Okay, a little fun this week (and a look at what a healthy writing habit can do for you). It is the end of the year, after all. Too, after the year we’ve had I need a joyful glance back at the milestones I’ve reached over the last five years—and didn’t realize I’d reached.
That’s right. I’m writing this on December 15th and it’s been just over an hour since I realized what I’d done—well over a year ago.
Let me explain…
If you’re familiar with word counts as they relate to fiction then you know there are names for various length works. Opinions differ over each category’s range, though, but here’s what I’ve found to be a good consensus:
- Flash Fiction (100 to 1,000)
- Short Story (1,000 to 7,500)
- Novelette (7,500 to 17,000)
- Novella (17,000 to 40,000)
- Novel (40,000 and over)
So, after excessive digressing, here’s my topic: I’ve written at least three works I’m satisfied with in each of those categories.
The recent surprise was discovering I’d written a novelette when I didn’t think I had (I thought it was a long short story. What’s more, I’ve written six of them. Even stranger, I’d not written a decent story at any of these lengths until 2015. This is about stories I’m satisfied with so I’m leaving out high school and ignoring my earlier experience writing bad novels.
Success, though, didn’t come first with a novel.
It was in August 2015 that I wrote Gryphon Gray, my first short story since high school and the first that wasn’t an embarrassment (it’s available to read on this website). I was prompted to write it after someone voiced the opinion that it was almost impossible to write a fantasy short story (I don’t remember who).
Once I’d written one, though, they kept coming. After I won NaNo that year I went on a tear, writing one short story after another, each 4-5K. At one point I wrote ten in ten days in late November. It was the most insane production I’ve ever had.
After that, the more dominos fell.
I finally struck novel gold when I drafted Trust in the Forgotten in April 2016. It’s Bk1 in Riparia’s series. That was a victory that was hard fought given how many bad novels came before it.
The next category conquered was flash fiction. It’s my least favorite length, but it can be fun. I’ve written four, but the first was Stepping Stones in March 2017. I followed that with The Bridge in Distant Farthing a year later because I wanted to see if I could write a fantasy flash fiction. Both stories are on this website.
Trivia! Earlier this month I revisited Farthing for a novella and, yes, the bridge is still there.
Novella, though, wasn’t the next category to fall.
My first ever novelette occurred by accident in May 2018 when I drafted Song of Darkness, which was 12K. It’s tied to the novel Stealing Light, which tells the story of Vista, a student at Thornwillow School. Vistanna has six dorm mates, one of whom is Ryleen. Song of Darkness was her story. That December I wrote the other five stories, all novelettes.
Finally, we make it to my first novella, which I drafted in November 2019. Choices for Zephtasha (30K) was the sequel to the novel, Protecting the Pneuma Key, both written that month as a part of NaNoWriMo.
I was so excited that I wrote another novella the following month. This year (so far) I’ve written two more.
It’s interesting, too, that my head seems to possess a word count radar. My stories within each category tend to fall close to the same length.
Yes, all four of my flash fiction are less than 1,000 words, but none of them are less than 900 words. I always push the limit.
Short stories? Always between 4-5K. Novelettes? Always between 11-13K. My novels have thus far all been 120-140K, with most of them closer to 120K. The longest, So Others Might Remember, is the third in a series so that’s a little different.
Oh, that reminds me … my first sequel? A River in Each Hand in November 2016. It might be my greatest accomplishment. I must have written ten openings for that novel because I kept trying to retell Bk1.
Well, there you go, my little trip down memory lane. If you’ve waded through all these dates (can you tell I liked history?) then I thank you. This was a lot of fun, even the research.