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Do readers of historical fiction read short stories

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Post by annis » Thu August 4th, 2011, 7:24 am

Many of the old pulp-fiction stories were written for magazines like Argosy and Adventure, and we don't really have that sort of outlet now. Some websites like Howard A. Jones' Black Gate do carry on that tradition, though.
Last edited by annis on Thu August 4th, 2011, 7:26 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by EC2 » Thu August 4th, 2011, 11:24 am

As a reader, the only short stories I read tend to be collections of ghost stories - love those!

As a writer, I have occasionally published in magazines aimed at the general public. Indeed, I was highly amused to enter a short story contest with one about John Marshal and come absolutely nonwhere - first prize was cash of about £500. But then the story was picked up for a Woman's Weekly Fiction Special and they paid me £500 for it! The mag wanted an eclectic variety of stories for summer reading, so the criteria was a lot looser.
Les proz e les vassals
Souvent entre piez de chevals
Kar ja li coard n’I chasront

'The Brave and the valiant
Are always to be found between the hooves of horses
For never will cowards fall down there.'

Histoire de Guillaume le Mareschal


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Post by fljustice » Thu August 4th, 2011, 3:43 pm

[quote=""marklord""]Another way of doing it is to have a sequence of short stories based around a set of characters - the famous Fantasy short stories of Conan and Fritz Leiber's Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser stories are good examples of this. .[/quote]

Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser. Haven't heard of them in a loooong time. Loved those stories!
Faith L. Justice, Author Website

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Post by Leyland » Thu August 4th, 2011, 4:59 pm

I am a firm yes on reading short stories for two major reasons: when commuting/short traveling as mentioned before and when daily life has become intensely hectic for a few weeks or months which can make diving in and out of a lovely historically detailed 600 pager frustrating because one can easily forget what was read the prior week or even days.

The major attraction of a well crafted short story for a reader like me is to become instantly catapulted a handful of characters’ lives and into the short-lived action and emotions of a single event or cross-section of life. Specific details can support the historic context of the action if required, but I believe a writer can supply just enough to create a satisfactory visual for the reader’s imagination.

Millions of small dramas have fueled the world in the past 2,000 years or so and I would love to tell or read a few small stories within that timeline.
We are the music makers, And we are the dreamers of dreams ~ Arthur O'Shaughnessy, Ode

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Post by The Czar » Thu August 4th, 2011, 5:47 pm

I don't. I like three things in writing... complex plots, good character development, and good, detailed history. None of these things can be done well in short story format.

Give me a novel, the longer the better, so long as it is good.
Whoever wishes to foresee the future must consult the past; for human events ever resemble those of preceding times. This arises from the fact that they are produced by men who ever have been, and ever shall be, animated by the same passions, and thus they necessarily have the same results.
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Post by LoveHistory » Thu August 4th, 2011, 6:36 pm

I do read some short stories but I tend to go for the classics rather than newer ones, unless I already know I like the author. I think spin-off stories for HF novels could be a wonderful extra for an author's website.

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Post by annis » Sun August 7th, 2011, 12:22 am

Posted by LoveHstory
I think spin-off stories for HF novels could be a wonderful extra for an author's website.
Some authors do this and it works well - Christian Cameron is one who comes to mind. He has several short stories on his website which feature characters from both his Tyrant and Long War series.

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Post by ejays17 » Mon August 8th, 2011, 6:56 am

I enjoy reading short stories, not just for their usefullness when commuting or having an otherwise-busy life.

I've founf that they are a way of introducing me to new authors - I found both Peter Tremayne (Sister Fidelma) and Steven Saylor this way, to cite a specific HF example.

I'm also amazed at writer's abilities to tell a story in a small amout of words as well, word choice becomes such an important part of it (not that it isnt' in longer works of course :) ).

That being said, I also adore great big sagas too, which go much further in depth with the chracters and situations.
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Are short story readers different?

Post by shawnprobertson » Wed August 31st, 2011, 5:52 pm

Thanks for starting this thread Mark. For some reason science fiction short stories seem more popular than historical fiction short stories. I had almost given up on finding historical short stories until I stumbled onto Mike Ashley's Mammoth short story collections.

Historical fiction seems to come mainly in giant tomes. Could it be that readers of historical fiction are looking for a different experience than readers of science fiction? I personally read both, but maybe I am an exception (and I prefer shorter books, unless it is Lord of the Rings).

Fantasy also comes in massive books of multiple parts and I've heard fantasy readers echo many of the sentiments in this thread: they want character development, thoroughly imagined worlds, etc. As a short story reader, I enjoy having my thinking jolted by a sharp, bright change; to feel immediately and acutely some strong emotion, rather than immersing myself slowly and deeply into a dark pool. Sometimes I do that too, though.

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Post by LCW » Fri September 2nd, 2011, 12:09 am

Like others have said, short stories just don't give me the epic feel of a good novel. I like to be able to immerse myself in the world the author created for a few days. That's just not possible with a short story for me.
Books to the ceiling,
Books to the sky,
My pile of books is a mile high.
How I love them! How I need them!
I'll have a long beard by the time I read them. --Arnold Lobel

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