Writing styles

Hi all

After years of telling myself I would, I’ve finally started writing and I’ve come to realize that I have developed 2 writing styles - short and sweet, or longer with prose (but not War and Peace long).

Before I go down either one of those paths, I thought I’d ask here - as a reader, which do you prefer? And yes, I’m fully aware that I can write my stories any way I want.


I wouldn’t worry about what we as readers want in length; it really is about how the story comes out that becomes a major factor in length. I can say that I have a length in mind when I write; I generally try to keep it under 5000 words (4500 is usually where I end up), because I think that’s a good amount (6 or 7 pages when printed). If I had a story that went 10,000 word I would write that, but I tend toward 5000. It’s really the work that dictates length first, so go with that above all.

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I’d argue that it should be exactly how long you need to tell the story you want to tell. Stories should be long enough to be understandable and coherent and full of interesting plots and characters, but not so long that it feels like you’re padding an essay to reach a word count.

(I have a particular hate for stories that fail to establish any motivation or reasoning for the characters. Disconnected scenes of hot stuff happening can be fun, but that’s not why I come to this site.)

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I tend to prefer longer ones that take their time exploring the characters and altering their behaviour (or whatever it is that the story intends to do) over time. As others have said, though, sometimes the story you’re writing will “want” a certain style, so always consider that as well. Some of my own stories are over 100k words long, while others would not have lent themselves to that, and are only 4-5k long.

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You’ll probably find readers prefer slightly longer stories because they’re getting more but whatever you do don’t pad the story simply for the sake of making it longer. I wouldn’t go more than 5000 words to be honest. If you have a story that’s larger than that consider making it a multi-series story if you can find a logical break in it.

However I’ve deliberately written stories just over 1000 words to challenge myself to get a story told fully and with enough detail to make it interesting (I hope). It’s a good discipline because it means you have to decide carefully every sentence as to whether it’s worthwhile.

Enjoy yourself. If you do that will come across in your writing and that will make the story more appealing.

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Short and sweet for me, every time.

I have never read a story that is too short, but I have read a billion stories that are too long and full of faff.

What would you consider “full of faff”? I want to know, genuinely.

When you read my latest, was it too much bla bla? I know people come here to fap, but I also want to tell a story, it’s hard to find the optimal middle-ground…

Of your latest not especially; It seemed pretty well paced.

I consider faff to be needlessly repeated material, long winded dialogue, too much information that doesn’t apply to the story, or which isn’t ‘for anything’ in the story.

It all slows the tale down and makes reading it feel like walking up hill in heavy snowfall just to move forward with the plot. Sometimes, it simply doesn’t matter what a minor character’s mother’s dog’s nephew did 5 years ago. You the author can know what he did, and knowing so might even help you keep the story feeling alive and natural, but you don’t need to cram ‘everything you know that happens’ onto the page, at least not formally and explicitly.

Interesting. For me, it’s the exact opposite. Anything under about 4k words is far too short to draw me in…I feel like I’m reading a pamphlet rather than a story. Even if they’re that long or longer, I want them to set the tone, tell me who the people are, what their normal life is like, what their new life is like, and so forth. I often balk at a story if it amounts to “Tab A was inserted into Slot B” sex with nothing else of note to it. (That said, I’ll acknowledge your point that we truly don’t need to know what the minor character’s mother’s dog’s nephew did 5 years ago…wait, why are we even tracking the familial relationships of dogs? :stuck_out_tongue: )

Anything under about 4k words is far too short to draw me in…I feel like I’m reading a pamphlet rather than a story.

Oh, challenge accepted, man. Have you read this?

3800 words.

4032 words according to the site… So it’s no longer a challenge for Robin!


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Oddly enough, I have read that one, although I don’t remember why. I’m sorry to say that transformation stories (or whatever you want to call a story about a vegetable) are foreign to me, to the point of being pretty much incomprehensible. I don’t understand what people get out of them. Did you post it to the Discord asking for opinions or something? Maybe that’s why I read it.

