Tuesday, May 1, 2012

What's Your Answer? Do You Like Shorts - and More

It's time for another What's Your Answer feature. I pose questions, you offer answers in the comment section. If you answer one, feel free to expand. If you answer more, please shorten your answers. You're welcome to include one URL or blog link when replying.

Here we go:

Since I am a contributor to the soon to be released anthology, The Corner Cafe, along with some of the others here at The Blood Red Pencil, I'm offering a few related questions.

Do you like to read or write short stories?
Sometimes. Short stories are a great diversion while waiting at a doctor's office or other place where I know I can't finish a full  length book, yet prefer to read something other than magazines.

What about novellas, which are longer than short stories, but shorter than full length novels?
I've been gravitating more and more toward novellas, which are typically in the range of 20,000 words. They're not as short as short stories, and have a little more meat to them, yet get to the point instead of dragging along. It's so much easier to keep track of what's happening in a novella than a full length book.

That said, I still enjoy well-crafted, full-length books. I read them if the plot intrigues me, if I like the author. They are good for reading on vacation, or on long car rides, when I'm obviously not the driver.

I guess you've figured it out by now. I find ways and means to read any length books.

Next is a burning question that seems to be on the minds of many authors and editors.

Which is better - One or two spaces after a period?
I was taught years ago  (I won't say how many) that it's proper to put two spaces after a period. Since then, my editor, Helen Ginger, and others have mentioned that the two-space rule is out, and one is better.

I prefer one space, but old habits die hard. I sometimes forget and add that extra space. That's where the Search and Replace feature comes in handy in my software program.

Now it's your turn. Please use the comment section to voice your opinion on one or more of the above questions.
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Morgan Mandel is a past president of Chicago-North RWA,
past Library Liaison for Midwest MWA, belongs to Epic and
Sisters in Crime. Her recent release, the sci-fi romantic thriller,
Forever Young: Blessing or Curse is available on Kindle,
SmashwordsNook, other electronic media, as well as in print.

Find Excerpts and Buy Links to all four of Morgan's novels at
http://morgansbooklinks.blogspot.com/

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30 comments :

  1. Great questions! I'm interested to see what others say!

    I very rarely read short stories or novellas. I've tried, but found that I much prefer full-length novels. Anything shorter tends to feel like a teaser.

    I was never taught the two-space rule, and as a result only use one. I find it distracting to read two!

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  2. I used to be all about the novel, but then I started writing short stories and realised how different a discipline it is. Now I love them. I can't get enough!

    I learnt to type on an old typewriter where two spaces was the right thing to do. But you shouldn't do it with a modern day computer. It's all about the spaces the letters take up.

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  3. I love a good short story, Morgan, especially if it has a little twist at the end. But I'm more likely to read a full length novel than a novella these days. I enjoy the depth and sense of anticipation they bring, rather than a novella which is often cut short a little too soon for my liking.
    As for the double space? Scrivener for Mac & Windows has a cool little app that enables you to fix that problem with a single key stroke. I love it! :)

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  4. I happily wrote nothing but short fiction for decades, now collected in Requisite Variety, including a couple of novellas. Novellas are the neglected orphans of written literature but an almost perfect length for translation to the screen.

    The problem has always been with selling short fiction, particularly novelettes and novellas, which were too long for most serial publications. And chap books were never more than a miniscule niche for the literati. Digital publishing has given new life to short fiction, with cheap singles a viable option.

    I love the challenges of writing full-length fiction, but may someday return to my first love.

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  5. I read and write shorts, novellas, etc. I love a good collection of short stories. I learned two-space (back in high school in the early 70s) but use the one-space now.

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  6. So far, I see the tide is turning a bit toward shorter stories.

    Let's see what more readers are saying.

    Morgan Mandel
    http://morgansbooklinks.blogspot.com
    http://morganmandel.blogspot.com

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  7. I like short story anthologies, but haven't read too many novellas. Surprising to me, I like one space after a sentence more than two spaces. It was a bit awkward at first, but seems natural now.

    Morgan, I'm looking forward to when The Corner Cafe debuts!

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  8. I'm like adrunk that is going on a binge.I like all forms: Like many of you I find the short story great for those long unpredictable waits. I guess I find Novelas a great distraction. Depending on the plot or characters and if I identify with the protaganist you may find me in my recliner at 3 am.

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  9. Larry, since film rights are a big issue with authors, why not write a guest post for the BRP explaining why a novella is good for translation to movie script? Consider yourself invited!

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  10. And I'm going to pracice. Single space, here I come. So there! ;)

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  11. Obviously, my spelling went out the window with this exercise. Can only focus on one issue at a time. So there!

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  12. Oh, the old 'one vs. two spaces' brewhaha ... i was a two-space man until I became environmentally aware and realized how much valuable paper I was using ... now I am devout one-spacer.

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  13. About that one space, two space deal after periods. As Christopher mentions, if you're printing, using one space does take up less paper. I assumed a while back that the main reason for the switch was for publishers to save money on printing expenses, but not being wasteful is another good reason.

