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Thursday, October 29, 2015

Would You Rather Write Short Or Long?

Today I'm delighted to welcome award-winning author and filmmaker Stephen Zimmer to my blog, as his wonderfully seasonal Hellscapes II tours the internet. Steven is the author of the Fires of Eden series, Rising Dawn Saga, and Heart of the Lion which I read and thoroughly enjoyed earlier this year (click for my review), but he's also master of Hellscapes short fiction too. So, if you've ever wanted to try your hand at writing to a different length, this post from him must surely be a  must-read. And if not, read and enjoy it anyway - learn how a writer directs and is directed by his career.

Plus, there's a great giveaway attached to this tour, so don't miss out on the details, down below!

Stephen Zimmer's Hellscapes, Volume II Virtual Tour

Writing Long, Short, and In-Between
By Stephen Zimmer

 Hellscapes, Volume II represents my eleventh book release.  It is a collection of short stories in the horror genre, my third collection released overall.  As with any release, it represents another step forward on the writing path, especially in the area of writing short fiction.

At his stage in my career, with the release of Heart of a Lion at the beginning of the year, I have titles out that represent the very long (such as my Fires in Eden Series or Rising Dawn Saga, which are around 600 pages or greater in print), the medium (Heart of a Lion, around 250 pages) and the short (the aforementioned short-story collections).  I enjoy writing stories in each of these categories, and am drawn to continue creating in all three spheres. 

I find that each of them offers a different challenge to me as a writer.  It must first be said that no matter what the length of story, the core engine of having good, compelling characters and interesting plots applies across the board.  It doesn’t matter whether it is a short story, a novella, or an eight hundred page epic tome, you have to have characters that connect with the readers and have them in a plot that a reader finds interesting.

That being said, the three spheres offer some fun benefits of their own.

The short story challenges the writer to be very efficient and grab the reader early.  With a short story, you do not have long to connect a reader to a character, and the challenge lies in doing that as quickly as possible.  The skills developed in doing this can definitely be applied to the longer formats, but in a short story it becomes the make or break essence of whether the reader will be satisfied with the reading experience.  In a similar way, you have to get the plot unfolding in an efficient manner as well.   Get to the point, quickly, in a manner of speaking.

The longer formats, such as epic fantasy, offer a lot in the area of plot development, ensemble casts, and planting seeds.   A reader of a larger scale story is going to be a little more patient and allow you, as a writer, to set things in motion and plant seeds for later payoffs in the book or series.   Of course, this adds more intricacy and complexity to the overall work, and as a writer you have to keep a close eye on everything you are putting in place so that the story stays tight and does not become unwieldy.  But it is great fun to put a seemingly unrelated element in a book one that turns out to have a significant impact when it blooms in the third or fourth book of a series.   In these kinds of areas the longer format offers a lot of room artistically and in the depth of the story you can tell.

The longer format also gives you the ability to have a well-developed ensemble cast of principle characters.  The simple length of the story and scope of it gives room for fleshing out multiple principle characters in a way that is not possible in shorter formats, simply because you don’t have the room to develop many characters thoroughly in those kinds of stories. 

In the writing and release of Heart of a Lion, I came to experience the mid-range.  It proved to be a happy medium between short fiction and longer format fiction in terms of the plot complexity and ability to develop secondary characters.  At the same time, I found myself focusing on Rayden Valkyrie at the forefront and not developing an ensemble, so in the end I had a nice group of secondary characters established and one thoroughly developed main character.  This represented a bit of a balance between the short stories I have done and the ensemble-cast longer formats I have written. 

Each of the three offers something different and a challenge of its own and that’s why I will continue to enjoy honing my craft in all three spheres.   Creating a character that instantly grabs a reader’s attention and having a plot that unfolds quickly in a short story is very satisfying,  just as it is satisfying to see a reader have that “aha!” moment in the third volume of a series when something happens out of a seed that you planted quietly in the first book.   Heart of a Lion brought in a bit of the best of both worlds for me, in giving me room for some seed planting and depth, but also demanding a good level of efficiency in the areas of character development, plot and focus.

I encourage writers of any of these formats to try their hands at one of the others, or all of them.  I think they’ll discover what I have, that each offers its own benefits and skill sets!

Thank you Stephen. I'd never really thought about the difference between long and medium-length writing. I suspect I've been growing from short to medium over time, but epics have eluded me. My fingers are itching though after reading this - you're encouraging me to try (but can you tell me how to find the time?).

So, dear readers, here is more information about the book and author... and don't miss the giveaway!

Book Synopsis for Hellscapes, Volume II: Return to the nightmarish, shadowy realms of Hell in the latest installment of the Hellscapes series by Stephen Zimmer. Six brand new, macabre tales of the infernal await you … but be that you only visit these realms, you do not want to share the fates of the inhabitants you will encounter!

Included in the pages of Hellscapes, Volume II:

In “The Cavern”, a man finds his way into a nightmare, subterranean world that leads to an even greater, and more devastating, revelation.

A police officer takes pleasure in violently executing his duties and it appears to be open season in “The Riot” when he is part of an operation sent to crack down on a gathering of people protesting an economic summit nearby. But this is an operation that is going to take a very different kind of turn, one that opens his eyes to a new reality.

A woman finds herself stranded on a high, rocky ledge, along with many other men and women, surrounded by a frothing sea in “Above as Below”. Shadows glide beneath the surface and soon she will discover what lurks within the depths.

“Spots Do Not Change” tells the story of a man who has never had any qualms lying, cheating, or deceiving the women in his life. A reckoning day looms as he comes to understand that his actions have harmed the lives of many others, actions that in the realms of Hell take on forms of their own.
Having spun webs of intrigue and personal destruction at the heights of national politics throughout his life, a man finds webs of another sort to present grave danger when he finds himself lost within a strange wilderness in “Weaving Webs”.

Many are drawn to “The Club” in the heart of the decaying, shadow-filled city of Malizia, hoping for some entertainment and release, or even safety from the monstrous dangers lurking in the darkness. One man struggling against amnesia finds his way to the seemingly popular establishment and its confines give him momentary hope; until he discovers the nature of this night club and those who run it.

Where to find Hellscapes, Volume II
Barnes and Noble

StephenZimmerAuthorPhotoAbout the author: Stephen Zimmer is an award-winning author and filmmaker based in Lexington Kentucky. His work includes the cross-genre Rising Dawn Saga, the epic fantasy Fires in Eden series, the sword and sorcery Dark Sun Sawn Trilogy, featuring Rayden Valkyrie, the Harvey and Solomon Steampunk tales and the Hellscapes and Chronicles of Ave short story collections.

Where to find the author:
Twitter: @sgzimmer
Instagram: @stephenzimmer7

Where to find the tour:
10/26 Anasazi Dreams Review
10/26 Beauty in Ruins Guest Post
10/26 Shells Interviews Guest Post
10/26 Sinister Scribblings Guest Post
10/26 Kentucky Geek Girl Author Interview
10/27 Pulp Reports Review
10/28 Creatives Help Board. How may I direct your call? Guest Post
10/29 Bee's Knees Reviews Review
10/29 Sheila's Blog Guest Post
10/30 L. Andrew Cooper's Horrific Scribblings Review
10/31 SwillBlog Review/Interview
11/1 I Smell Sheep Review
11/1 Sapphyria's Book Reviews Top-Tens List
11/1 Armand Rosamilia, Horror Author Guest Post

And how to enter the giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

1 comment:

sgzimmer said...

thank you very much for hosting me, it was a lot of fun to think about the differences between the three categories and what they have offered me as a writer. :)