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Barrett
August 14th, 2007, 03:57 PM
I've heard it said that a number of genres flourish well in short story format, and a few seem fairly obvious.

Horror, SciFi and Mystery all have thick histories overflowing with memorable short stories, but some say that Fantasy, born of myths and fairy tales, carries the expectation of immersion. Long-term commitment to characters and setting in a short story is considered extremely difficult by some fantasy writers, and some consider the format the less desirable, compared to full blown novels. The standard concern is that it's hard to go wandering the wondrous world with extraordinary characters when you only have thirty pages.
I agree that some tales that are classic plots in fantasy (the journey, the rise of the hero) might not be a good choice, but I don't see those as the only options. Seems to me that shorts are the place to explore other things.

I'm curious as to what you folks think. Is fantasy more difficult to write in short story form? Do you find that short stories become vignettes more than complete tales when aiming for 10,000 words or less?

Finally, what advice for the short fantasy writer would you offer?

BradHart
August 14th, 2007, 05:33 PM
Fantasy is no more hard to write in short format than any other genre. You need to be mindful of several things when writing it though.

1) Know who your market is. If you are just writing it for yourself it doesn't matter what length or open ended ideas go unresolved. If you are writing for publication know how long of a story they will accept.

2) Once you know how long your story can be outline it. This is a right pain in the ass for many of us rebel against rules don't tell me how to write types, but it is one of the best lessons you can learn especially in short fiction.

3) Once you have it outlined cut away every unnecessary detail, character, and open ambiguity.

4) Learn to write tight prose.

5) Lastly and most importantly tell anyone who has told you how and what to do with your writing to, "Go F**K themselves!" Do that quietly and in your head to get it out of your system, then carefully think about everything they had to tell you because there is probably a lot of truth be hind it no matter how much it stings in what they actually said to you. Some of the best advice I ever got about my writing was from complete despicable forum trolls.

KatG
August 14th, 2007, 05:50 PM
Yes, fairy tales are very long. "Cinderella" is several hundred pages and "The Shoemaker and the Elves" usually has to be presented as a series. :) But a few writers have managed it over the decades, publishing in the same magazines and anthologies as the sf writers or in more general fiction publications. There are many collections and you can study them if you like, and see if you also think that fantasy writing can't be done in 15-30 pages.