Epic vs Short: A Ramble

I love my epic novels.  Trilogies, series, even serialised short fiction featuring a recurring character.  I can imagine entire worlds with working politics, biology, animals, and thread them all together in an arcing storyline.  I can imagine very real, imperfect people running around in them with goals to achieve, working with other imperfect people towards an end that benefits them both or one of them secretly working against.  Wolf in sheep’s clothing has been done before, multiple universes/worlds/time dimensions have been done before.  Even though there are parallel stories out there in books that can be compared to my imaginings, I know I have enough original spin to make my epic novels my own.

That, my friends, is not my dilemma.

They’re so HUGE that writing a single scene feels like counting a grain of sand in a desert.  Thank goodness I enjoy writing, that I find the need to write, that I can find the time to.  But still, it’s so overwhelming and I have a completion issue anyway.

This is why I write short stories.  I can finish them.  I can write them in a day and polish them the next.  I can send them off and reap the benefits with publication.  Because they’re short fiction, so far I’ve only appeared in one book (collection of short stories), and several magazines.  Enough for me to know that I’m not fooling myself.  That I do have the ability to create a work that someone enjoys reading.  I have the ultimate benefit.

Commercial viability.

I’ve since discovered that publishers love serials and trilogies.  It makes sense.  If they stumble onto a winner, it’ll be a winner times three (or however many books make up the story).  My books – my epic fantastical journey that also lightly touches/explains our world – is at least two, if they’re not broken up into more.  I suppose if every scene in my head gets written and published, it’ll be a thick book (if it ever sees regular printing, jury is still out on that), and might be broken up into more.

I have another set of books too.  Four of them, a vampire series.  Modern, urban fantasy.

I simply can’t bring myself to write ‘normal’.

I entered a short story competition recently.  The Adrien Abbott Prize.  I had to write a short story under 750 words (I thought I would have a trouble with getting the length down, but ended up writing a 560-something word story).  Even that has a little piece of oddity in it.

Everyone says: write what you know.  But how freaking boring is that?  In a sense, I guess I do.  I grew up watching Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone show religiously.


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