Friday, August 20, 2010

Interlude: The Big Announcement

So the other day I said I was going to have a big announcement sometime during the week.

Here it is.

After Story Number 599, I’m going to be shutting down A Twist Of Noir, such as it is.

Before you panic, please take a deep breath and read that last sentence again, especially the last four words.

Such as it is.

Currently, all of you know that the word count is 5,000 words or less.

After Story Number 599, that may change, depending on how everyone feels about the following.

When we get to Story Number 600, Jimmy Callaway, unless he refuses, will write that century mark story just as he’s written the previous five century mark stories.

After Story Number 600, I would like to issue a challenge to writers, chosen by yours truly, to write a story using as many words as the story number. So Story 601 would be 601 words long, Story 602 would be 602 words long and so on.

I’d ideally like to do this until Story Number 700 (which, again, would be written by Jimmy) and then the second shoe would drop.

In the last little while, I’ve been wanting to scale back on the word count on the site.

This would allow for a couple of thing to happen that I believe would be for the betterment of the site.

First, I would be able to read more stories in a timely manner and, second, because of this, I would be able to publish even more stories.

I’m thinking a pullback to 3,500 words per story.

For those of you that think that this might stop you from submitting to the site, don’t. There are other options, including splitting longer stories into parts, like the recent and excellent four-part Skin Saga by Richard Godwin.

And, from time to time, there will be exceptions to this rule. Special stories that might even exceed the 5,000 word mark that we currently sit at.

Finally, and after the challenge, there are varying features that I’d like to incorporate into the site. One of these features will be interviews with writers, allowing them to spill their guts about crime fiction and other subjects, if they so choose.

So there you have it.

As I said, the site’s not going anywhere anytime soon. Just changing and hopefully evolving.

What do you think of the challenge and would you like to take part in it?

What do you think of scaling back the word count?

What kind of features would you like to see?

I want to hear what everyone thinks. This means writers and readers.

30 comments:

Chad said...

Sounds good to me, Christopher.

Kevin Michaels said...

Sounds good - I think the word challenge will create some tight, sharp, focused flash pieces. And I think changing/modifying the site to allow author interviews, etc is a great addition.
KM

Anonymous said...

Hey Christopher,

Scaling back the word count to 3500is doable but trying to write a story with a specific number of words is too contesty. For me, when I get an idea, I just go with it and let it flow. I can always shorten a story but to target a word count wouldn't be worth my time.

I want to let it an idea blossom. I don't want to cut it to make an exact predetermined word count. Well, that's my two cents.

I thought your anouncement was you were going monthly or weekly with a story a week (BTAP) or eight or ten in a monthly edition(Thuglit).

That would cut your stress and provide real exposure for your writers.

David Price

Naomi Johnson said...

This is cyberspace, you gotta keep the site fresh. I think cutting the word count will be a good thing for a lot of us. A reminder of just how much each word counts in a short story, and that we must not spend those words frivolously.

R.S. Bohn said...

I'm a huge fan of flash fic, and I agree with Naomi that this will keep the site fresh.

I find that writing flash forces me to consider every word. Not an ounce of fat, so to speak. I think this fits the style of noir fiction well.

As for the challenge of writing to specific word counts, I love it! Give me a challenge. It's ON, baby!

Good luck. You know I'll be back. And thanks again.

Mike Wilkerson said...

I like the separation of longer stories into two or three parts. I find my own work getting longer and wonder how much time people are willing to spend reading off of a computer screen.

It's all good.

nigel p bird said...

from this side of the screen i'd say it wasn't broken so didn't need fixing, but you obviously need to do something different for a while. your site has a lot of kudos and people will adapt to whatever rules you set. i entered a comp looking for a story of 204 words - it was a challenge to edit and the story didn't suffer. you could well be on to something. main thing is you keep your own motivation going. if you need help in any way to do that, there's a whole list of folk at the right had side of ATON who would step up and do what was necessary (reading, reviewing, coming up with articles, being interviewed etc). you've created a gem, you're entitled to change its colour.

Jimmy Callaway said...

Obviously, I'm on board, and therefore echo the sentiment that this is a good change. But to address the very well expressed concerns of the good Mr. Price, let me say this: this sort of "limitation" can really be beneficial. To build on your blossoming metaphor, some expertly placed pruning can really allow the other parts of the story to grow and ripen on their own, unfettered. When I started restricting my word count (an this is only on some stories that I write, mind), it was a challenge to make the idea fit the form and not the other way 'round, and it was a challenge I relished. So I think you might find it would be worth your time if you tried it. I find it to be a lot of fun.

But that's just me. I also find Police Academy movies to be fun, so take that into account.

AJ Hayes said...

