Thursday, August 2, 2012

A Question

Can a believable thriller be written in short story form?  I've been working on a short story for about a year now.  It's grown from a flash to nearly five thousand words.  I wanted the story to be fast paced and take place over a twenty four hour period.  But the editor I submitted it to said everything happened too fast.

I've found places where I can make changes by stretching out the timeline and filling in more back story.  But, this will create a much longer story than I intended, and will push it into the region of a novelette which, of course, raises the problem of finding a market for such a story.

Anyone else out there have this problem when attempting to write a thriller?  I would think that the breakneck speed of a thriller would work well in short form but it doesn't seem to be the case, at least with my story.


Brian Lindenmuth said...

Send it to me and I'll give you some feedback.

The market part is easy. Flesh it out to the novelette length and then send it to me again and we'll get it out there.

Fred Zackel said...

Damn, Brian, you said what I was going to say!

Charles Gramlich said...

I'd try another editor. I think thrillers can work well at short lengths, although novella length is truly just about the best length for everything in my opinion.

sandra seamans said...

Thanks for the offers, Brain and Fred!

I think I'm just a little nervous about the longer length, Charles. It's never been my strong suit, I tend to let the story get too convoluted, then get frustrated with all the loose ends. One of the reason I stay away from novel writing :)

Fred Zackel said...

Action scenes chew up word counts. Extended chase scenes, for instance. And then there's always "Oh, I've been kidnapped" followed by "I just escaped!" which is then followed by "They're after me!" Which segues into "Am I safe?" and then "Whew!" All of which leaves you ten thousand words further along .. without moving the plot along one inch or altering the denouement or adding more than a couple minor characters (who have been conveniently killed along the way.)

Stephen D. Rogers said...

Hey Sandra,

Your specific story should be as long as it need to be. That said, you can set out to write a thriller to any length, all the way down to flash.


Thomas Pluck said...

I think they can work.
A lot of readers liked my story "White People Problems" over at All Due Respect, and that was 5000 words.
I think the important thing is to remember it's a story, not a novel, and you may have to limit the number of scenes.
I just wrote another one for an upcoming anthology that is 2500 words. It begins with a bar fight, moves to a prison murder attempt, kidnapping a go-go dancer, a bareknuckle fight and a prison break.
It is imperative that characters define themselves via action and dialogue if you're going to keep the word count down.
Thrillers are a lot harder to write well than they seem (which you can say about romance, or any other genre, I assume).

sandra seamans said...

Maybe I just haven't killed off enough people to make it a thriller, Fred. Everything is happening to my heroine as she tried to save her son.

My head knows that, Stephen, but everytime I think it's done, readers keep telling me it needs to be longer. And I'm beginning to think they're right.

The strange thing about this story, Thomas, is that when I wrote it as a flash piece I was told (by my flash critique group) it needed to be a novel. I've been fighting that advice as the story continues to get longer. And I like the story too much to toss it in the drawer and let it stay there. I just keep dragging it out every few months and adding more. Maybe this time it will find it's right length.