best-pillowsI got my first Asimov magazine and in it there is a novella and a couple novelettes.  Not knowing the difference between all these varieties I fired up the old searching fingers and consulted the great internet for some answers.

Dearest Google, what the hell is the difference between a novel, novella, novelette and short story?

Of course Wikipedia came back with a page that nailed the answer by using the definitions as set by the Nebula Awards, which are;

  • Novel = a work of 40,000 words or more.
  • Novella = between 17,500 and 40,000 words.
  • Novelette =  between 7,500 and 17,499 words.
  • Short Story = under 7,500 words.

So it’s strictly down to word count…or how arsed a writer can be with their idea…I jest!

Are there any other literary forms?  Surely a mammoth text of 200,000 words deserves its own category?

Just thought, Flash Fiction is another one. Accordingly, Wikipedia says there is no defined length but normally less than 1,000 words.

Thinking about it, I think 5 seperate forms is enough otherwise it’ll get stupid with every 1,000 words constituting a change of definition for your work.

“What do you think of the novel?”

“Well, first things first, technically it’s a ‘Flash Novella Postcard’.”

“Oh…is that good?”

“O’yes, it’s this year’s ‘Nanonovelette Vignette’.”


hal-robotI recently read a good short story in the July/August edition of Interzone Magazine called ‘Silence and Roses’ by Suzanne Palmer but it’s not online anywhere for you to read it.  So if you can’t buy that edition of the magazine then visit her website here just to say hello.

Instead, here’s a brilliant short story from the master of robots.  I first read it a couple of years ago and it blew my small, little mind to bits.  Don’t read the last bit…whatever you do, don’t read the end first.

Apparently it was his favourite short story.

Read it here – ‘The Last Question’ by Isaac Asimov.

September 15, 2009

be-gone-loserJust before I left for work I saw a London postmarked envelope that didn’t appear to be a bill, so I opened it.

Only my first rejection!  I’m so chuffed!

OK, I’m gutted that they didn’t say yes but you gotta take positives from it.

  1. The submission found its way to the correct person.
  2. I got an answer in less than a week!  (That could be construed as a bad thing, but I ain’t even going there).
  3. The submission was deemed worthy enough to actually respond to.
  4. Even though I guess 70% of the letter was part of a form letter, he did actually say ‘the premise was interesting‘ and that ‘you write very well‘.  I’ll take those comments at face value and deposit them in the old ego bank.
  5. I spotted an error in the letter, it’s missing the word ‘with‘ in the second sentence (if you’re reading this).  Spelling Nazis ftw!

I’m not going to put the letter up or say who it is as I haven’t asked permission, but it was a very nice rejection letter.  I’m sure this guy’s ex-girlfriends have been dumped very kindly, maybe over dinner whilst he tenderly held their hand and let a tear form in the candlelight.

Of course, after the 57th rejection letter I probably won’t be feeling so forgiving but my first time has been a pleasant one.

Onwards and upwards.  I’m going to have 5 submissions on the go at any one time, so that’s one crossed off the list, time to get another one sent out tomorrow.

September 10, 2009

With all this talk of Railroaded and writing, I haven’t actually put any of my writing on the blog (blog posts don’t count).  All talk and no writing makes Ben a…non-writing boy.

So here’s the first chapter of my novel, Railroaded.  It’s a little over 4,000 words.

The hand of a lady, aged by time and paled by death, stood up on its own severed wrist, hermetically sealed within the vacuum of a bell jar.  Cradled in the grip of an assistant, the outstretched hand rose above the watching audience as though attracting someone’s attention with a wave.

“£18,000!”  A bidder’s voice sternly announced from one of the phones situated to one side of the auction hall.

The lifeless hand was succeeding; it was holding everyone’s attention.

…read more »

September 7, 2009

railroaded-flyI’ve only gone and posted the bloody thing to some right old proper people!

Over the weekend I put together 5 packages and popped them in the post this afternoon so they are winging their way to 5 agents in London as I type…be safe my pretties, don’t be scared of the dark and when the nasty person starts laughing at you and chucks you in the bin, take solace in the fact you’ll be recycled and live again, hopefully finding your way into a successful writers printer this time.

