Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Changes at ATON

Last week, Christopher Grant announced some interesting changes at A Twist of Noir.

Starting at ATON 601 and up until 700, every story's word count will correlate with its number. (So 601 will be 601 words, etc.) After that the maximum word count will (probably) be 3500 instead of 5000. He also plans to add interviews with writers.

Reducing the word count is something I definitely support. Reading on the computer is a bit hard on the old eyes and, I think, shorter tends to be better. You can read a couple of shorter ones on your lunch break, or while you're waiting for your plane to take off, or while your plan for world domination is being hatched. Plus it forces us long-winded writers to revise and revise again, leaving in only what is absolutely crucial.

It seems like most sites have gone in this direction--there aren't too many places out there publishing longer short stories. Off the top of my head, places with shorter limits include: Gloom Cupboard and Short, Fast and Deadly, which do all microfiction; Thrillers, Killers n Chillers and Pulp Metal are 2500 words; Flash Fiction Offensive and Powder Burn Flash are 1000 words; Crimefactory is "partial" to stories at around 3000 words; Yellow Mama is 3,500, and Beat to a Pulp has is 4000 There are other sites regularly publishing longer works (Mysterical-E, Plots with Guns and Pulp Empire come to mind), but it seems to me that the direction is toward flash and short shorts.

So what do y'all think about this? Are tight word limits better? Do they stifle creativity or foster it?


  1. I check my stats weekly and shorter stories are more successful hands down. Probably 2k or less would be even more preferable.

    (But big names like Dave Zeltserman and Robert J. Randisi did just as well.)

  2. Hmmm. I think you're right, as far as online fare goes; the more digestible, the more better. But as far as the writing end of things, I don't often find myself attracted to writing anything that'll come to fewer than, say 3,000 words.

  3. generally i'm in favour of shorter pieces. my eye-sight isn't what it once was and it is a strain. for longer work, cutting and pasting into word and changing the background colour makes the read more gentle. writers still have outlets for longer pieces and as long as there's a little balance all's well with the world.

  4. I agree, Nigel. I'm glad there are still outlets for those writing longer works. I think it's no coincidence (as David notes) that top writers like David Zeltersman and Robert J. Randisi are the ones placing longer stories.

    Personally I've been trying to write more flash lately. It's a good exercise for me--if I have an idea that's just not all that great, I can't dress it up with fancy writing or weird characters or some other such trickery.

  5. There's a need for venues which publishes longer fiction though. Needle does it, CF does it (although if it's longer than 10,000 words we serialized it) PWG does it. From an editorial stand point we like shorter stories because we receive so many that it allows us to read faster and get back to would be contributors in a timely manner. If we're reading too many 15,000 word epics, we'd never get anything done