    Morgan Mandel
    http://morgansbooklinks.blogspot.com
    http://morganmandel.blogspot.com

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  14. The two space rule many moons ago was because of typesetting requirements. Typesetters needed to see the two spaces to be sure that a sentence ended. It was also based on the font used. That extra space gave the reader's eye a definite break between sentences. With the advent of digital publishing, those extra spaces created problems with some digital formatting programs. Someone more conversant with technology can probably explain exactly what that problem is.

    Anyway, when I started selling some work to online publications a few moons ago, I was given guidelines that said to only use one space when a sentence ends. It was hard at first to break that long-time habit of the two spaces, but now the new habit has prevailed.

    BTW, I love short stories. They are a good thing to read when time is limited, but you want a complete story, not just a chapter in a story you are not sure when you can finish.

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  15. My thoughts on intersentence spacing are too detailed to be contained in the comment section.

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  16. I love reading just about anything, but it depends on what I'm reading for that determines my choice. If I want to escape the world for a while then it is definitely a full-length novel. If I'm waiting at the doctor's office then short stories or a magazine.

    I was raised with the 2 space rule as well and find it a good way to double check myself that this is the end of that thought. That's my perspective as a writer.

    As a reader I like the 2 space rule for similar reasons--it ends the thought.

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  17. I hadn't heard that one about typesetting requirements and 2 spaces after periods.

    Morgan Mandel
    http://morgansbooklinks.blogspot.com
    http://morganmandel.blogspot.com

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  18. Double spacing, or placing two spaces between sentences (sometimes referred to as English spacing), came into widespread use with the introduction of the typewriter in the late 19th century. It was felt that with the monospaced font used by a typewriter, "a single word space ... was not wide enough to create a sufficient space between sentences" and that extra space might help signal the end of a sentence.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sentence_spacing
    Everything you could ever not want to know at that link. :D

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  19. I prefer short stories and novellas to full-length novels both for reading and writing. I write novels and novellas, but since I write tight prose, the shorter format is very appealing.
    I also read before bed and enjoy the limited format so that I'm able to finish a story in a brief period.
    As for the double/single space issue, I still like the look of the double, but with true-type fonts and digital manuscripts, single spaces are now the standard. It took me a while to get into the habit of not putting in two.

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  20. I've had several short stories published, and sometimes think about writing more, but I prefer writing novels where I can really get to know my characters.

    I was also taught (originally) to use two spaces between sentences. I had to retrain myself to use one space - then I discovered that the proofing option in Word allows you to choose one space (and highlights it as an error if you leave more than one!)

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  21. Dani, It certainly is amazing what you can find at Wikipedia!

    Paula, I'll have to look up that proofing option in Word, where I can choose one space after periods. I try hard, but still forget at times.

    Morgan Mandel
    http://morgansbooklinks.blogspot.com
    http://morganmandel.blogspot.com

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  22. I prefer a novel I can really sink my teeth into and pick up again and again, until it's done. Finding a new one I like is always a bit of a challenge, so when I get one I really enjoy, I want it to continue. I should try reading more short stories, though - change my habits a bit!

    Some of my clients use two spaces instead of one, which I have to fix by using "Find and Replace" - not a big deal, but just another little job to attend to. The worst is the odd client who varies between one and four spaces between sentences! A major headache, as Find & Replace doesn't work for that! A pain in the butt, actually! LOL

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  23. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  24. I love short stories and novels, depending on mood and time.

    I like two spaces after the period and the statement that something in English usage is new is a sure way to turn me off.

    BrendaW.

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  25. New is not always easy. I'm still aggravated by Word 2007. 2003 seemed so much easier and not as scattered. I've got Word 2010 on my husband's computer, but won't use it unless I'm desperate.

    Morgan Mandel
    http://morgansbooklinks.blogspot.ocm
    http://morganmandel.blogspot.com

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  26. Morgan,Elle teaches a Word for Writers course, you know. http://hearwritenow.com/word-4-writers/

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  27. Thanks for the info, Dani.

    Morgan Mandel

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  28. Hi Morgan,
    I read what I write, so I prefer a novel, around 65,000 words. Can't say I have read any novellas, maybe I should. Not in to short stories I am afraid.

    cheers

    Margaret

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  29. I write short mysteries and have had several published in anthologies. I love reading them - and devour magazines like Ellery Queens, etc! I love the fact that short mysteries are so easily accessible for my Kobo Touch! Sometimes a short story is the perfect read. But I also like longer novels as well.

    Also, I think with the proliferation of Kobos, Kindles, Nooks and the other eReaders, we'll be seeing more mysteries of any length! To me, that's a good thing.

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  30. I started out writing short stories and haven't stopped even tho I now also write novels. I love writing the short stuff because I can spend time with different characters, places, styles and voices. I like reading short stories for the same reasons. Variety. I also like finishing something in weeks instead of months. . .or years!

    I'm still excited that two of my short stories have won Derringer Awards. Yippeedoo!

    Last year I published a collection of my short stories
    http://tinyurl.com/7fz8u6m and am sill proud of every one of them.

    When I finish writing anything, I do a "Replace" and change all double spaces at the end of sentences to single. It's my understanding editors want it that way.

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The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.

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