Entries in novellas (3)


So Long to the 700+ page Novel


I've got to say, I grew up on novels pushing over 700 pages, and in the past felt cheated if a book by a wordy author fell short of that mark. Take Terry Brooks for instance, author of Sword of Shannara. I've read the entire Shannara line including the Word & Void series, which had nothing to do directly with the Shannara name other than it showed how the world of Shannara eventually came to be. I remember reading through books like Sword and Elfstones and loving that it took me days, sometimes weeks to read them. And though I am sure many of his titles fell below 500 words, I was never so disappointed with page count until I read First King of Shannara, which was still nearly 500 pages. First King somehow felt short, much shorter than his 700+ page Sword epic which started the entire series. To me, it read like it barely made it past 200 pages. Years later, I understand why I felt this way.

Terry Brooks has a way of making long novels feel like short novels, allowing you to become lost in the wording and make you feel as if you're part of the Shannara world. So, I am sorry Terry for whining about First King seeming so short. Especially now that Daniel and I have started 711 Press.

Except for Terry Brooks and a select few others such as Cinda Williams Chima, I am now hooked on quick read books, or novellas if you wish to call them that. The 711 Press formula has been crafted over the past four years to unveil to our authors a very concise way to cut down novels that could take 500 pages to tell a story to as little as 1/5 the page count. "Why would someone ever do that?" you ask. "Why would an author cheat me out of 300-400 pages?" The better question is, "Why don't authors take time to craft their stories, editing and removing the fodder to turn each book into a quick, easily digestable tale of excitement that could be read in hours instead of days?"

After reading movie books by Jami Lynn Saunders, Roger Vallon, and Drusilla Winters, to name a few, I've completely changed my reading mindset. I welcome the short book and cannot fathom the thought of spending 19 hours reading a book from my favorite author when I could digest a book of equal peril and adventure in 1.9 hours. So, 711 it is for me. With that said, Terry, Cinda, I still love you guys and your books do read quicker than other long-winded authors. So, I will continue reading your books, but it won't hurt my feelings if you weed out a few hundred pages, get right to the action and allow me to read your novels in one night ;)


My Thoughts on John Grisham's The Litigators

So I'm reading John Grisham's The Litigators, and I have to say, while it's not his best work, it's among his funniest, thanks to quirky characters that come in the form of two Odd Couple ambulance chasers lawyers who seem to always be at each other's throats or their legal secretary's. Owing to 711 Press, however, and their unique approach to storytelling, I'm somewhat spoiled by quick, to-the-point fiction nowadays. Grisham's book tends to drag out details and load the narrative with extraneous info that need not take up precious story space. I'm finding that to be true of much of what I read though, from various authors in the industry.

The truth is, someone, long ago, came up with a set of publshing rules that dictated the "average" length of a novel, and when all the big houses came on board, well, authors had to toe the line in order to get published. Now you have books that have to fall above 75,000 or 85,000 words in order to be considered full length, despite the story the author intended to tell (and maybe that story was 150 pages long originally, before being stretched to 400+ pages). Whatever, all I'm saying is, it's starting to wear on me, and I'm finding myself more partial to 711 Press's more lean and direct storytelling methods. I seriously think they're redefining the storytelling form; repackaging it for the current, on-the-go generation, particularly the one beset by all these modern day distractions and competiting entertainment mediums.

Yeah, Grisham's book has my interest for the most part, but it is a long slog, I gotta say, and at the end of the day, my time is very precious. But to each his and her own.


Give Me Stories That Aren’t Bogged Down

I read a lot of feedback dished out in reviews for popular book series and sagas of the day; series and sagas written by big name authors, and put out by large, far-reaching publishers with deep pockets. What I tend to see time and again are complaints that are pretty much summed up in one reviewer’s title: “Good writing, but little forward momentum.” What this means is that, after spending ten years reading a series written by a big name author who takes years to produce one book, when said book comes out (which just happens to fall somewhere in the middle of a planned series), the reader fails to add checkmarks to their list of plot resolutions, character arcs, or basic movement in the overall storyline. Why? Because these big name authors are dragging out the story on purpose at the behest of greedy publishers. They essentially milk their saga for all its worth for the sake of making more boatloads of $$$.

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