Shorter is Better

Harried readers might think shorter is better. At least it fits better on a small screen.

The small screens of devices like e-book readers continue to motivate writers to use shorter chapters and sentences, according to Teleread. In "How to Write Fiction for the E-Book Market," Teleread’s David Rothman also says such reading devices also make it easier for readers to put down books
they are not enjoying, especially when the costs of the
books are low or even free. Rothman discusses a recent post by novelist Kate Saundby on the topic. As someone who used to copyedit news on computer monitors, I am not sure I agree with Rothman that typos and other mistakes stand out on screen better than they do in print.

It is not just handheld devices changing the fiction market either. Web readers–and writers–know about the popularity of online flash fiction venues like the Vestal Review , Quick Fiction and SmokeLong Quarterly, which says "that reading a piece of flash takes about as long as smoking a cigarette."

One market development that the Teleread post does not mention is the rise of SMS Novels, which are written for the cell phone market. The term "novel" is used loosely, however, given that the manuscripts that have been written so far are closer in length to short stories.

A number of writers have tried hitting the teen market. A Japanese writer calling himself Yoshi marketed his SMS Novel Deep Love "by passing out flyers to thousands of high school girls in the ultrahip district of
Shibuya. (Engadget)" Taiwanese writer Xuan Huang has written an SMS romance titled Distance.  Dana Blankenhorn raises the thought that stricter censorship in places like China could spur rise in the SMS Novel format. Chinese writer Qian Fu Zhang’s Outside of the Fortress (International Herald Tribune) is one of the country’s first SMS novels. mentions other SMS novels that have appeared; the site also links to an interview with Yoshi. Onesixty calls itself the first SMS text message literary magazine. Perhaps inspired in part by The Guardian’s SMS poetry competitions?


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