Ignorance is.... bliss?

I recently received a review of Celebrity Space that kind of embodies what I've been saying for a long time is the biggest issue for short story writers: ignorance.

Here's the review:

"Ok I read it. It isn't much of a story, I'm not even sure what happened. Maybe as an outline for a story twice or even 3X as long it wound be good. i don't think you can write a good story this short"

It's a two star review.  It's neither the first two star review I've received nor the harshest.  The first part is just him saying he didn't care for it.  I'm fine with that.  What bothers me about this review is the last line.  It basically says it didn't matter what words I had written on the page.  The reviewer didn't care for the story because there weren't enough of them.

Maybe this guy is a reading connoisseur and has read hundreds of short stories to finally come to this opinion.  But I doubt it.  I think he would be shocked if someone gave him a list of movies he probably enjoys that are based off of short stories.

But the point of this post is really not to rail on this guy.  What I wanted to show is that if you are a short story author the biggest hurdle you're going to have to jump is ignorance.  Not just like or don't like.  The general public these days does not understand the purpose of a short story.

So while you further yourself as an author, make a point to educate your public as well.  Maybe tell them about short stories you've read and why you liked them.  Do blog posts on the differences between novels and short stories.  That way there is a higher likelihood of someone buying your short story and hating/loving the content, not just obsessing over the length.

Comments

  1. Kevis HendricksonApril 10, 2012 at 3:42 PM

    Your review sounds very similar to one I received in which the reader said: "A book of less than 300 pages is hardly worth picking up." I never knew there was such hate for short stories until recently. Interestingly, I read Celebrity Space a few months back and had the exact opposite reaction. I was astonished by just how much story you were able to tell in so few pages. Guess the moral of the story is not all readers are created equal. ;)

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  2. Aww... thanks =)

    300 pages?!? Did the reviewer specify if that was the large page size or the smaller page size? Because this makes a big difference. Are we talking Da Vinci Code with 300 well spaced out letters? Or a Penguin Classic reprint of Dracula with itty bitty little font?

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    Replies
    1. Kevis HendricksonApril 11, 2012 at 6:37 PM

      LOL! I get the impression this reader is all about diving into a long "Lord of the Rings" sized tome. ;) From what I gather, he thinks short stories are a flawed form of fiction that aren't worth the time to download, let alone read.

      I think your blog does a wonderful job of educating the public about the power of short stories. Short stories are definitely making a comeback. Like you, I'm hoping that over time, we'll see fewer reviews like the one you and I got.

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    2. I, for one, am of the school of thought that Lord of the Rings would be for the better if the verbiage was thinned.

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    3. Kevis HendricksonApril 12, 2012 at 1:49 AM

      Not much can be done about the size of LOTR unless you want to take a red pen to all the whimsical verse that happens every time ol' Frodo and the gang are walking through the woods. Since 1/3 of the book involves walking through the woods, that sure will be a lot of red ink :P!

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    4. I feel like the verse thing happens a lot in older novels because the author was secretly longing to publish poetry but was too chicken to flat out say they were a poet. Mysteries of Udolpho being another excellent example of this complex. Lots of repression back in those days.

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  3. That man needs to read "The Lottery" and "The Necklace" and "The Tell-Tale Heart" and "The Lightning-Rod Man." That is where my love of the short story began.

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