WHAT THE HELL

Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like

Where are all the fictioneers?

More excellent poetry over at The Housewife this morning – “How to Drink Yourself Sober.” You can imagine …

But you know what I’d like to see coming in over the transom? More fiction. I’m a fiction writer, after all. I’m itching to curate on some cutting-edge tales.

Maybe the problem is that not a lot of people are writing what I have in mind. Yet I don’t really think that’s true because much of the flash fiction I see out and about is edgy and boundary-stretching. I remember the thrill I used to feel when a new collection of Donald Barthelme stories came out. I know there must be some absurdists out there, carrying his torch.

But maybe the problem is my length requirements – 1500 words or less. Most of what’s come in so far is more like 2500 to 3000 words. I’m willing to be a bit lenient at this stage of the game, though, so material hovering between 2000 and 2300 can still make the grade.

What I’m afraid of is that with online magazines, readers will scroll down, see a lengthy piece ahead, and promptly bail. One reading-time calculator I found says that it takes almost 17 minutes to read 3000 words. Well, not many folks-on-the-fly are willing to invest 17 minutes on a short story in a brand-new independent literary magazine they’ve never heard of. Are they. But half that’s a might-do. So 1500 words is an ideal target, to my mind.

The other issue, as I mentioned before, is that so much dark stuff is coming in that I’m starting to have ghastly nightmares from reading so much of it. I’d rather see absurd cleverness than shocking darkness. Maybe that’s just me, but hey – I’m the editor!

If you have some offbeat fiction you’re dying to place, and it’s less than 2300 words, send it on over: thedisappointedhousewife(at)gmail(dot)com.

9 comments on “Where are all the fictioneers?

  1. kingmidget
    March 7, 2018

    I do think length on on-line sites is an important factor. It bothers me that it is, but the reality is that I frequently check out of longer pieces for that various reason. I spend enough time in front of a screen, there are so many hours in the day, hard to see spending 15-20 minutes, or more, on longer pieces. It’s odd though that the time commitment wouldn’t be a problem if it is was in hard copy form.

    • kingmidget
      March 7, 2018

      Sigh … very, not various.

    • Kevin Brennan
      March 7, 2018

      That last point is so true, and a real paradox. A 3000 word short story in a printed journal is no problem for readers. Online you have to give them a “short, sharp shock.”

  2. Sha'Tara
    March 7, 2018

    Have to look in my back pockets; see if anything besides lint has gathered in there that might suit your wants, needs, desires, hopes and at the same thyme, produce succulent thrills.

  3. 1WriteWay
    March 7, 2018

    It’s good that you’re not too rigid on your guidelines, but I am surprised that you haven’t gotten much in the way of fiction. Maybe part of the difference is fiction writers might not have stories just waiting around for a venue. I mean, I have stories but they are too long. Either I edit them for The Disappointed Housewife or I find a mag that allows a longer length. I don’t think poets have that problem. But what do I know? I haven’t written anything but letters and comments in what feels like forever.

    • Kevin Brennan
      March 7, 2018

      True, people haven’t written stuff with The Housewife in mind … at least not yet! But yeah, I have to leave some wiggle room because, in my experience anyway, 3000 words is kind of the standard in print for short stories, don’t you think? And like Mark says, people have no problem reading 3000 words in print for some reason …

      • 1WriteWay
        March 8, 2018

        Sure, I’ll read a longer piece in print, but the circumstances are different. If I have time to read print, it’s likely to be a time when I’m not at work, when I have the leisure to read 3000 or more words. I have taken the time to read long pieces online if I can use my iPad or open it in Kindle. I don’t like to read long pieces on a desktop computer because it’s awkward for my posture as well as irritating for the eyes. So some of it may simply be circumstances, the physical comfort of curling up with a magazine or an iPad as opposed to sitting in an office chair. Maybe someday you offer TDH in PDF or some format that will easy to convert and read on a Kindle. Just a thought 😏

      • Sha'Tara
        March 8, 2018

        If I may make a suggestion. I do most of my reading digitally, prob. up to 99%, using all kinds of handy apps. (except kindle – I boycott Amazon with a furious passion!) If a longer piece comes down the email on my note book and I want to take the piece with me, I go and download it again on my tablet or phone and read it from there. I leave all my email notification up on my server for 24 hrs. That gives me plenty of time to re-download to another computer if I need to… just a suggestion.

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This entry was posted on March 7, 2018 by in Writing and tagged , , , .
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