When I write, I try to just write whatever story, or thought I’m having, and I let it go where it goes, and I try not to confine it based on genre, medium, or anything else. Also, when I’m editing—at least with fiction— I tend to let it sit for a couple of weeks, or maybe even months, and then look at it with fresh eyes. At that point, if something stands out as not being clear, I have a better idea of whether or not it’s working (if something is too recent, I may overlook a flaw in logic or sentence structure or whatever other issue I could be running into).
One of the elements in writing, that I try not to pay attention to in writing is length. On my novel, that I’m working on, I’m certainly conscious of where I’m at length-wise in comparison to where a traditional novel would be, but I do try not to focus too strongly on that. When I’m not working on my novel however, I’m pretty free with length. I write until I’ve included everything I wanted to, and told the story that I wanted.
About six months ago, I wrote a short story, and revised it, and submitted it to a couple of magazines, and contests. It didn’t get accepted into any of them. This really didn’t bother me, but I didn’t want to abandon the story—I think it’s one of the best pieces of writing I’ve ever done, so I can’t let it go too easy. So, needing a little help, I sent it to a few friends with opinions that I care about, and the reception confirmed that it’s one of my personal bests, but obviously there were slight suggestions. Every suggestion that I received, made perfect sense.
So what’s the issue?
The piece is nearly 7,000 words, which is already pretty long for publication in most magazines and contests, and the suggestions I received were all to add more. Specifically, I was told to flesh out a character or two, and to further define one of the relationships. It’s very good advice for the story, however I think the process of filling it out to my personal satisfaction would nearly double the length of the piece.
Doubling the length makes it virtually unpublishable as a short story, but if it’s under 20,000 words, it’s certainly not novel length, in fact it’s on the very short side of a novella.
So what do I do?
Typically, when I have written something that I’m not sure where to send it, or how to further market it, I put it on here. But one of the benefits of being published outside of this site is to bring further notice to this site, as well as my writing, and to be honest—and perhaps a bit obnoxious— I want it read as widely as possible. I love writing this blog, and I like publishing short stories on here, but my highest view count for any post is under 100, and it’s for a post in which I was kind of—unintentionally— shitty to someone I don’t even know, which isn’t the kind of notoriety I want.
There is also the tone of the story. Honestly, it’s a bit darker, and dirtier than anything I’ve written on here, and so I’m not sure what to do with it. I definitely think that I’m going to further flesh it out, I’m going to make it as close to perfect as I can, but at that point, I have no idea what to do with it.
If you have any suggestions, know of any places that take 10-20k word count stories, or know anyone who’ll publish a short novella, please let me know. Is this the type of thing worth writing a query letter to an agent about? Let me know in the comments. Thank you.