a moment in time, you can do it. Good luck with yours.

Hi, Janice! Yes, shorts don't seem to sell as well. When people read mine, they come back and say they didn't even notice how short it is. They are satisfied. So maybe it is the stigma of those crazy literary ones we read in high school still driving readers away. lol

Hi, Ashantay! Again, do we dive into a story knowing it's length? I say banish that thought and go with the flow. And you are so spot on--writing anything and doing it well is a great talent. Thank you for posting.

Hi, Cara! and I can still see us talking in the elevator as if it was yesterday. I am so glad for RWA in that it has brought me together with some extraordinary friends. You are pretty awesome, too. oxoxo

Rose Anderson said...

Enjoyed the post Vicki. I find short stories so hard.., the ol' brain wants to keep going. Best luck. :)

vicki batman said...

Hi, Rose! It's hard because you have to turn your brain off and condense your story. That's all. Instead of five what ifs? you might have two. You see what I mean? Thank you.

Sylvia said...

Hi Vicki,
I love your shorts!! Haha!! No they are always fun. Right now I'm spending more time writing than reading, except for my Rita books.

vicki batman said...

Hi, Sylvia! Thank you for loving my work. I think you rock too. And my oh my, you are so prolific. Hugs.

Angela Adams said...

I actually think it's more of a challenge to write a short story over a novel. You need to hook your reader and tell a story with fewer words.

Beverley Bateman said...

Hi Vicki,
Yes I read 'short.' I love the stories in WW.

vicki batman said...

Hi, Angela! I think it is harder to write a book. Sometimes, I pull my hair trying to think of more conflict for one. Thank you.

Hi, Beverley! You know, our WW group hasn't talked in a while. I wonder if anyone is submitting? Thanks, hon.

fOIS In The City said...

Vicki, you know I love flash fiction and I have always had a love affair with short stories. It is a style I enjoy ... from O Henry to the trend today to pub shorts between novels.

800 words is an even better challenge than the one I give myself with my flash ... I go 1,000 max. It's fun for both the writer and the reader :)

Sydell Voeller said...

Yes, knowing how to write short is the mark of a skilled writer! I enjoyed this blog entry!

vicki batman said...

Hi, Florence! Your shorts continue to blow me away. You take a challenge and run and I'm amazed. Very proud of you.

Hi, Sydell! who is a long-time short story writer. Thank you for posting today. Hugs.

Pat Marinelli said...

Hi Vicki, I read both long and short stories. I enjoy getting to know characters in novels, but I need my short reading fix. I've also written both.

I also have written almost two dozen short stories for WW. Haven't sold any as yet. I write both romance and mystery.

Gemma Juliana said...

Hi Vicki, Thanks for sharing this info. I LOVE writing short, and as much as I intend to write novels, my comfort zone is novellas. Now I've got three short stories ready to go... excellent advice!

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