Note from the Editor
By Lazette Gifford
I love to write short stories.
I love to write novels.
All right. Yes. I love to write. I
don't worry about what sort of idea I'm getting when one pops up, whether that's
genre or length. A story will be as long as it needs to be, and forcing a short
story into a novel or a novel into a short story isn't doing the story idea
justice. I often play with the length within the definition of novel, novella,
novelette, short story and flash -- but the idea itself will usually fall
clearly into one of these lengths.
For those who aren't certain about the
different lengths, here are the SFWA® (Science Fiction Writers of
America) word count guidelines:
Novel -- 40,000 words or more
Novella -- 17,500 - 39,999 words
Novelette -- 7,500 -17,499 words
Short Story -- 7,499 words or fewer
In addition I'd add the Flash Fiction length
which is usually 1000 words or less, most often defined by the publication. Some
are as little as 100 words.
Obviously, novels are rarely as short as
40,000 words, and magazine editors will often say they take short stories up to
10,000 words or more. You cannot use this chart as the final say -- but it
does give a writer some idea of the general lengths to work with.
For many years I was told I was a natural
novelists -- that is one of those people who just naturally write novels rather
than short stories. But I found, instead, that I am a natural story teller.
The length was a product of the story, and it just took me a while to find short
stories I wanted to tell.
Don't be afraid to try a length you've never
attempted before. Don't be afraid to write the stories you imagine, no matter
where they take you or how long they require you to work.
And you will find that within those lengths
fall wondrous tales, pretty stories, and dangerous dreams.
They are all yours for the taking. Let your
imagination loose of the fetters imposed by length, genre, and other conventions
-- and tell the tales you want. They will not all sell, but sometimes the joy
is just in the telling.