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Long vs short - last time, I swear

March 30, 2009
Posted at 10:38 am

Well, the two versions of the latest story are both up. I know your initial reaction is going to be that I'm beating this short-versus-long-story thing to death, but I really want you to understand that there's a real difference between the two, and that the difference is way more than just the number of words in the book.

Why I wrote a long and short version of the same story is explained in the forewords of each story, but I'll say it again here, for those of you who haven't read them yet.

I took the idea and intentionally envisioned writing it as a stroke story (short story).

It didn't work. The thing ended up being seven chapters long, and that's too long to call a stroke story. But I don't throw anything away, especially something seven chapters long. I gave it the title Packing Clarissa's Genes. The title is a play on the plot idea.

Then I went back and started all over, intentionally writing it shorter. That one ended up two chapters long. I named it Clarissa's Genes Get Packed.

Why make so much fuss about this?

Well, it's like this. A whole lot of you told me what you think about long stories, short stories, stroke stories, well-plotted stories and all kinds of other things that were very educational. Writing stories is a little like trying to pick out a birthday present for somebody. The better you know them, the more likely it is that the present will be tuned to them. And a lot of you have let me get to know you.

So it just seemed fair that you should get a glimpse of how this stuff works when an author is trying to be intentional about something. If you read the short story first, and then the long one, you'll get some idea of just why a story is longer. You'll see all kinds of additional details about all kinds of things. And, if you do it the other way around, reading the long one first (which is what I kind of forced you to do by posting the long one first) you'll have a pretty good idea of what's missing from the short one.

All this is for two purposes. First, it lets you see the real differences between the types of writing. Second, and maybe more importantly, it may let you, the reader, get better acquainted with yourself. Now you can actually find out which kind you like better. Deciding which one was better suited to your personality could be illuminating. Of course if all you're looking for is something to read while you whack off, there isn't really a lot to illuminate. Your needs are pretty clear and your tastes in exercise aids are pretty well established.

So, in the final analysis, just remember this as you're reading: The long story is how it just came out of my mind, naturally. It's more of an indicator of who I am and how I think, when I think about this kind of stuff. The short one is "engineered" to fit specific parameters. Authors have to do that all the time. I sold a story to a publisher who was looking for things to put in a paperback anthology of erotic fairy tales. There was a limit on the number of words. That was a lot harder to write than I thought it would be, because I couldn't just "let it flow."

In case you're wondering, I'll be posting that fairy tale in the near future, since the story rights the publisher bought will allow it in another month or so. If you'd like to have a printed copy, it's available on under the title Fairy Tales Can Come True, by Emerging Edge Publications. Since I sold the story rights completely, this isn't a commercial, because I don't get a cut of sales. It's just for your information. And, in the interests of truth in (non)advertising, some of the stories in that book are really good, and at least a couple are pure junk. Um ... mine is one of the good ones, by the way.

Most of you advised me to just write whatever I wanted to write. I appreciate that. It's easier, for one thing, but it's also less stressful than trying to manufacture something for a specific purpose. Of course sometimes "just writing" doesn't always work out. One of my recent offerings, called Scamming The Wives was something that I tried to write it as a spoof. When I was writing it I thought it was a satirical take on the old "can I bet my wife?" plot. It was also supposed to be a stroke story. I didn't code it as humor. Maybe I should have. But the reaction made it very clear that what I intended did not come through to more than a dozen or two readers. It was the lowest scoring story I ever wrote. I'm not complaining about that. In fact the score was valuable to me because it told me something about what happens when I try to force something. It just doesn't work well.

So I'm taking the advice of the majority. I'm just going to write whatever my muse whispers in my ear, and leave it at that. If it's short, it's short. If it's not, it's not. I'm not going to try to pick out birthday presents here. There are hundreds of authors writing stroke stories, so there's plenty to choose from out there.

Thanks for all your comments. As you can see, they really do make a difference.

And, of course, thanks for reading.