Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Long Stories

Nag’s Head, N.C.  – I’m at the beach, in the happy position of having written four detective short stories, featuring P.I. Frank Swiver, and having published them all.  Ellery Queen bought #s 1, 2, & 4, and I self-published #3 on Amazon as a 99 cent Kindle short story (The Girls from Nanking).

It looks like it’s time to write another short story.  As it happens, I’ve been reading (or re-reading) Raymond Chandler’s Trouble Is My Business.  It’s a book of four of Chandler’s best, most developed short stories.  I love the way he creates a setting in these stories, and builds from scene to scene.  The action can be fast, but the pace is leisurely.    
I counted the words on three random pages, added, divided, and multiplied.  “Trouble Is my Business” (the story) is about 20,000 words.  “Finger Man” is around 19,700.  I had trouble selling my Ellery Queen stories—the first one came in at 11,500 words originally, and I cut it back 2,000 at ed. Janet Hutchings’ request.  (She was right.) 

I think my second story, “Ice,” coming in the Sept.-Oct. issue is under 8,000, but the other two are both more than 9,000 words, and I felt hard pressed to wrap up the “Girls from Nanking” at its current length.    I’m comfortable with the long-ish short story.  It just seems natural.  I like to compose a story of six or seven good scenes, and that’s going to take up some words. 
I’d love to hear what you think.  Does a reader enjoy a long short story?  Or is that old-fashioned?  The modern literary short story ranges from 6,000 to 7,500 words, often even shorter.  What do you like?  I’ve tried to set up the blog to enable your comments.  Let me know, or e-mail harley.c.mazuk@gmail.com

Saturday, May 5, 2012

"Girls from Nanking" on Amazon

I published "The Girls from Nanking," my third Frank Swiver story, on Amazon last night for the Kindle.  See http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0080IVMBA to download and enjoy.  And if you do enjoy, leave a review on Amazon, OK? 

Oh, yeah.  Print your Amazon receipt and bring it to the Black Lizard Lounge for a free drink this week. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Focus vs. exposition

Here's some advice for suspense and mystery writers from Writer's Digest: 
“Maintain focus.  Don’t interrupt the scene with exposition.”
Well, now consider Tea Obreht's "The Laugh."  (and if you haven't read it, see http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2009/08/the-laugh/7531/ )  Tea does a swell job of building tension and momentum.  Then she breaks off and gives you something that happened in the past.  A flash back, an exposition, call it what you will.  I think it works because she gets us to read the exposition by teasing us with the promise of what's going on in real time.  All we gots to do is get through this little piece of background, and we can get back to the action. 
What do you think? 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Once more into the iTunes Breach

This is just a test for a class I’m doing on podcasting.  You can ignore it.  But stay tuned, as I’ll have my own podcast up and running after a while!