Some short stories I can churn out in one sitting. Others… take a bit longer. Such as one I’ve been working on since this summer. To be fair, I took a very long break. From, about… August to December. What can I say? School got in the way.
Anyway, the story I’ve been working on has got out of hand. Earlier I wrote a post about the same story, talking about how the plot completely changed. And since this stupid computer won’t let me link to it – it’s the one entitled ‘Wait… What Just Happened?’ Moving on. Basically, this short story got a lot less short and a whole lot more story. It currently weighs in at 20 pages and over 8000 words. And I haven’t even written the final scene yet! As I complained to a friend, it’s now too short for a novel and too long to send to a magazine as a short story. “Stupid story!” I told it, “You’re marketably unviable!” (Is marketably a word? I’m making it one.) I didn’t get it as bad as my friend, however, whose ‘short story’ is currently over 75000 words and still growing. We’ve all got problems.
So what do you do when your story has a mind of its own? The first thing to do – which I am currently doing – is to finish it out. See how long it is and decide if you want to keep it as it is, chop it down, or stretch it out. If you’re just writing for the fun of it, and never intend to publish anything, then it doesn’t matter. But if you do want to publish this, you may have to make a few adjustments. Generally the size for short stories in magazines is around 2000 to 5000 words. And novels clock in at over 50000 words – and that’s short. But if you really can’t make your story fit in either of these ranges, don’t sweat it. You can always put it in a collection of other short-ish stories and try to publish that. Of course, short story anthologies aren’t exactly flying off the shelves, but we do what we can. And sometimes, unfortunately, a story just won’t work. But at least you got the fun and experience out of writing it, and you can always read it yourself, or send it to friends and family.