Anyway, to the larger point, that certainly did tell a story…there’s an art to crafting small stories, and you certainly have it. It’s never gonna be my thing, though.

Ehh… I copy pasted the story from the words “Part I” to “so is dying” into a Google Doc: 3877 words.

I think your word counter might be accidentally counting all the titles and tags and basically everything on the page, rather then just the story.

Well fair enough on the ‘whatever floats your boat’ side of things, if it’s off theme for you, it’s off theme (and that story is probably off theme for most people, lol).
I’m more happy about my work, by your appraisal, “certainly telling a story”, because this for me is the important bit about writing of any length. I, of course despise long windiness in writing, but that doesn’t stop me reading massive long novels once the story telling is good enough to be immersive.

What gets my goat is, a “9000 word story”, that’s not a 9000 word story. It’s a 6,121 word story in which the hero goes into a room and sees a thing that worries him. Actually no, it’s probably fine…but wait no, what about that thing he saw before? If he thinks about that thing he saw before and now this thing, then that might be worrying… but is he just being paranoid? no, it couldn’t be, he’s being silly, still, isn’t it better to be safe then sorry? hmm… but he’s already here now. It would be really chicken of him to turn back and waste everyone’s time, maybe he should dial ‘nine, one’ and then hold his finger above the last one… nah… things like this don’t happen in real life, he’s sure it’s just his imagination… but how can he be sure? maybe he’s…oh my GOD! JUST SAY “HE’S UNCERTAIN” AND GET ON WITH IT!!!

Where as short things can have a beauty that lingers. Like striking a bell. The strike only lasts a moment, but the resonance rings out.
Fables tend to be quite short, a minutes’s read, but can stick with you your whole life.
Screen plays for single act stage dramas, even certain commercials on TV.

What makes a story is definitely the narrative, and word count is irrelevant to this and serves as little other then as a rough guide to how long it’ll take to read it in real world time.

Now my challenge: Find Robin’s interests and write a 3,993 word story that he will like!
(and finish it with “and then they all had sex”)

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No, it’s not. Come on, I’m not THAT incompetent! :angry:

Again, see the GSS internal editor. It counts the same. And it has NOT been coded by myself.

I guess the definition what qualifies as a “word” might be varying.

maybe it separates things like ‘couldn’t’ as two words? but could there be that many?

Well, just head for the GSS internal editor and type words yourself. The number at the bottom is updated in real time as you type or change anything. That way you’ll see what’s counted as a word.

I’m pretty sure that I’m is counted as two words, by the way - as it should!

I’m pretty sure that I’m is counted as two words, by the way - as it should!

Blasphamy!! contractions are one word.
I knew I shouldn’t’ve trusted a foreigner to install a word counter to count words in Her Majesty The Queen of England’s, British, English language.


It’s not impossible to write a story that’s less than 4000 words and have me like it—I’ve read stories that had 2500 words or so and liked them for what they were—but they don’t leave me with the same sense of enjoyment and immersion that a longer story does.

That’s kind of the theme for the next couple of chapters of Web of Trust, actually. I could’ve just said “everything went to hell with Peter’s subjects while Peter was in prison”, and probably wrapped it up in a couple of paragraphs, if I’d really tried hard. But I want to give the readers a sense of how things went to hell and what it was like for them, because for me, it makes the story much more immersive (although it doesn’t have as much obvious hypnosis and sex, which I expect some readers will balk at).

That all being said, there’s such a thing as overdoing the immersion. Robert Jordan got on even my nerves for his “immersion”…I really don’t need a description of every pleat in a dress or every doily on a table for characters to exchanges a few minutes of dialogue. :face_with_monocle:

…says the German guy, in whose language “Donaudampfschifffahrtselektrizitätenhauptbetriebswerkbauunterbeamtengesellschaft” is a single word! :stuck_out_tongue: