Saturday, July 10, 2010

Who doesn't love a quickie?

I write one book a year, and while that’s a speed both my readers and I would love to hasten, so far it has worked well, allowing me time to seek some sort of balance between my writerly and personal lives. However, I’ve also found that short stories are a great way to give readers of my Zodiac series a little somethin’-somethin’ between novels, as well as a way to keep me creatively fresh and inspired. So far I’ve done one per year, and all, save one, have been related to my main series.

Now, I realize not everybody likes short stories. There was a time when I could only consume full-length novels, and the longer the better. (Diana Gabaldon’s OUTLANDER series, anyone?) There’s nothing I love more than allowing a good storyteller to take me by the hand and lead me into a world I’d never have imagined - and fully disappear for hours at that. Yet times and tastes change, and while I still love to get lost in someone else’s mind, the shorts belonging to authors I love have also begun battling for space on my bookshelves. They’re like appetizers instead of full course meals, line drawings instead of oil paintings, and a medium that should be considered separate from its longer fictional counterpart, because it is, both in form and function.

However the strange thing for me as a writer has been my inability to write a short from the point of view of my series protagonist, Joanna Archer. Maybe it’s because the Zodiac series belongs so wholly to her, maybe I know her too well, and maybe I need a creative break in between our time together. But I’ve found that shorts are a great way to explore side characters I love, and find out what they’ve been doing both before and while Joanna is off on her risky adventures. So far I’ve written of her mother, Zoe, in HOLIDAYS ARE HELL. I’ve written of her lover, Hunter, in UNBOUND. And in this month’s DARK AND STORMY KNIGHTS (July 20) of her once-foe, Skamar, explaining and exploring many of that character's actions and choices in last month’s release, CHEAT THE GRAVE.

Still, in every case, my interest in these side characters and stories are all Joanna-related. The shorts address their hows and whys in relation to her, which is important because at the end of the day - battles and paranormal setting and superheroes aside - I write about relationships, both interpersonal and in relation to our world … whatever world that might be.

So what about you all? What’s your relationship and interest in short stories, if any? Have shorts ever made you want to pick up a main series, or follow a new character into a more fully developed world? And, if so, who are your favorites and why?


tetewa said...

I enjoy reading books with short stories, it introduces me to new authors!

Alexx said...

I Like Shorts... Both by authors I love and authors I have not met yet. It gives me a chance to get to know a new author with out investing in a novel.

Crystal @ RBtWBC said...

I like shorts. Like you said Vicki, they're like little appetizers and it does give me something while I am waiting for the next book to come out. So THANK YOU for doing these. =) Because for impatient people like me, a year is a long time!
It is also a great way to find new authors. There has been a ton, Maggie Shayne was one. I read one of her shorts in an anthology and liked it so went looking for more of her work and found her Wings in the Night series.
I'm looking forward to Skamar's story!
Have a great weekend =)

Sullivan McPig said...

I like short stories and anthologies as I can try out some new writers that way. I started reading Anne Bishop's Black Jewels series after reading a short story in an anthology which I absolutely loved.

Barbara E. said...

I've always enjoyed anthologies because it gives me a chance to read a selection of different authors and there's usually a few I've never read before. Reading the short stories by authors I already love is great too, especially when they're featuring secondary characters who deserve some recognition of their own.

John (johnnie_cakes) said...

I really enjoy the short stories. I like catching up with secondary characters, or seeing what goes on between books.

I also really like the collections because they often feature stories by a few authors I really like, and maybe a couple I'm curious about or have been meaning to check out. There have been several where I've read a story in a collection and liked it enough to go pick up the first book in an author's series. That's how I started reading Charlaine Harris, Karen Chance, and Jim Butcher.

Sharon S. said...

I only seek out shorts to get more info on the characters I already love. When you are talking UF you need to understand the world that has been created to appreciate the story sometimes. It is almost like the deleted scenes on a DVD. Parts that didn't make it in cause of time/content, but gives insight. I love Rachel Morgan and Kat and Bones shorts.
I would rather read the first few chapters of a new author than a short. That is why I love the kindle, free samples! I think it gives a better idea of how the author writes and how the story will unfold.

Merrie Destefano said...

I love short stories and I'm so glad to see anthologies becoming popular again. Used to be, that was how you could get good sci fi. Then anthologies seemed to fade away, like they had been a passing fad. Okay, I'm probably confessing how old I am now. But yeah, lots of times I would go hunting for an author's full-length books because of a short story that I read.

Great post, Vicki! And I have to say, Dark and Stormy Knights looks like a fab book. =)

Danielle said...

I love anthologies, and this one is at the top of my list for 2010! I can't wait for it's release--and I look forward to reading your SS Vicki!

Jessica @ a GREAT read said...

I like short stories because it allows me to visit, possibly, with some of my favorite characters while I eagerly await the release of the next book. It lets you see into that world again while you're away and know that things are still happening and whatnot. Sometimes the stories can even make their way in mentioning into a novel. And I'll know what they're talking about it. So it can be beneficial too!

Starlit Rogue said...

I love them as both an aspiring author and a reader!

As an author I use them to explore characters to find out more about them, or develop history for them. Or cause mayham and tragedy without going on to more than 50K words.

As a reader I like them for the same reason. Especially in anothologies! I never would have picked up half the author's novels had they not been in an anthology that had a short story from an author I did follow!

Your Little Photo Girl

Rachel498 said...

I'm not really into short stories. However, if they're about a character I'm interested in, or I know about, I will read it. I like knowing more about a secondary character and learning new things about them. I haven't read any anthologies so far, but there are a few that have caught my eye, but only because they feature stories about characters I know.
Maybe I should give them a try. I might like them :)

nymfaux said...

well, so far my own writing experience has pretty much been on the short side...but I'm working on that.

As for reading...I totally agree with your analogy about the appetizer and the full course--problem is I'm a greedy, hungry reader and I always want more. If an author is between books, I'm not going to turn down a snack. I agree with you that it's a good way to get perspectives and details on other characters, and I think the side stories can really add to building the main character's world.

My issue with a lot of short stories I've read, mostly in the romance genre, is that I don't feel satisfied when I'm done. I think it's especially an issue with romance, because there's usually such a set format, so the reader knows what to expect for the most part, and when you shorten the story even more you loose a lot of the juicy details, the parts of the story that you like to savor.

To recap, I usually stay away from short stories, unless they're related to author's and character's I'm already reading, which in that case I devour everything I can.

Anonymous said...

Shorts and anthologies have definitely introduced me to some authors I may not have picked up otherwise. Usually I'll pick them up if they include 2-3 authors I already enjoy.
Not counting you, of course, I think my favorite shorts are from Jim Butcher and Charlaine Harris.
Can't wait for Skamar's POV! More like a caviar appetizer than a lil somethin'-somethin'!

wildlower said...

If I'm not to sure of an author I might pick up an anthology that they are in...even though some authors aren't the best at writing shorts (either WAY short or too much info).

If the short is part of the series I definitely pick it up. It's also nice when an author writes something different than the series I'm reading from them.

It is hard to pick one...however it was through a short that I found you and started reading the Zodiac series.

Thanks for putting out great work!!


Skitty.jann said...

I found YOU from your first short story about Zoe when I bought the anthology because of another writer I liked. I am anxiously awaiting a short story about the twisted souls on your board - I am sure that would be a page turner!!! :-)

Vicki Pettersson said...

Wow - fantastic comments! It's so interesting to hear as an author how work is received based on length and format.

Whatever you prefer - happy reading!

Cylver said...

Not too late to add a comment, I hope! Generally, if I'm already familiar with a given author, I prefer novels to short stories. Short stories usually just serve to whet my appetite for something longer! But I think short stories are a great way for me to get to know writers I haven't read before. Plus, sometimes plot snippets can make for a great short story, but just wouldn't work if drawn out into a novel-length work.

Nicole Murphy said...

I love shorts, but I find them so god-damn hard to write! Slowly but surely, I'm getting better.

I love seeing more of the world I've fallen in love with from the novels. Keep churning out the shorts, I say :)

Debi Murray said...

I love anthologies....exposure to more authors is great. I like reading short stories when I only have a few minutes to read or just before bed-time as a treat. I think it is a great way for series authors to get background info on side characters into the mix without detracting from the main characters' story. Also, some tales just can't be told in novel length so more power to the short story writers...may they always be short, sweet, and to the point. LOL!

Brenda Hyde said...

I used to have a book philosophy. The long the better. The more epic the series, the more I wanted to read it. In the last two years though I have really warmed up to short stories and anthologies. They are like appetizers- I have discovered so many cool authors by reading a short story by them, then going on to read their books.

Can't wait for Dark and Stormy Nights!