Marissa Lingen (mrissa) wrote,
Marissa Lingen

Six Skills and novelettes

Scott Andrews, the editor over at Beneath Ceaseless Skies, suggested that it would be good for me to provide a link to the novelette of mine they published last year, The Six Skills of Madame Lumiere, and to note its eligibility for awards. He's been saying nice things about it, which I greatly appreciate especially considering the source. (I like BCS! Go! Read!) So here's your link: free story, whether you care about awards or not, and if you don't want to read more about novelettes and haven't read it yet, go on ahead and enjoy.

Meanwhile, it reminded me that I've noticed a shift in my writing. I've always written at a variety of lengths, down to short-shorts and up to novels, but I have had a deliberate bias against the longer short forms up until fairly recently. They can be a right pain to sell, is the long and short of it, so when I got promising ideas that felt like they were going to be longer than the magical novelette line, I have been likely to put them aside half-finished and focus on something in the two to five thousand word range for which there are a kajillion markets.

I'm trying to stop that, because I really like some of my novelette ideas. They keep accreting text because I poke at them a bit at a time--I don't seem to want to give up on them, even as I say to myself, "Ugh, nobody wants anything longer than five thousand words." This is flatly untrue, and I know it's untrue--my first sale to Analog wound up at novelette length once we were done with revisions, so it's not even like this is entirely recent. But it has just felt like novelettes and novellas are the fast track to spending a lot more time on something for a lot less potential.

Maybe it's that I'm at a point in my career where I'm selling a lot of what I write, but I'm finding I'm able to let go of that and go with what the story wants. I've heard lots of people who are focused on old science fiction arguing that novellas are the ideal form for the genre, but I haven't actually found that to be the case in other people's work. I like novelettes. They don't bloat so much, but they have more room for the world to complicate and iterate. I don't always need that, but sometimes I really enjoy it. Sometimes there are types of story that just won't fit in the classic short story range but don't have enough substance for novels, and they're worth telling, too. I feel like a novelette gives the reader much more of its world than most short stories. There are, of course, exceptions.

I have also noticed in general that the tendency to pull back and work on what I "ought" to be working on, in absence of outside forces confirming that "ought," doesn't always work very well. I've been bringing short stories and novelettes to the brink the entire last half of last year and then saying, "No, but you ought to work on novel revisions!" And indeed, this has been an incredibly personally difficult novel for me, for reasons that are major plot spoilers. But wrenching myself away from things that are working in a hare-brained attempt to work on something that isn't backs up the creative processes and gets them all tangled and sad.

So we won't be doing that. Instead, more novelettes. Because letting things develop further is really no bad thing, and will not, despite my hindbrain anxiety, result in a pile of unpublishable stories. And in any case they're not more publishable for having a few thousand words written on each and letting them just wait and languish.

So. Novelettes. Tl; dr: I'm fur 'em and wish to be more fur 'em in future.
Tags: publishing, stupid brain tricks

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