(I don’t why I’m blogging to my letters, lol, what an idiot!  They can’t get the internet in a post office sack).

…read more »

mag-carOne part of writing Railroaded I really enjoyed was trying to come up with new technologies, or at least butchering emerging new technologies.

It’s set in a UK with  higher sea levels so global warming has really affected the country and they combat that by becoming carbon neutral, this means the whole transport infrastructure needs addressing.

Here’s a little taster of what I wrote…

Amy’s car, as all automobiles and trains, are ‘levitated’ via electro-magnetism to greatly reduce drag; the base of the car ‘floats’ upon a bed of opposing magnetic forces from the road, both powered by an electro-magnet plastic, PMP (Photovoltaic Magnetic Polymer), road that generates its own power from the Sun.  Once levitated the car is powered laterally by compressed air jets located around the car.

…read more »

murdoch-sombreroThere’s been much made about James Murdoch’s speech for the MacTaggart lecture at the Edinburgh TV festival which has led to a #welovethenhs style campaign on Twitter – #welovethebbc – and Robert Peston losing his rag so I can’t add much about James Murdoch blatantly trying to give Sky an easier ride into mindnumbing, advertising driven TV hell.

He consistently calls the BBC ‘state-sponsored’ which may partly be true in that they do receive government funds but only a small percentage of total revenue, the licence fee funds the majority of the BBC (about 75%).  That means; you, me and all the other licence fee payers fund it, not the government.  Saying it’s state-sponsored makes you think it’s a distance relative of North Korean TV.  It’s not directly linked to the government, The BBC Trust is the middle man between The BBC and the UK government and UK licence fee payers.

He also said a much greater deregulated media industry without The BBC is giving consumers what they want.  A few years back James Murdoch said;

…read more »

August 21, 2009

drafts-woman‘Railroaded’, my soon to be published and global bestseller, has so far taken 4 drafts to get to an acceptable level to send out to agents.

I’m not saying they ain’t going to LOL all the way to another 4 course lunch at The Ivy, I’m just saying they’d be laughing even harder had it been the 3rd or the 2nd draft.  The 1st was beyond ROFLMAO.

So what happened in the 4 drafts of Railroaded?

The 1st draft officially started around October 2007.  I did a Max Barry writing course at Chuck Palahniuk’s website and one of the first exercises was to write the first 200 words or so to 4 different stories.  I picked Railroaded as one of these starters.

But let’s go back. …read more »

August 19, 2009

bullshit-writingThis morning I made the final finishing touches to the 4th draft of Railroaded, saved it, backed it up in a million different places and breathed a sigh of relief.

Thank fuck that’s over with.

I think there comes a point where the law of diminishing returns comes into play. Yeah, sure I could go through it and do another draft, I could list things I’m not 100% sure about but what’s the point?  I’m not going to change it significantly to make it worthwhile.  I’m happy to let someone else rip it apart and say where it’s gone wrong and where it totally makes no sense.

I’m happy with it.  I’m happy for an agent to read it.  I’ve gone as far as I can go with it solo.

So what’s the next step? …read more »

August 17, 2009

I’ve nearly finished the 4th draft of my novel ‘Railroaded’, in it a character has a touch of the runs or ‘diarrhea’.  Now my middle school spelling tests have deserted me and I spelt it so badly that the Word spell check had no idea what word I was trying to spell so couldn’t offer me the correct version.

I went online to search out the correct spelling and found it here at


–noun Pathology. an intestinal disorder characterized by abnormal frequency and fluidity of fecal evacuations.

I just love the explanation, especially the last bit; fecal evacuations.

Usually dictionary definitions offer such plain, logical descriptions without evoking any emotion or human connection to the word in hand.

This definition not only gives you the meaning but brings you back to a time when you gripped the porcelain throne, straining for one last evacuation hoping it was the last as your ringer couldn’t take anymore.

I’m sure Samuel Johnson would be satisfied with this great definition for an English word.  I know I am.