30 September 2010
middle grade fiction = Anywhere from 25k to 40k, with the average at 35k
YA fiction = For mainstream YA, anywhere from about 45k to 80k; paranormal YA or YA fantasy can occasionally run as high as 120k but editors would prefer to see them stay below 100k. The second or third in a particularly bestselling series can go even higher. But it shouldn't be word count for the sake of word count.
paranormal romance = 85k to 100k
romance = 85k to 100k
category romance = 55k to 75k
cozy mysteries = 65k to 90k
horror = 80k to 100k
western = 80k to 100k (Keep in mind that almost no editors are buying Westerns these days.)
mysteries, thrillers and crime fiction = A newer category of light paranormal mysteries and hobby mysteries clock in at about 75k to 90k. Historical mysteries and noir can be a bit shorter, at 80k to 100k. Most other mystery/thriller/crime fiction falls right around the 90k to 100k mark.
mainstream/commercial fiction/thrillers = Depending upon the kind of fiction, this can vary: chick lit runs anywhere from 80k word to 100k words; literary fiction can run as high as 120k but lately there's been a trend toward more spare and elegant literary novels as short as 65k. Anything under 50k is usually considered a novella, which isn't something agents or editors ever want to see unless the editor has commissioned a short story collection. (Agent Kristin Nelson has a good post about writers querying about manuscripts that are too short.)
science fiction & fantasy = Here's where most writers seem to have problems. Most editors I've spoken to recently at major SF/F houses want books that fall into the higher end of the adult fiction you see above; a few of them told me that 100k words is the ideal manuscript size for good space opera or fantasy. For a truly spectacular epic fantasy, some editors will consider manuscripts over 120k but it would have to be something extraordinary. I know at least one editor I know likes his fantasy big and fat and around 180k. But he doesn't buy a lot at that size; it has to be astounding. (Read: Doesn't need much editing.) And regardless of the size, an editor will expect the author to to be able to pare it down even further before publication. To make this all a little easier, I broke it down even further below:
---> hard sf = 90k to 110k
---> space opera = 90k to 120k
---> epic/high/traditional/historical fantasy = 90k to 120k
---> contemporary fantasy = 90k to 100k
---> romantic SF = 85k to 100k
---> urban fantasy = 90k to 100k
---> new weird = 85k to 110k
---> slipstream = 80k to 100k
---> comic fantasy = 80k to 100k
---> everything else = 90k to 100k
28 September 2010
In The Cambridge Companion to Science Fiction famous F/SF academic/critic/writer Farah Mendlesohn writes: " ...sf is a discussion or a mode, and not a genre." and "...the reading of a science fiction story is always an active process of translation..." This is because "Cognitive estrangement is tied inextricably to the encoded nature of sf: to style, lexical invention and embedding. Cognitive estrangement is the sense that something in the fictive world is dissonant with the reader's experienced world."
And "...effectiveness in creating dissonance relies on the expectation that the reader will either understand what is written or will fill in the gap, creating meaning where none is provided. These two techniques are crucial to the sf project and they are cummulative. Science fiction has come to rely on the evolution of a vocabulary, of a structure and a set of shared ideas which are deeply embedded in the genre's psyche."
Wow. Do you agree? Disagree?
Send us your stories. Let's fill in the gap... let's create the genre's psyche together. ;)
26 September 2010
24 September 2010
...the tricky thing about imaginative fiction, both science fiction and fantasy, is the coherence of the imagination, because you are making a whole world out of words only. It's all made to hold together."
That's what fiction does, isn't it? All fiction? It makes a world and makes it seem real. Inner coherence (which can become aesthetic completeness) is the principle secret. It's achieved by imagination, selection, and accurate description--whether any counterpart to it exists in the real world or not really doesn't matter.
What does matter, perhaps, is whether we can find ourselves in the story as we
read it, can recognize the emotional and moral weight of human existence. Sf and fantasy are not as relentlessly human-centered as realistic fiction; they both show human beings in relation to the nonhuman, they include the human subject in a larger or stranger universe than the realistic novel does. But the story is still about us. We seem to be all we are ultimately interested in. And so, for writers and readers who see people as individuals rather than as types or groups, character becomes important even in genres where it is usually considered secondary.
What do you think matters?
23 September 2010
Science fiction begins at the moment where science ends, and then you can go on and build on what is known. Therefore, science fiction is getting more and more difficult to write because science develops so fast that the science-fiction writer has difficulty coping with it. This is one reason why there is less and less technological science fiction written because technology has overtaken it.
I think a lot of science fiction does exactly that, 'what if' and then you propose a social change, or a physiological change, or a physical change in the world and then pursue it, like a thought experiment, pursue the consequences.
Fantasy changes the world deliberately, allowing impossible things which science fiction at least pretends not to allow. ...Then you just follow out, you just follow the fictional enterprise like any novelist, it seems to me, and the more detailed and accurate you are, the better the book will be. And of course, the tricky thing about imaginative fiction, both science fiction and fantasy, is the coherence of the imagination, because you are making a whole world out of words only. It's all made to hold together.
What do you think? Do you agree? Disagree?
Stay tuned tomorrow for more Le Guin on fiction.
16 September 2010
13 September 2010
Two workshops and 2 panels.
Thousands of jokes.
12 hours of sleep in 3 nights.
