Wednesday 25 March 2015

(vol 2) Chapter 11: “Time Is Short”

2015 WORD COUNT = 15480 words

Times are changing.

Technology is shrinking our world and people have a lot more to do. Time is becoming a precious commodity.

Gone are the days when you could find yourself sat down in the evening, bored out of your mind; nothing to watch on any of the four TV channels, you didn’t own a Spectrum or a Commodore and it was raining cats and dogs outside. Back then this could lead you to picking up a good book and spending the next few hours just getting stuck into a whole new world.

Nowadays we have video games, 50,000 TV channels (+TiVo), longer work hours and many more responsibilities. It’s a lot harder to find any time you can justify on just sitting down and reading that latest 500 page novel. I mean, it could be months before you get to the end. And that’s if it’s a one off. What about getting through a trilogy or a fourteen book saga. Since my son was born my wife has barely had time to read any of the James Patterson books I constantly buy her.

So what other option is there?

When your time is short then it makes sense that the fiction you read be short too.

First off, you can’t go wrong with a good short story collection. You can dip in and out and will probably finish a whole story during your lunch break. Instead of waiting for several months before you get to the satisfying resolution, you can have it daily.

There are many short story collections out there but I highly recommend any of the ones written by Stephen King. Although regularly depicted as a horror writer, there is so much more to his stories and no better show case than the following collections:

Of course, if short fiction is still too much then there is always flash fiction. Stories so short you’ll be done in about five or ten minutes. And if it’s really good flash fiction then you’ll feel like you’ve just had an entire meal in one mouthful.

Obviously the sites I normally promote are more about taking part in the writing (and for some of you that might be the next step). But there are some out there that will give you that quick fix, that story with an edge, a five minute tale that’ll stay with you the rest of the day.

Let me divulge:

Paragraph Planet publishes a 75 word story every day and has done since 2008. Stories don’t get much shorter.

Angry Hourglass publish their weekly winner each Wednesday in the Hump day Quickie. These have a max word count of 360.

Daily Science Fiction publish a sci-fi or fantasy story a day at no more than 1500 words.

Quaterreads are a little different to the others in that you need to pay to read. But it is only $0.25 a 
story and, if you enjoy it enough, what better way to let the hard working author know?

Wattpad has a lot of authors posting chapter by chapter releases of their novels, yet they also have a lot of great short stories to browse through.

Of course you might not want to begin a new world every time you find five spare minutes. What if you enjoy characters so much that you want to see them again and again?

Episodic fiction is a growing trend. It’s like watching your favourite TV show with new content updated on a regular basis. I myself am currently working on a project called FRACTURED DAWN which has 1500 word ‘chapters’ being released every other Friday (I’m hoping to go weekly).

And I’m starting to look at other projects and wondering if they might be better in this episodic formula. Sure, there are still projects I’d like to see on a bookshelf one day as a fully-fledged novel, but I have a lot of little ideas that will never see the light of day if I wanted everything to end up that way. Perhaps, at this early stage in my career, this format will work better and get more stuff out there for people to enjoy.

An example of this episodic process being done well is Betsy Streeter’s NEPTUNE ROAD series. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday Betsy posts brand new tiny episodes of this fantastic ongoing series both on her website and on Wattpad (there’s also a paperback collection available). It follows a great cast of characters trying to get by on the planet Neptune. I’m currently up to episode 125 at the moment but don’t let that number put you off. A couple of lunch breaks and you’ll be all caught up.
So is bite size the future? I’m starting to think it is, at least on a publishing front. A lot of people will continue trying to read that epic novel come rain or shine. Others will give up and ditch reading as non-essential in this hectic world of ours.

But right there in the middle is a new breed of reader, one that wants to get in, be entertained, and get out before the next thing flashes before their eyes. And if people want to read that kind of thing then some of us are going to need to write that kind of thing.

Let me know of any other places to go where short and flash is the prominent feature. And I highly recommend visiting the sites listed above. There is some great material out there for you to find.

See you in seven.

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