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  • Writer's pictureJason

Size Matters, Right?

Berkeley Breathed's "Bloom County" gang eloquently demonstrating the point

Why are the camps of story length so heavily barricaded and armored? I mean, one doesn't see too many stragglers between the 'I love big tomes' and the 'tight-and-quickie' fans. This doesn't always mean novels versus short stories either; this could be modern novels versus novels of the '70s. And '60s. And etc. Battle lines are often drawn around the 80,000 mark, though there are those who dig defensive lines as low as 60k.

Yet I struggle identifying which camp I belong in, sometimes to the point of believing I'm a double-agent with unknown allegiance. I love the quick-hitting action of tightly woven tales from short stories to short novels. I totally enjoy getting into the depths of characters I love and can absolutely ignore/forget it takes a forklift and dolly to haul around a monolithic work.

I was introduced to reading at a young age, all via novels. Granted, size was smaller as a wee lad, but I didn't find comics till my teens and didn't read too many magazines or anthologies (outside those terrific Alfred Hitchcock Present's mystery/horror books) until young adulthood. Even then, I did not get in the habit of reading spec fic anthologies till after my 20s, did not begin collecting the heroic ones till my 30s. . . when I started editing and then publishing them. I'm fanatically enamored with them now -- yet my favorite books and authors and go-to reads are the ones I can invest in for longer periods and lifetimes of connection.

On the editing side of things, I will always prefer short stories. Quite honestly, I get bored editing longer works. On the publishing side of things, I love themed anthologies (as hopefully y'all can tell), though one of the reasons is to introduce and hopefully connect readers to new authors who have longer works for them to read. On the writing side of things, well, I've far more short stories written than novels, very few of the former and none of the latter published. I'd say while I can finish more shorts, the lack of publishing them rather nullifies them as sufficient proof of anything. And on the reading side? In the mood of the moment I'll pick up either anthology or novel, seek short or long. Depends upon available time, depth I'm able to invest, immediate action I'm after, and frankly the pull -- be it cover art, name, blurb, whatever. Though I am a completist (a habit I am trying to break, which I've discovered is for some reason easier for me with an e-book than a real book), I seem equally willing to set aside a novel that bores and an anthology with boring stories, reading other works from comics to other full titles before returning.

I went into this post hoping to discover by its end which camp I belong in. I have not, though I believe I can declare I lean toward reading tomes and publishing shorts. Which camp - and why - do you claim?

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