I think the new format is what most of the original founders of the Noir format, the pulp magazine writers, were part and party of. I think it's an exciting concept. Most of the "literary" writers I know (the published and publishing ones at least)tell me "short is the new long." (Besides, I've been looking to start cutting the fat out of a lot of my stuff. anyhow.) I'm in, Christopher.

Jason Duke said...

I always enjoy reading about other writers, so I'm all for the interviews. I can live with the 3,500 limit -- that's a good solid word count. I also like Police Academy, but the 600, 601, 602, etc. word counts aren't my thing mostly because I can't write flash for shit. I dig reading them, though.

Joyce said...

I've had a lot of computer problems and have been out of the loop for some time. I'm glad I saw this. It all sounds great, Christopher. Pulling back the word count to 3500 would work very well. And adding interviews and so on would be terrific too.

Paul D. Brazill said...

Okay, I'm back and I'm in. Just give me a number!

Changes? Why not?

Lee Hughes said...

Chris, run with the idea, it's been a while since I've submitted anything to you. My only suggestion is that with it being specific word counts that maybe they are allocated, a writer queries and you issue the count number. Just in case I submit one and I've written it to one word count and you say add an extra three words as the other slots are taken.

Alan Griffiths said...

All the changes sound good to me.

If these tweaks help to keep the site fresh (and I think it has always been fresh and original) and helps you Chris, to better manage your time and bolster your editorial enthusiasm, then it can only be a good thing. It gets my vote.

Richard Godwin said...

Great idea Christopher, changes are good especially when they ease the load on an editor such as yourself. I think the challenge is a good one.

jrlindermuth said...

All things in life change. It's your baby, Christopher, and you're free to do what you want.
That said, I'm a fan of Twist of Noir and I expect to continue contributing--though I'm not big on specific word counts. A story should be as long as it takes to tell.
I also think the idea of interviews and other features a worthy addition. Let's see what happens.

Charles Gramlich said...

That's a great idea to have the story lengths match the number.

Bill Raetz - Pulp Writer said...

Sounds great to me!

Keith Rawson said...

You know I'm down with it, Christopher.

Kieran Shea said...

Understandable. Shorter than flash metastasizing into something clocking in at ten pages. Seems reasonable. No idea how you manage to keep this up without losing your mind. Is this because you've used up all the crayons Nurse Ratched gave you and you crave variety? I understand "Chief" Bromden is available to shoot hoops too if that helps.

Michael Solender said...

Chris, I'm all for support more, better and tastier flash. The King is dead, long live the king.

Des Nnochiri said...

Sounds good, Christopher. Bring it on.

Jarrett said...

I like the changes. I think a 3,500 word count is good. Definitely in my range. I am working on a novel now that's begging to be a novella since I can't seem to get my word count up.

And I'd be in if you do start drafting people to fill any of the 601 to 699 slots. Sounds like a fun challenge.

Nigel: "... you've created a gem, you're entitled to change its colour." Great line. And a thought I agree with. This thing is yours. Do whatever you think is best with it.

Chris Rhatigan said...

The changes sound great. I'm all for the lower word count and bringing in author interviews.

And I like Lee's suggestion for authors to query about a word count--then you won't get gluts of stories on certain numbers and none for others.

Al Tucher said...

Could I reserve, say, story number 627?

This is an interesting challenge.

Anonymous said...

Hello, Christopher. Kelly here.
Short is fine with me.
The idea about matching the number of words to the number of the piece is excellent.
Changing it up helps keep it fresh.
I'd be interested.

Josh Converse said...

Put me in the 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it' column. I'm not too big on the whole on the button word count idea. I like the idea of a shorter maximum length. I just worry that the specific word count thing might cause pieces to be less than their very best. If I have a piece that hums at 648 words, and it's good enough for the site, but somebody else has 648, and 649, and 650, then I'm stuffing superfluous words in just to fit the word count. To say nothing of the amount of back and forth that Mr. Grant will have to go through in the selection process.

I wouldn't mind it on occasion, as a challenge, but as a prerequisite for selection and publication, I don't know. It might get old.

BTW, I've published exactly one piece on this site.

Michael Moreci said...

Sounds cool and fresh. I think it'll be an interesting challenge, and a way to push narrative into interesting places.

Eric Beetner said...

I think it's a good idea Christopher, if only for your sanity and ability to have the time to do your own writing.

Kathleen A. Ryan said...

I'm late to this party, Chris (I was on a cruise when you announced this) but I'd love to write one. If you still have room somewhere, count me in ~ the later the better to give me more time to work on it!
I love the idea of shorter word counts, by the way! Looking forward to the new features and to reading some terrific stories.
Thanks for the excellent job you do :-)