Monday, October 21, 2013

The Easy Way To Win A Major Science Fiction Award

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I may have told you this before, but what the heck.  It bears repeating.

I know you guys want to win major awards.  Well, there's an easy way to do so.  And it involves only two steps:

1.  Become a good enough writer to deserve the award.

There's no getting around this one.  Occasionally a clunker lucks its way into a Hugo or a Nebula, but that's actually pretty rare.  Anyway, you want to be recognized for being a good writer, right?  Not for being a mediocre writer with astonishing luck.

2.  Write a really good novella.

First, a few definitions.  A novel is a work of fiction over 40,000 words in length.  A novella is 17,500 to 40,000 words long, a novelette is 7,500 to 17,500 words, and a short story is under 7,500 words.  There are no major awards for flash fiction.  Though surely that's coming.

Got that?  Okay.  Now, the reason you want to write a novellalla is that there's less competition there than in any other category.  The single most competitive category is Novel, simply because there are so many of them published every year.  The second most competitive category is Novelette, because the form gives writers the freedom to develop an idea at some length combined with a plenitude of market slots available for the story.  So many very good writers have a particular fondness for that length.  It takes more skill to write a really splendid story in the Short Story category, so that's less competitive.  But there's still a lot of good writers working in that form.

Novellas, on the other hand, are relatively rare.  The major magazines have only so many slots per year for them, so most writers avoid the form.  That means that an extraordinary novella will get noticed.  It has a better chance of getting on the Hugo or Nebula ballot.  And it has a better chance of winning.

It's as simple as that.

You're welcome.  Don't forget to thank me at the awards ceremony.


Above:  Some of my awards.  The cardboard one isn't a real Hugo.

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1 comment:

Mark Malcolm said...

Thanks. I am going to get right on it.