I have several questions regarding a manuscript a friend and I completed recently. The premise of the book involves twelve self contained stories, in groups of two. Each group represents two differing perspectives of an event. Each group seems independent of each other until the last chapter, where all the stories are shown to be related through various characters, locales, etc. As the stories are so varied, there is no one main protagonist, and the "main" antagonist is not revealed to be such until the last chapter. All of this takes roughly 150 pages. My friend and I were hoping to attempt publication, but as for what genre (general fiction, ???? what to say here?) and definition (novel, novella, anthology), we are lost. Any insights y'all could give on these two issues would be greatly appreciated.
The information you've given is too vague to allow me to make a guess as to the genre of your book.
Is it syfy? Mystery? Suspense? Romance? Contemporary? Women's fiction?
Better yet, go to your nearest book store and check out their classifications of books. That might help you decide where you book should go.
Being the way it is, this project is rather difficult to pin down under one classification. If I had to lump all twelve stories together, I would have to say that they would be closest to suspense. However, calling it just "suspense" seems rather weak when looking at it as a whole.
Also, do you have any suggestions as to novel/novella/etc?
Novelist Jane Smiley suggests that length is an important quality of the novel. However, novels can vary tremendously in length; Smiley lists novels as typically being between 100,000 and 175,000 words, while National Novel Writing Month requires its novels to be at least 50,000 words. In part because of this wide variation, the boundary between a novella and a novel may be arbitrary and difficult to determine. But while the length of a novel is to a large extent up to its writer, lengths may also vary by sub-genre; many young adult novels start at a length of about 16,000 words, and a typical mystery novel might be in the 60,000 to 80,000 word range while a thriller could be over 100,000 words.
Classification & Word count
Novel - over 40,000 words
Novella - 17,500 to 40,000 words
Novelette - 7,500 to 17,500 words
Short story - under 7,500 words
Pulled from Wikipedia
How about calling it an 'anthology?'
Kid-- thank you for that information. It was most enlightening.
Lea-- My friend and I have considered that, but we have a few concerns. We are by no means aiming to produce the next blockbuster novel, but we are afraid that most publishers will have reservations about publishing an anthology of two unpublished writers' work. Comparing most other types of books (be it novel, etc.) to an anthology, would a publisher not be more likely to choose a something that seems more substantial (leaving writing abilities beside and looking solely from a potential profit standpoint) than a collection of stand alone stories that happen to have a common thread? Obviously we will classify it as what it appears to be (lying in a query to an agent seems like a rather bad plan), but we are worried that we are hurting our chances. Thanks for your help.
It seems the hook for your query is that they are not simply a dozen stand alone stories, they are in fact interconnected stories and each pair of stories dramatize different perspectives of the same event. I would think this would make your book stand out and get people curious - I know it made me curious.
Can you at least tie it all together through a common theme or some other element that runs through all the stories?
Thanks so much for that reply, Simon. I have placed our query below in hopes that it answers your question better than I could have. I apologize for redacting the personal information, but it pays to be careful... Hope it helps.
When the states west of the Mississippi River secede from the Union, pandemonium results, from subtle biological warfare to horrific experiments carried out on children. In “A Thousand Several Tales,” twelve individuals discover how quickly humanity is degraded and the true price of survival. The book has a word count of 29,244.
In the near future, an authoritarian branch of government officials splits off from the traditional government of the United States and forms a separate country west of the Mississippi River. Throughout the fractured country, chaos reigns. Terrifying epidemics ravage the populations while murderers freely stalk the south, scientists run disturbing, unethical experiments, and governments, hoping to hide past atrocities, use their employees in ways that would make an OSHA inspector cry (we can delete this if you like; I just really wanted to mention OSHA). Told in an episodic manner, the book showcases twelve individuals’ struggles against a bevy of obstacles and horrors and illustrates how interconnected humanity is.
*** placed third in the “Prose” category for the 2011 *** Writing Awards, a statewide writing contest in ***. *** won first place in the *** Literary Festival short fiction writing competition. The Literary Festival is a yearly event sponsored by the *** designed to celebrate written, spoken, and sung language.
My apologies about the note regarding OSHA. That was a note between my friend and I, and it was my poor proofreading that left it there.
Round the word count to 29K. That's pretty darn short and an awfully tough sell for a first book, IMHO. Sheesh, that's not even 2500 per story.
To tell you the truth, I don't think I could present the conditions of the world you describe in anything but a cursory fashion with that word count, particularly if the story is fractured into twelve short episodes from seemingly unrelated sources....and I'm probably the most minimal minimalist you could hope to find.
Character development is practically non-existent in a structure like that, and what little exists would be blasted from the reader's mind by the next story. But maybe today's TV generation would appreciate that sort of machine-gun writing. I wouldn't. I'm old school, lol.
I think your query plainly shows you have no story. Times are rotten, people struggle, and your purpose is to show that people are interconnected. You really think anyone's missing that obvious fact? No characters, no real story, no indication of any kind of conflict or resolution. I'm sorry Grace, but to me, this thing has NO SALE written all over it despite the awards, unless you can present it in a different way.
By the way, "bevy" typically applies to living things.
Last edited by John Oberon; 07-10-2012 at 12:45 PM.