Guest Post: “Short Stories with Delusions of Grandeur”
I think big. Even when I’m not trying. When I think I’ve finally managed to think small, someone reads a short story and says “Wow, I can’t wait to read the rest!”
Uh… Rest? What rest?
Now it’s fantastic that people want more. As writers, wanting readers to want more is the holy grail. I should be grateful people want more. I am grateful.
But wanting more becomes a problem when there is, in fact, no more…
To start with, it usually means the story has been crammed into a pair of jeans about four sizes too small, and it’s obvious. That thing is busting at the seams. There’s so much potential, so much story, but nothing is working because the word count doesn’t allow the story to get up and stretch its legs. Character development is stunted. World building is sketched out in stark lines. Emotional responses are skimmed over.
And the ultimate problem: the enthusiastic reader will be bitterly disappointed when you tell them “here is no more”.
Confronting the Demon started out as one of those starved stories. I’d been bumping it around for maybe close to two years, trying to fix whatever wasn’t working with it, without much luck. My frustration levels were rising. Confronting the Demon, along with a half-dozen other short stories, just wouldn’t come together for me. People liked the stories. they loved the characters. but after every positive piece of feedback, there’d be one of those dreaded statements.
“I can’t wait to read the rest.”
“The setup for the main story is excellent.”
“This story is going to be epic.”
No, it’s not epic, it’s teeny weeny. OK, it’s teeny weeny epic fantasy, but it’s still teeny weeny. Isn’t it? Isn’t it? No?
Eventually I decided it would be easier to write the ideas I had to the length they required than to keep trying to think small, when it obviously wasn’t working.
I took the short story, with the dubious and uninspired working title, Tentacles, and outlined it, something I hadn’t done previously with this story, even though it’s something I do for every novel. After I was happy with the plot outline, I rewrote the entire thing from scratch. I kept the final scene, and adapted it as needed, but everything else was largely ditched.
The result? A 25,000 word novella instead of a 5,500 word short story. Just a bit of a difference…
I’m working on some of the other failed short stories too. One of them, I think, can work as a short story – it’s problem is that it is actually connected with a full-length trilogy I want to write. So, there is more… but not to this story. I think if I more obviously disconnect it, then it will stand on its own.
A third short story, In the Company of the Dead, is now going to be a full-length novel. Yes, a full-length novel. And in fantasy that means more than 100,000 words. From 3000 words, to 100,000. Just a small increase… This is the one I’m working on now.
I hear writers say a story can be as long or as short as you want it to be, and it’s just a question of the words you use. I call bullshit. Of course, you shouldn’t use redundant words, and flabby writing is to be avoided at all times. Writers shouldn’t be lazy. But some stories are just longer than others, and if you try to cram them into a box where they don’t fit… well, it won’t be pretty.
I like my pants to fit. I’m sure my story would like pants that fit, too!
The gates to hell are thrown wide when Alloran is betrayed by his best friend, Ladanyon, and framed for forbidden magic. He is hunted by the guards and the wizards both, tormented by the gruesome murder of his friends and loved ones, and crippled by fear for the living.
Now Alloran must face his demons, or damn the woman he loves.
Also featuring bonus short story ‘A Magical Melody’
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What early readers are saying about the novella
Ballintyne gives wonderful descriptions and I found myself becoming lost in the magic of her words in a picturesque world with every turned page Bella Doerres
The power-packed action will leave you breathless and the eerie suspense will make you chomp on your own nails, beware! Satarupa
With imagination and detail that paints a full scene for the mind’s eye, Ciara takes us on a short but exciting journey into a world of magic, love and demons from hell. Miranda Wood of DustyKattís Stuff Reviews
I actually enjoyed a good fantasy novel that didn’t take days and days to read, but still offered the opportunity to get caught up in its world and story. Tracy Riva Global eBook Awards Judge
“This story wasn’t quite what I expected; it was better! The first pages surprised me, reminding strongly of THE WAY OF SHADOWS by Brent Weeks (the scenes, setting and story feel). I was immediately drawn in.” – Dr. S. Drecker
“I will be recommending this to all my paranormal addicts.” – Leanne Herrera
She holds degrees in law and accounting, and has been a practicing financial services lawyer since 2004. She is both an idealist and a cynic.
She started reading epic fantasy at the age of nine, when she kidnapped Castle of Wizardry by David Eddings from her father. Another two years passed before she began her first attempts at the craft of writing. Confronting the Demon is her debut book.
She enjoys horse-riding, and speculation about taking over the world. If she could choose to be anything it would be a dragon, but instead she shares more in common with Dr. Gregory House of House. M.D.