When I asked your views about M/M erotic romances a few weeks ago here is what one of you had to say about short stories:
“I’d like there to be a plethora of longer, meatier (stop it!) books, ……….I’ve pretty much given up shorts, shots, sips, naps, nibbles, etc. I am always disappointed”
This was a constant refrain from many of you because the “insta love” in these books was just not credible.
While I agree wholeheartedly with your criticisms because I, too, am often disappointed by short M/M stories, I remember reading Brokeback Mountain which was only 35 pages but had such an amazing impact on me and thousands, maybe millions of readers.
So, is it the skill of the writer or the format being used for M/M books, or a bit of both, that are the root causes of all of these unsatisfactory books? Many M/M publishers promote short stories because they can be written and published within weeks or a couple of months, and some readers love them because they are a quick read between dinner and going to bed. But even those who like short stories (5 – 10K) complain that they seem to be written in a hurry to make a quick buck. There is also the same dissatisfaction with novellas and that is inexcusable because authors have upto 30K in which to make their stories enjoyable and deliver an ending that’s believable, but many of them fail to take advantage of the extra word count and end up with a book that no one will read more than once. Invariably, when I read M/M short stories I end up wanting to throw them against the wall because most of the authors forget that regardless of the length, readers need a plot, two characters that will move us, some good prose and dialogue (maybe even funny dialogue) and an ending that we can believe. Does it make sense to you, authors, that two guys will meet and in the space of 24 or 48 hours they will fall in love instantly and move in together or head to the altar?
I must admit that recently I have come to dislike short M/M stories because many of them leave me asking the question – “Is this all there is?” It’s my opinion that the authors try to cram too much plot (let’s not even talk about the amount of sex) into the word count and when they run out of words they squeeze in a HEA on the last page because they know that without that all important HEA or HFN, the chances of readers recommending their books to friends who read romance are just about nil. So they race to the finish line with an improbable ending that no one believes, but does satisfy the criteria of being a romance.
Writing enjoyable short stories requires a great deal of skill, probably more than novels, and I don’t believe that many writers have acquired that skill to deliver shorts that grab your attention from the first page and when you read “The End” you want to beg the characters to stay because you love them and the plot so much. I remember reading a Sip by Clare London almost 2 years ago called Deep Cover (this was the first book I had read by this author) and I was so impressed at what she was able to do with 16 pages that she became an auto buy.
I believe that most authors make the mistake of thinking that writing short stories is just like writing a novel and approach them the same way; they do a poor job for the simple reason that these are completely different formats. In short stories readers do not have the luxury of getting to know the characters over an extended period of a several hours, bonding with them, and understanding a complicated plot which is usually too intricate for such a limited word count, and they end up dissatisfied with the product. That’s my view anyway. 🙂
I think that if these ‘shorts’ don’t improve in content, characterization, plot, dialogue and prose, and do not depend on just sex to sell them, more readers will become disenchanted and stop buying them.
So what do you think readers? Authors your views are very important because you are readers too – what do you think?