"I don't want to earn my living; I want to live."


August 2015

Which medium?

I don’t know if it’s just me – but I love writing, all kinds of writing. I enjoy poetry when the mood takes me, I’ve written stories both short and long, plays, TV series, movies…

When your muse pops along with a little idea for you, do you make a conscious choice about what kind of writing you will use for that idea?

I had a thought pop into my head a few days ago; a brand new idea. I almost immediately knew it was a film rather than a novel. The question is how? And why?

I found myself wondering, do other writers have a system they follow? Do you make a conscious choice about what you are going to write or does it arrive in your head packaged a certain way? I’m genuinely curious, so please do pop your answer in the comment box!



Novel/Novella/Novelette – What’s the Difference?

You might believe the title of this post to be a somewhat stupid question. Indeed I think most people have a sort of vague idea, in terms of actual book size (or how many inches thick) how long any of the above should be but how many of us know the figures used by publishers to determine which is which?

I know I didn’t. So when I stumbled across a list of just those things, like the good little blogger I am, I want to share.

Apparently, a Short Story can be anywhere between 1,000 and 7,500 words. These are the types that can be found in anthology collections, periodicals or genre zines. All look for work around this length.

A Novelette therefore, is between 7,500 and 20,000 words. More often than not, work of this size can be difficult to sell to publishers being too long to insert comfortably into a magazine, yet too short to be a novel in its own right. The best way forward is to compile three of four works of this length and put them forward as a compilation novel.

Now, a Novella ranges from 20,000 to 50,000 words. Most traditional publishers will shy away from publishing work of this length but it is ideal for the e-book market. The online reader tends to squeeze a little reading into a busy day, they have little patience to sit through a 100,000 word novel. On the other hand, if you are a non-fiction writer, work of this length can be entirely acceptable.

The Novel of course sits between 50,000 and 110,000 words long, though most publishers prefer a minimum of around 70,000 words for a first novel – some even hesitate if the piece is shorter than 80,000 words! At the other end of the scale, editors tend to balk at piece of work longer than 110,000 words, because all the while they are considering profit and costs. They need to be sure they can produce a book that looks exciting enough to readers without over-extending their budget.

Finally, Epics & Sequels are usually over 110,000 words. So if you write a novel that is far over the 110,000 word mark you have a few options available to you. You could attempt to condense the work down to a more saleable size of course but if you can’t do that without crushing the story it may be time to consider lengthening the novel to create a sequel, perhaps even a trilogy if the story has the legs. These things needs to be considered, unless of course you are Stephen King, then you can do what you want more or less but for us lowly unheard of writers the above info can be very handy.

Remember though, this is just an estimated guide – all publishers are different. Use a bit of common sense and if it is possible check the guidelines of the publication you intend to submit your work too. Most presses and publishers have websites. Publishers accepting shorter works for instance will specify maximum lengths more often than not and novels are considered according to the strength of the story not how many words you have crammed in so don’t follow religiously or crush your work if you can help it!

I hope you might find this as useful as I do.


Response to “Do you hate E L James? #fiftyshades”

As is fairly usual in the blogging world, I spend much more time having a nose at other people’s blogs than I do on writing my own. A few days ago, I stumbled across this post entitled “Do you hate E L James? #fiftyshades” on Damyanti’s Daily (w)rite and stopped off for a read.

The article is well written and does just what any good article/blog post should do – it causes you, the reader, to stop and think. So, this post is my response to that article, which you can read here:

Now, first off I have a confession; I read the whole trilogy :/ though it was clear by the bottom of the first page that it was not written to the good standard that we have rightly come to expect from published books. But the woman had the presence of thought to write about a taboo – something everyone has heard of in whispered conversations in dark places but never really understood. While some mock her for it or suggest she is encouraging abusive relationships (Not an opinion I share) very few people mention the fact that she spotted a hole in the ‘market’ and took advantage of it. Now in spite of her far from top notch writing skills, that has sold her an awful lot of books!

As to the grade of the writing itself; in the beginning I think she was writing on the internet, much the same as many of us have done. And while that doesn’t mean we should lower our standards – it’s a fantastic platform on which to learn the trade so to speak – with other writers often leaving helpful critique and constructive criticism in the comment box. When it came to being a properly published piece of fiction – I’m assuming James had the help of editors, proof-readers, copy-editors and such – surely these people too have to take some responsibility for the shoddy writing? They are after all paid to fix inconsistencies and grammatical errors.

Lastly, as a writer who is finding all sorts of online writing communities, starting at and later finding forums and blogs just like this one, I have found that there is an awful lot of support. Another writer will tell you if you are doing a good job as well as pointing out any holes in your plot by asking all the right questions, usually in a kind way. The thing that I don’t understand is, what makes E L James any different? Why, when she puts herself out there is she being ridiculed and abused? Whatever happened to supporting other writers or offering the constructive criticism we have all found so useful at times? Sure – she’s rich, sold millions of books and has a nice car but when you break it down she is still just a writer, learning all the time like the rest of us.


News Items of Note #1 – The British Library

My favourite story in local news this week; The British Library in London has been made a Grade I Listed building – at the tender age of 18!

As you may or may not be aware, usually a building has to be over 30 years old before it is considered; therefore this is most out of the ordinary but none the less, wonderful. Nor is the British Library alone, seven more libraries are to be given Grade II status, though some of these are much older.

The British Library itself already has one or two claims to fame. It is the largest public building to have been built in the 20th Century and is home to prestigious documents like the Magna Carta manuscripts and let us not forget; handwritten Beatles lyrics.

The building of the library took 15 years and even after it opened its doors in 1997, it was a further four years before all of the books were moved inside. It is said to hold 14 million or so books in its five floored frame – at the centre of which is George III’s library. The 506 million pound architectural beauty is also said to house Shakespeare’s first folio and Gutenberg’s 1455 Bible; surely two of the greatest pieces of fiction ever written.

To me, it is an event to be celebrated. We hear every day of the decline of literature, how fewer and fewer people spend their leisure time reading and how Amazon’s Kindle and the like have killed the need for a real solid paperback. Surely, this must be taken as proof to the contrary?


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