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Thread: Short Stories

  1. #1
    Neal Asher nealasher's Avatar
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    Short Stories

    My short story Mason's Rats has been taken by David G Hartwell & Kathryne Cramer for their Year's Best SF 11, and I've since been contacted by Gardner Dozois who wants another story published in Asimov's -- Softly Spoke the Gabbleduck -- for his 'Year's Best' anthology.

    Now, of course, I really should knuckle down and get some more short stories out there!

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    Administrator Administrator Hobbit's Avatar
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    Whilst reading Voyage of Sable Keech, Neal, I found a Gabbleduck reference - is there a connection between the story and the Sable Keech reference?

    Whilst we are here, I'm interested in your thoughts about writing short stories.

    Some writers find it difficult to write short stories and novels well, others feel that the benefits of short story writing are outweighed by the effort in writing it. Any thoughts?

    Hobbit
    Mark

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    Neal Asher nealasher's Avatar
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    Hobbit, all but one of my books (Cowl) are set in the 'Polity' future. Gridlinked, The Line of Polity & Brass Man all concern one set of characters. The Skinner is set about 200 years later and The Voyage of the Sable Keech is a sequel to it. Gabbleducks first make an appearance in Line, but I so much fell in love with the idea of them that I wrote two short stories (set in the Polity) concerning them: Softly Spoke the Gabbleduck and to be published in a later addition of Asimov's The Gabble. They'll also be putting in an appearance in Polity Agent, which will be published about ten months from now. I guess you could draw a parallel with Niven's 'Known Space' in that a story might be only about humans and the Pak, but there might be an oblique reference to the Pierson's Puppeteers, because all the stories are connected.

    I find writing short stories a damned sight easier than writing novels -- one to one. However, in terms of word-count a novel is easier i.e. writing a 5000-word short story is harder than writing 5000 words of a novel. Essentially, prior to publication by Macmillan, I never focused on just shorts or just novels. I can understand how a writer who only focused on one might find the other difficult.
    Last edited by nealasher; January 23rd, 2006 at 09:19 AM.

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    Administrator Administrator Hobbit's Avatar
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    Thanks for that, Neal - I can look forward to more gabbleduck references in the future!

    Essentially, prior to publication by Macmillan, I never focused on just shorts or just novels.
    Well, there is the old adage that 'a story is as long as it takes' - but it is interesting that you find writing short stories different.

    I have had a number of writers tell me that the graft in producing/rewriting/redrafting a short story makes them harder to write than a novel, where you have the space to go with the flow, so to speak. (Though the time taken to write a novel is obviously longer).

    I've always thought that the broader canvas would be harder myself!

    Hobbit
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    Neal Asher nealasher's Avatar
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    I guess it could be argued that when writing a novel I'm only writing a bunch of short stories all wrapped up together, each plot thread being a short story, and in some cases each little section between breaks. Anyway, the inventive creative bit when you're splurging away through the first three-quarters of a novel is fine. The difficult bit is ending the novel, tying off all those threads, not copping out with a deus ex machina or a Blake's 7 kill them all ending, and not leaving the reader cursing at you.

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    Administrator Administrator Hobbit's Avatar
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    LOL.

    I'd love to see you do a Blakes 7 type ending, Neal!

    Hobbit
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    Neal Asher nealasher's Avatar
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    Ah, it seems the two stories I mentioned at the start of this thread also appear on the Locus recommended reading list.

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    Neal Asher nealasher's Avatar
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    In a break between books, I decided to sit down and produce some short stories. Maybe because Iím now more used to writing at length, these stories grew in the telling so I ended up with Alien Archaeology at 21,000 words and Owner Space at 18,000 words. I hesitate to call them Ďshortí since the stories I have submitted to magazines have usually fallen between 5,000 and 15,000 words. The good news is that though itís long, Sheila Williams at Asimovís has accepted Alien Archaeology.

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    Neal Asher nealasher's Avatar
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    Owner Space, which is set in a future covered by none of my full-length novels, but will be familiar to those who have read The Engineer or The Engineer ReConditioned, for it is the same setting for stories there called Proctors, The Owner and (only in the latter collection) Tiger Tiger. Owner Space has now been accepted by Gardner Dozois for his anthology provisionally titled Galactic Empires. Excellent stuff.

  10. #10
    Neal - great news, I love the Owner stories you've written to date (I think they are probably the best of your short stories that I've read). I will definately be buying this new anthology simply to get my grubby little hands on that one story!

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    Neal Asher nealasher's Avatar
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    Others have said that and I have considered doing an entire book about the Owner. I see him as a lone immortal who moves out way ahead of the human colonisation of space, then persists and grows stronger whilst the human race falls back into some sort of Dark Age out of which is slowly rises again. Mebbe.

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    Administrator Administrator Hobbit's Avatar
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    Yes, I liked the Owner stories too.

    Any more thoughts about writing Fantasy, Neal? I think I read somewhere that you thought about it at one time.

    And as an aside, I would recommend 'Softly Spoke the Gabbleduck' which I have only recently caught up with.

    Hobbit
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  13. #13
    Neal Asher nealasher's Avatar
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    Hobbit, I've written fantasy but just not had it published in novel form. Here's a bit direct from my website:


    The Staff of Sorrows, Assassin out of Twilight, The Yellow Tower
    . These three books weigh in at 180,000words in total and chart Hadrim's quest for vengeance to the Tower. Sounds like the usual stuff. WRONG! There are no elves dwarves or cuddly furry creatures in this and Hadrim doesn't even have a magic sword. Take a look at this somewhat dated reader's report.

    Infinite Willows Series:

    Creatures of the Staff (80,000words). Well, we've had the war and now we get the fallout. It's sometimes worse. I'd reckon on about another 160,000 words worse. Heh.


    One day I'll get back to them. You can find samples, synopses and even a reader's report done for an agent I had way back then, here:

    http://freespace.virgin.net/n.asher/storystore.htm

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    Administrator Administrator Hobbit's Avatar
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    Thanks Neal. Interesting that.

    Might be worth going back to it at some point? (Having said that, I do know authors who cringe when they reread some of their earlier stuff and hide it away, never to be seen again!)

    How easy is it to cross genres (as a writer) anyway?

    I think it would be quite an interesting one, though. Looks like you've done a lot of the groundwork....

    Hobbit
    Mark

  15. #15
    Neal Asher nealasher's Avatar
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    It needs rewriting. As I pointed out in the interview I've mentioned here, more than a million words have passed under the editor's pencil since I was taken on my Macmillan, so I've learned a lot since writing that fantasy. Yes, I will return to it at some point, but not while I'm on roll I'm presently on. I'll make hay while the sun shines.

    Crossing genres? The writing is no more difficult, but one wonders about the sales. Going from fantasy to SF I reckon you drop sales (Stephen Donaldson?) but I'm not sure if it applies the other way round. Fantasy sales are usually higher than SF sales anyway.

    Something for the future - maybe when I'm in my dotage.

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