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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Quickie 101


Today I want to expand on the topic Amber Skyzes brought up yesterday about “Quickies”.
“Quickie” is the term Ellora’s Cave uses for short form fiction that runs between 7-15 K or approximately 25-50 pages. A Quickie is a whole other art form away from a novel. The structure, the pacing and reader expectations must be adjusted accordingly. Think of a Quickie as a beautifully prepared hor d'oeuvre meant to deliver a burst of flavor-it's NOT a four-course meal. It’s an opportunity to sample a new genre or author at little cost or investment of time.
As the market for ebooks booms more new readers from the paperback world arrive everyday. Many bring their familiar reading standards and expectations with them. They expect big stories that need 400 pages to play out. There’s nothing wrong with that but readers do need to have realistic expectations. Few authors can deliver a big plot, character development and sensual scenes with a fully realized happy ending in only 7-15K. We can only give readers a taste, make hints and hopefully make a few vivid impressions.
I read a book review several days ago where the reviewer said she loved the Quickie and that it was beautifully written, but she gave it 3 out of 5 simply BECAUSE it was a Quickie! I thought it was very unfair and ignorant of the reviewer to diminish the author’s value. Short fiction should be judged as short fiction-it’s a separate format as different as television is from film.
I’ve also been saddened to receive low marks on a Quickie not because the reader didn't like it but because it was a “short read”. One woman said she loved “Adult Education” but gave it one star because it was “too short”. She did take the time to write me and apologize “for having to do that”. She has no idea how hard I worked to trim words and struggled to fit a full experience into only 15K. I actually came within 30 words of my limit and had to leave a little wiggle room for the final lines editor to do her work. There seems to be an idea out there that Quickie authors need to be punished for being lazy... Please folks this just isn’t the case. We‘re trying to entertain readers and introduce ourselves in a fast affordable manner.
I firmly believe there's a place for Quickies. They’re a great introduction to an author's writing style. Every e-author should have one. They are a quick thrill during a lunch break and they make great fodder for mixed author anthologies. Short fiction is the driving engine of the emerging ebook market and it’s an evolving art form. The human eye and mind process an ebook very differently from a print book. Quickies need to judged for what they are—quality short fiction. Think of them as gemstones or special treats where quality outweighs quantity.
XXOO Kat
PS Two Lips Reviews gave “Beautiful Stranger” 5 Kisses and I’m thrilled!
http://www.twolipsreviews.com/content/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=5395&Itemid=36

13 comments:

  1. I've never had a quickie! (Snork) This definitely sounds like a test of the writer's ability. It would seem to me that would have to be the spirit in which you write one, because obviously there can't be a lot of money in something that short. But I think they would be very interesting to try. Thanks for bringing this up!

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  2. Quickies are definitely an hor d'oeuvre and I do enjoy reading them between books as a way to introduce myself to new authors and also take a fresh breath of air between books that might be deeper in nature. I don't have a problem with what you've said but I do think that perhaps the reviewers didn't either understand how they are to review a quickie or were reluctant to go into details on the real reason they scored the quickie the way they did. Some review sites don't want negative comments made so they limit the reviewer to having to use the number scale to really comment on how the story impacted them. It's an imperfect system and can leave both reviewers and authors confused and frustrated.

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  3. Quickies don't pretend to be anything more than they are. I'm surprised more readers don't realize that before they purchase them. They are an appetizer, a teaser, a brief moment in time - and that can be, as you know, very tantalizing and stimulating - to various appetites!

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  4. I agree--I actually got one review that she liked how I got so much emotion into such a short story and I thought, "Wow! This one actually gets it!"

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  5. Amber you're entirely right - quickies are meant to be just that - quickies. As a new author and reviewer, I've been reading a lot of quickies. It also gives me the opportunity as a reviewer to read more and get my name/voice out there as a reviewer. And as a aspiring author I'm trying to learn the genre and am amazed at how you gals and guys can put such a quality story together in such a limited space. I think they are awesome all around!!

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  6. Kat, thanks for this post. You said everything I wanted to say yesterday, but was too frustrated to spit it out! LOL

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  7. Writing shorter stories has been a great learning experience for me. It forces me to focus on specific details, pick words extremely carefully, stay within a certain length.

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  8. A short story takes a lot of careful planning in order to produce a complete and believeable tale within the word constraint. Most authors who participate in this art form say that it is totally different in style and narrative from their other work. Descriptive passages of setting etc. are considered a luxury belonging to the novel. However the author must instil a 'sense' of place in the reader while concentrating on the 'blip' which is the kernel of the story. That's very difficult to achieve.

    Mark Twain once apologised to a friend saying "would like to have written a shorter letter but didn't have the time."

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  9. oops that comment was meant for Amber's post yesterday. But I agree with what you are saying Katalina. As a new reviewer I had to get used to the 'short' limitation of the quickie. I think they are an awesome way to get the know the voice of the author. Then when that author writes another book, whether quickie, short story or full lenght novel -- you've already gotten a new fan.

    I've been reading a lot of the new releases from Ellora's Cave and feel that it's the quality that matters not the size *snort* of the book.

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  10. Wow thank you ladies! The comments were especially good today and this is the sort of mixed/balanced participation I crave! Thank you.
    XXOO Kat

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  11. Quickies are what they are--Short and Quick. As a writer, it's very challenging to pen a story in such a short word limit. But it's fun too. Readers need to understand what they're going to get when they buy one. It's not going to have the depth of a full-length novel. But it's going to be fun. :)

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  12. Great post! Writing tight and still delivering a good story is such a challenge and one that tests a writers limits. I think that may be something that those who don't write, misunderstand.

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  13. You both posted great info about quickies and hopefully the message will make readers understand.
    Marianne/April

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