Hours of fun and learning about the industry with this guy.
Even more with this one, Mario Acevedo, Master of the Tequila Sunrise...
So many old friends and new ones. Notables: Jeanne Stein, The Vickis, Twitter girls, Eric Sidle and The Assgrabbers, Tamera, Pam Nowak, Susan Mackay Smith, Carol Berg. Fellow Inklings Lesley, Dave, and Rebecca. The Janets, Susie for doing a bang-up job on the Suite, Marne (thanks for the socks!) Shannon Baker, Bill Brock for sharing his wisdom on writing and marketing short fiction... I'm sure I'm forgetting about a million folks. It was fabulous to see you all.
Hilarious speech from Connie Willis. "Your mother in law is ALWAYS coming next week. Write anyway."
Awesome audiences during our workshops, even the one where Lesley and I were pulled in at the last minute and winged it on a few hours of sleep. ("Don't ask me any big questions. Just little, direct ones!" My train of thought was shot by then.)
Those who thanked me after our sessions, complimented Electric Spec, asked interesting questions, hit me up for a chat, or just said hi. The people in our industry makes all the hardship so worth it!
Thanks to both Terri Bischoff and Denise Dietz for approaching this small-time editor and chatting briefly, even for all the smiles and good wishes in the elevator. The camaraderie among writers and editors and agents was amazing. Everyone raved about how friendly and approachable the industry pros were.
Thanks, too, to the folks who Focus on Short Fiction on Sunday morning. For those of you who were there (and those who weren't) Editor Betsy reminded us about her First Page Contest here on the blog. Please send the first page of your story to our submissions email: firstname.lastname@example.org with "First Page Game" in the subject line and Betsy (and others?) will critique your anonymous first page. For my promised market info, keep reading.
Also on Sunday Betsy and I were pulled in to help on another panel with authors Mario Acevedo and Jeanne Stein, 'The Long and Short of it--Does Size Really Matter?' We were talking about fiction, of course, and I'm not sure we answered the question--What do you think? Is long fiction better or short? :) I mentioned some market info and promised to put it on the blog so here it is:
Regarding Short Fiction Markets; the web has a lot of (too many?) resources.
- www.marketlist.com/writers_markets/ The Market List Writer's Market Guide, variety of markets.
- www.duotrope.com Searchable database for Poetry and Fiction Action/Adv, Erotica, Fantasy, General, Horror, Mystery/Crime, Romance, Science Fiction, Suspense/Thriller, Western
- www.fictionfactor.com/markets.html Writer's Market Listings from The Online Magazine for Fiction Writers
- www.writerswrite.com/fiction/markets.htm Database for Fantasy, Historical, Horror, Juvenile, Mystery, Romance, Science Fiction, Western, and Young Adult markets.
- www.shortmystery.net/markets.html Short Mystery Fiction Markets
- www.ralan.com Speculative Fiction Markets by Ralan's SpecFic & Humor Webstravaganza
- www.specficworld.com Resources including a speculative fiction market database.
- www.cs.cmu.edu/~mslee/mag.html Speculative Fiction Markets
- www.storypilot.com Science Fiction, Fantasy, Dark Fantasy, and Horror searchable database
- www.quintamid.com/q/mdb/list Market Listings for SF/F/H
- horror.fictionfactor.com/fiction.html Horror Short Story Markets
- cindimyersmarketnews.wordpress.com Christian Short Fiction Markets by Cindi Myers
- www.suite101.com Flash fiction markets
- mockingbird.creighton.edu Literary magazines
- www.newpages.com An internet portal to the alternative press, lots of writers resources including calls for submissions
- webdelsol.com/index-new-magazines2.htm Top 50 Literary magazine and Metazines
08 September 2010
So, anyway, what are we up to at the conference? Well, I'll tell you...
- Friday afternoon we are all participating in a Short Story Intensive where pre-registered participants receive feedback from editors and other attendees on their 4000-word short stories. (three hours).
- Friday evening we have Short Story & a Beer a casual workshop held in the lounge where we can do a short reading of published short story, discuss how it works—and maybe how it doesn't—and let the conversation—and drinks—flow from there. And, yes, I do believe this was Editor Betsy's idea.
- Sunday morning we have Focus on Short Fiction We'll focus on crafting short stories, why some stories make the cut and why some don't, short fiction markets, the growing electronic fiction market, and how to build a career by writing short stories. (one hour)
We hope to see you there! If you see us, please feel free to come up and say hi.
07 September 2010
And the winners are...
- Best Novel: TIE: The City & The City, China Miéville (Del Rey; Macmillan UK); The Windup Girl, Paolo Bacigalupi (Night Shade)
- Best Novella: “Palimpsest”, Charles Stross (Wireless; Ace, Orbit)
- Best Novelette: “The Island”, Peter Watts (The New Space Opera 2; Eos)
- Best Short Story: “Bridesicle”, Will McIntosh (Asimov’s 1/09)
Congratulations to all the nominees and winners!
Read more about it at: www.thehugoawards.org.
Was anyone there? I'd love to read some comments about it...
06 September 2010
01 September 2010
I do want to take this opportunity to thank authors for contributing. Thank you for sending us your stories. I also want to thank our behind-the-scenes tech people. Thank you for being behind-the-scenes tech people! Thanks, too, to my fellow editors. You rock!